Europeans first learned of Aruba when Amerigo Vespucci and Alonso de Ojeda came across it in August 1499. Vespucci in one of his four letters to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici described his voyage to the islands along the coast of Venezuela. He wrote about an island where most trees are of brazilwood and, from this island, he went to one ten leagues away, where they had houses built as in Venice. In another letter he described a small island inhabited by very large people, which the expedition thought was not inhabited.
Aruba was colonized by Spain for over a century. The Cacique or Indian Chief in Aruba, Simas, welcomed the first priests in Aruba and received from them a wooden cross as a gift. In 1508, Alonso de Ojeda was appointed as Spain's first Governor of Aruba, as part of "Nueva Andalucia."
Another governor appointed by Spain was Juan Martinez de Ampues. A "cedula real" decreed in November 1525 gave Ampues, factor of Espanola, the right to repopulate the depopulated islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire. The natives under Spanish rule enjoyed more liberty than the average northern European farmer of the period.