The economy of Aruba is an open system, with tourism currently providing the largest percentage of the country’s income. Because of tourism’s rapid growth in the last 80 years, related industries like construction have also flourished. Other primary industries include oil refining and storage, as well as offshore banking. Although the island’s poor soil and low rainfall limit its agricultural prospects, aloe cultivation, livestock, and fishing contribute to Aruba’s economy. In addition, the country also exports art and collectibles, machinery, electrical equipment, and transport equipment. Aruba’s small labor force and low unemployment rate have led to a large number of unfilled job vacancies, despite sharp rises in wage rates in recent years.
With such a large part of its economy dependent on tourism, the Aruban government is striving to increase business in other sectors to protect against possible industry slumps. Their current focus is on expanding technology, finance, and communications.
Unlike many Caribbean islands, a plantation economy never developed on Aruba due to its arid climate. Early Spanish explorers considered the island of little value, partly because the poor soil made growing crops difficult and partly because their attempts to find gold turned up empty-handed. However, long after the Dutch obtained control of Aruba, they found the gold the Spanish had been seeking.