Aruba is a safe, stable and friendly Caribbean island with Dutch roots. A former colony of the Netherlands, it later formed a part of the Netherland Antilles before gaining its autonomy in 1986; under status apartus, Aruba functions as an independent entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Aruba’s government is founded on democratic principles.
Historically, Aruba was part of the Netherlands Antilles, a six-island federation which also included Bonaire, Curaçao, St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba. This island grouping, in turn, formed the Caribbean component of the Dutch Kingdom, a constitutional monarchy with the Queen of the Netherlands having the dual role of head of state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as well as of the country of the Netherlands.
At a Round Table Conference (March 1983), all partners in the Kingdom (the Netherlands, the Central Government of the Netherlands Antilles, and the governments of the individual islands) agreed to grant Aruba a separate status within the Kingdom. On January 1, 1986 Aruba became a separate entity within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, an event of historic proportions. This does not represent full independence for the island, a step that may be taken only in the very distant future. Today the Kingdom consists of five partners: Holland, Aruba, Curacao, St Maarten and the BES-Islands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba).
As a result of this agreement, Aruban affairs, formerly under the jurisdiction of the Central Government of the Netherlands Antilles, (aviation, customs, immigration, communications, and other internal and external matters) are now handled autonomously by Aruba. The Kingdom retains responsibility for defense and foreign affairs. Aruba has its own constitution based on Western democratic principles and manages its own aviation, customs, immigration, and communications. Briefly stated, this political status is a form of commonwealth with Holland and sister islands, with which Aruba retains strong economic, cultural and political ties.
The Governor is appointed by the Queen of the Kingdom for a term of six years and acts as the sovereign’s representative on the island. The Legislature consists of a 21-member parliament, elected by popular vote for a four-year term of office. The Council of Ministers, presided over by the Prime Minister, forms the executive power. Legal jurisdiction lies with a Common Court of Justice of Aruba, Curacao, St Maarten and the BES-Islands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba), and ultimately with a Supreme Court of Justice in the Netherlands.