The island of Aruba is one of four countries (along with the Netherlands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten) that comprise the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It is located in the southern Caribbean Sea about 990 miles (1,600 kilometers) west of the main part of the Lesser Antilles and 18 miles (29 kilometers) north of the coast of Venezuela. Lying outside of Hurricane Alley, Aruba forms a group with Bonaire and Curaçao that are referred to as the ABC islands. The inhabitants are Dutch citizens and the capital is Oranjestad. Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid, cactus-strewn landscape. This climate has helped tourism as visitors to the island can reliably expect warm, sunny weather.
Aruba’s first inhabitants, dating back to 1000 A.D., are thought to have been Caquetío Amerindians from the Arawak tribe, who migrated there from Venezuela to escape attacks by the Caribs. Europeans first learned of Aruba following the explorations for Spain by Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda in the summer of 1499. Both described Aruba as an “island of giants”, remarking on the comparatively large stature of the native Caquetíos compared to Europeans. Gold was not discovered on Aruba for another 300 years. Vespucci returned to Spain with stocks of cotton and brazilwood from the island and described houses built into the ocean. Vespucci and Ojeda’s tales spurred interest in Aruba, and Spaniards soon colonized the island.
Aruba was colonized by Spain for over a century. Simas, the Cacique, or chief, in Aruba, welcomed the first Catholic priests in Aruba, who gave him a wooden cross as a gift. In 1508, the Spanish Crown appointed Alonso de Ojeda as its first Governor of Aruba, as part of Nueva Andalucía. The Netherlands acquired Aruba in 1636 and since then the island has been under Dutch administration, initially governed by Peter Stuyvesant. It was included under the Dutch West India Company (W.I.C.) administration, as “New Netherland and Curaçao”, from 1648 to 1664.
During the Napoleonic wars, the British Empire took control over the island, between 1799 and 1802, and between 1804 and 1816, before handing it back to the Dutch. With the occupation of the Netherlands in 1940 the oil facilities in Aruba came under the administration of the Dutch government-in-exile in London, and Aruba continued to supply oil to the British and their allies during World War II.
The first mail delivered to Aruba came on boats originating from Venezuela or Curaçao. Mail arrived at the island’s main port in Oranjestad from where it was collected by the inhabitants. The Governor of Aruba was given the title of Director of Post in 1892 and tasked with the responsibility of delivering the mail. The first official post office was in Plaza Daniel Leo but moved to J.E. Irausquin plein # 9 in 1958.
After a long diplomatic struggle, the island of Aruba was granted a level of independence on January 1, 1986 as a constituent member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The first postage stamps were released on the same day, four values in a set that eventually included sixteen stamps. Aruba’s stamp issuing policy is quite modest, especially compared to some of the other Caribbean islands. There are between three and seven issues per year, usually with just three stamps per issue. The stamp printing for Aruba is done primarily by the firm of Enschedé in the Netherlands.
Scott #266 comes from a trio of stamps issued on May 31, 2005, depicting sunsets. The 100 cent lithographed stamp, perforated 13×14, adds a palm tree to the design.