Anguilla, British territory in the northernmost part of the Leeward
Islands in the Caribbean; 96 km2, 13,500 residents (2011). The
territory consists of five inhabited islands, of which the island of Anguilla is
the largest. The capital is The Valley with approximately 500 residents The
population is by far predominantly of African descent and speaks
English. Anguilla is the Spanish word for eel, and it describes the elongated
shape of the coral island. Sandy beaches, coral reefs and a dry climate attract
tourists, while traditional occupations, livestock farming and a little farming
are of less importance. However, lobster is still caught in the coral reefs for
export, and sea salt is produced by natural evaporation. Offshore companies are
of growing importance to the economy.
Anguilla became an English colony in 1650 as part of the Leeward
Islands. From 1882 it formed a colony with Saint Kitts and Nevis. The colony
was administered from Saint Kitts, which met with great resistance in
Anguilla. Shortly after independence from Britain in 1967, Anguilla declared its
independence from the other two islands, leading to a crisis and a brief British
military intervention in 1969. In 1971, Anguilla came directly under British
control, and in 1982 the island gained internal autonomy with its own police
force and elected governor.
Aruba, an island in the Caribbean with its own territorial status within the
Netherlands, near the coast of Venezuela; 180 km2, 101,484
residents (2010). The island was formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles,
but was separated as an autonomous territory in 1986.
Aruba is a flat, wind-blown rocky island, whose landscape is characterized by
large boulders, cacti and individual deciduous trees. The location near the
equator causes the temperature to be almost constant all year round; the climate
is dry and drinking water is obtained by desalination of seawater. On the west
side is the capital Oranjestad (28,294 residents).
The ethnic distinctiveness of the majority of the residents is attributed
to the mixture of the native Caribbean Indians with especially Spanish and Dutch
immigrants. The cultural mosaic also includes several other nationalities that
have settled on the island. Dutch is the official language, but also Spanish and
English are heard, as is Papiamento, which mixes the European
languages with local dialect.
When the oil refinery at San Nicolas on the eastern tip was built in 1929, it
was the world's largest, and it was the island's most important workplace and
economic backbone, until it closed in 1985. A small part of the refinery has
since been reopened. Now the economy depends mainly on tourism, especially from
Europe and Canada, but also from the United States and Venezuela.
Until the 1800's. was Aruba military territory with a ban on civilian
settlement on the island. Slavery was abolished in 1863. In 1954, Aruba, along
with five other islands in the West Indies, became an autonomous state, the
Netherlands Antilles, under the Kingdom of the Netherlands, see Netherlands.
In the 1980's, a strong separatist movement emerged, based primarily on
economic but also historical and racial conditions, and on January 1, 1986,
Aruba resigned from the federation. Independence was scheduled for 1996, but the
economic prospects following the closure of the oil refinery led the people to
decide to remain within the Kingdom of the Netherlands as an autonomous part.