Aruba and Dutch Caribbean
Most of the island’s residents were indigenous Indians.
The year was 1642. A war had been raging between Spain and the Netherlands for eighty years.
Finally, it was coming to an end.
In the Caribbean, ships bearing the Dutch flag sailed into the harbor of the small island of Aruba. The Dutch West India Company had taken possession of this tiny island. Dutch troops were sent to maintain order.
“They’re raising the Dutch flag!” someone in the crowd of locals said. Before them, with great ceremony, Dutch soldiers had taken down the Spanish flag and were now hoisting the Dutch one.
“Things will be better now,” one of the Indians said.
They had been treated very badly by the Spanish. They had to abide by Spanish traditions, and they could not farm their own land.
“We’ll see,” a second Indian said. “Things never change.”
But he was wrong. The Dutch let the Indians live by their own traditions and farm the land so they could sell produce and feed their families. The Dutch and the locals got along so well that the island remained part of the Netherlands until 2010.
Until 2010, the Netherlands was made up of four parts. There is the Netherlands itself, in Europe. Then there are three islands in the Caribbean: Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten. The three islands were collectively known as the Dutch Antilles.
Curaçao, largest and most populous of the Dutch Caribbean islands, is named for the Portuguese word, coracao, meaning“heart.”Aruba, which is blessedly outside the hurricane zone, receives little rainfall. It is home to exotic cactuses and aloe plants, but water is so scarce that it has to come from a seawater desalinization plant. Sint Maarten is located on an island jointly owned by two countries. The northern side of the island is Saint Martin, a territory of France. The Dutch Sint Maarten occupies the south.
The islands’ economy is based on banking and oil refining. The combination of Dutch and indigenous architectural styles and sun-drenched beaches make the Antilles some of the finest tourist destinations in the world.
Individual or Small-Group Activity
- Determine which two of the following sentences are in the wrong place.
- Put them where they belong.
A. Most of the island’s residents were indigenous Indians.
B. They had to abide by Spanish traditions, and they could not farm their own land.
C. Until 2010, the Netherlands was made up of four parts.
D. Curaçao, largest and most populous of the Dutch Caribbean islands, is named for the Portuguese word, coracao, meaning“heart.”
E. The Dutch Sint Maarten occupies the south.