Aruba is an island in the Caribbean Sea close to the coast of Venezuela and a constituent of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. With settlements dating back to around 1,000 BC, the island was probably inhabited by the Caquetios Amerinds fleeing from Venezuela. It was made famous in 1499 by Amerigo Vespucci, who returned to Spain on ships loaded with cotton and Brazilwood from the island. Gold was also found on the island, but only about 300 years later.
The island was acquired by the Dutch in 1636. During 1799-1802 and 1814-1816, it was ruled by the British, being later returned to the Dutch. Aruba became an autonomous state in 1947, but it has retained its status as a constituent of the Dutch Crown.
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