Multilingualism prevails, where the majority of the population can speak more than four languages. As in the islands of the Netherlands Antilles, the official languages are Papiamento and Dutch, the latter is the language of instruction in schools and government work, being the third most widely spoken language since its daily use is limited with only 5,300 people who have it as their mother tongue.
According to the 2000 census, the population uses the following as main languages:
- Papiamento (official and national language) by 66.3%.
- Spanish 6% (important due to its proximity to Venezuela, taught in schools from 5th grade)
- English (important for tourism, taught in schools from 4th grade) 7.7%
- Dutch (official used in public administration) 5.8%
- Others 2.2%
- 3% unspecific or unknown (2000 census)
Unique to the ABC Islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao), Papiamento evolved from a rudimentary language – used by people with different native languages for the purpose of communication – to the more complex language that it is today. This is an Afro-Portuguese Creole mix that over the years has been enriched in the syntax and lexicon of languages such as Dutch, English and Spanish, but which retains its own rhythm and meanings.
The use of papiamento has been recorded since the 18th century, as evidenced by official documents on the neighboring island of Curaçao. In the mid- 19th century, Papiamento was the language of choice for written materials, such as Roman Catholic hymnals and school books. Had it not been for the introduction of the Dutch language into the educational system, Papiamento would have continued to be the language of instruction. It is only in recent times that Papiamento has been reincorporated into education on the island.
Despite being used as the native language for 300 years, Papiamento was declared as the official language of Aruba, along with the Dutch, until March 19 of the 2003.
The English language is recognized as an international language by all the residents of Aruba, who are required to learn English from the fourth grade of primary school. Spanish is also taking on equal importance in Aruba because it is located a short distance from the coast of South America; This is taught from the fifth grade of primary school.
The French language is taught as an optional course in secondary school.
Music plays a central and very important role in Aruba vacations, as well as in informal celebrations.
The Latin rhythms of salsa and merengue, the American top 40 and European house music offer a complete mix of musical backgrounds with which the cosmopolitan attitude of the island is experienced in all its splendor.
Local musicians benefit from this mix of musical backgrounds and also from the exposure of international trends that frequently add a new twist to traditional rhythms.
The majority of the population is Christian, mainly Catholic
- Catholics 80.8%
- Evangelicals 4.1%
- Other Protestants 2.5%
- Jehovah’s Witnesses 1.5%
- Methodists 1.2%
- Jews – 0.2%
- Others – 5.1%
- Uncertain or unknown 5.3 (2000 census)
Various sports are practiced in Aruba, the country also has its own delegations in international competitions such as the South American Games, the Pan American Games and the Summer Olympics.
On this island, as in nearby Venezuela and several Caribbean countries such as Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, the most popular sport is baseball and then its derivatives (softball for example) follow. The island has its own national baseball team, some of its players participated in the world baseball classic as part of the Netherlands national team.
Soccer is not so important on the island, it has a modest number of practitioners, professionals tend to pursue their careers but in the Netherlands, however the island has its own national team, the Aruba soccer team, which usually play at the Guillermo Próspero Trinidad Stadium. The Aruban Football Federation recognized at the end of 2006 the effectiveness that Aruba had in the first of the 3 phases of the North Cone qualifiers on the way to Libya-Tunisia 2010 of Fut-Siete, since it won its 6 group matches (3 of local and 3 away) to the combined Saint-Martin, Cayman Islands and the Virgin Islands of the United Kingdom. Located in Central America according to localtimezone.org, Aruba was eliminated in the groups of the second phase losing in the first 3 matches against the Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, and Honduras, although defeating them in the respective 3 laps.