Aruba really lives up to the phrase “One Happy Island”. The people I encountered, whether they were people born and raised there or ones who lived there 5+ years and had immersed themselves were all very welcoming and friendly. An island full of happy people, who love the warmth and that their country strives off of tourism – I think there’s a certain pride that comes to living in a place that everyone likes to go to as an escape.
It’s hard to really define the culture of Aruba as it is a blend of so much. You can find people, food and cultural influences from all over the world in Aruba. It wasn’t surprising that a country so heavily influenced by tourism has lost much of its indigenous roots and individualistic culture.
The impact of westernization due to tourism is evident in many different characteristics of the island. Not only do locals admit it but you see it in the night clubs you attend, the restaurants, etc. There is little that belongs to Aruba, they don’t have things specific to them: food, sports, activities, etc. When I would ask a local (usually cab drivers) where to go for the best authentic/local Aruban experience it was difficult for them to answer.
From my experiences there I believe their language and happy spirit are the most defining aspects of the Aruban culture and even if just for a few days I was happy to be a part of it.