Saba Explained

Conventional Long Name:Saba
Common Name:Saba
National Motto:"Remis Velisque" (Latin)
"With oars and sails" (English)
National Anthem:"Saba you rise from the ocean"
Official Languages:Dutch, English[1]
Government Type:See Politics of the Netherlands
Leader Title1:Lt. Governor
Leader Name1:Jonathan Johnson
Sovereignty Type:Constitutional monarchy
Sovereignty Note:Part of the Netherlands
Capital:The Bottom
Largest City:The Bottom
Area Magnitude:1_E12
Area Km2:13
Area Sq Mi:5
Population Census:1,824
Population Census Year:end-2010[2]
Population Density Km2:140
Utc Offset:-4
Time Zone:-4
Latd:17
Latm:38
Latns:N
Longd:63
Longm:14
Longew:W
Currency:US dollar
Currency Code:USD
Cctld:.an,[3] .nl
Calling Code:599

Saba is a Caribbean island and the smallest special municipality (officially public body) of the Netherlands.[4] It consists largely of the potentially active volcano Mount Scenery (877 m), the highest point within both the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Netherlands proper.

Saba, including the islet of Green Island, became a special municipality within the country of the Netherlands after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010.[5]

The island has a land area of 13 km² (5 sq. miles). At the 2001 Netherlands Antilles census, the population was 1,824 inhabitants, which means a population density of 140 inhabitants per km². Its current major towns and settlements include The Bottom (the capital), Windwardside, Hell's Gate and St. Johns.

As the island is part of the Netherlands, Dutch is the official language. Despite the island's Dutch affiliation, English is the principal language spoken on the island and has been used in its school system since the 19th century. English can therefore be used in communications of and to the government[1] although there is a local dialect. Since January 1, 2011, the U.S. dollar has been the official currency,[6] replacing the Netherlands Antillian Guilder.

Saba is home to the Saba University School of Medicine, which was established by American expatriates in coordination with the Netherlands government. The school adds over 300 residents when classes are in session, and it is the prime educational attraction. A.M. Edwards Medical Center is the major provider of healthcare for local residents.

History

The origin of the name "Saba" is often mistakenly believed to be derived from the Arawak Indian word for "rock", which was "siba". However, the true source of the name Saba \s(a)-ba\ is of Greek and Arabic (colloquial Arabic Saba سابا and classical Arabic سبأ) origin, and its meaning is from Sheba: "morning". Saba refers to the Biblical queen of Sheba. Christopher Columbus is said to have sighted Saba on November 13, 1493, but he did not land, being deterred by the island's perilously rocky shores. In 1632 a group of shipwrecked Englishmen landed upon Saba; they stated they found the island uninhabited when they were rescued. However, there has been some evidence found indicating that Carib or Arawak Indians may have been on the island.

In 1635 a stray Frenchman claimed Saba for Louis XIII of France and around the year 1640, the Dutch Governor of the neighboring island of St. Eustatius sent people over to colonize the island for the Dutch West India Company. In 1664, these settlers were evicted to St. Maarten by Thomas Morgan, The Netherlands have been in continuous possession of Saba since 1816 after numerous flag changes (British-Dutch-French) during the previous centuries.

In the 17th and 18th centuries its major industries were sugar and rum, and later fishing, particularly lobster fishing. In the 17th century Saba was believed to be a favorable hideout for Jamaican pirates. England also deported its "undesirable" people to live in the Caribbean colonies. They too became pirates, taking haven on Saba. The most notable native Saban pirate was Hiram Beakes, who famously quipped, "Dead men tell no tales." Legitimate sailing and trade later became important and many of the island's men took to the seas, during which time Saba lace became an important product made by the island's women.

The remains of the 1640 settlements can be found on the west side at Tent Bay. They were destroyed by a landslide in the 17th century.

Geography and ecology

The environment of Saba is mainly composed of woodland forest with ferns and damp soil, and many mango trees. There used to be forests of Mountain Mahogany trees until a hurricane in the 1960s destroyed many of the trees, which are Freziera undulata in the family Theaceae. However, despite the common name, these trees are not related to other Mahogany species. One species of true mahogany tree is found on the island, planted at lower levels, and that is the small-leaved mahogany, Swietenia mahagoni, Meliaceae. The native mahogany trees are considered to be at risk of going extinct on Saba.

Visitors refer to Saba's forests as "the Elfin Forest" because of its high altitude mist, and mossy appearance. Since then there has been a woodland reserve created and aptly named "Elfin Forest Reserve". Saba's lush plant and animal wildlife is diverse and is cared for by the Saba Conservation Foundation.

4.3 km southwest of Saba is the Saba Bank, a large submerged atoll of rich biodiversity, and a prime fishing ground, particularly for lobster.

People and culture

See main article: Culture of Saba. The population of Saba (the Sabans) consists of only 1,824 people who come from all over the world. The island's small size has led to a fairly small number of island families, who can trace their last names back to around a half-dozen families. This means that many last names are shared around the island, the most numerous being Hassell and Johnson. Most families are a rich intermixing of Dutch, Scottish, and African heritage. The population is also descended from the Irish who were exiled from that country after the accession of King Charles I of England in 1625; Charles exiled these Irish to the Caribbean in an effort to quell rebellion after he had forcibly procured their lands for his Scottish noble supporters.

Historically, the island was traded among the many European nations that fought for power in the region. Slaves were also imported to work on Saba. Both English and Dutch are used on the island and taught in schools. In more recent years Saba has become home to a large group of expatriates, and around 250 immigrants who are either students or teachers at the Saba University School of Medicine.

Sabans are mostly Roman Catholic by faith; however, there is also a Wesleyan Church Holiness community on the island. Other religions practiced on the island include Jehovah's Witnesses, Anglican, Seventh-day Adventist, Muslim, and Jewish faiths.

Transport

There is one road, aptly called "The Road". Its construction was masterminded by Josephus Lambert Hassell who, despite the common opinion of Dutch and Swiss engineers, believed that a road could be built.[7] He took a correspondence course in civil engineering, and started building the road with a crew of locals in 1938.[8] After five years of work, the first section of the road, from Fort Bay to The Bottom, was completed. It was not until 1947, however, that the first motor vehicle arrived. In 1951, the road to Windwardside and St. Johns was opened, and in 1958 the road was completed. Driving "The Road" is considered to be a daunting task, and the curves in Windwardside are extremely difficult to negotiate. Driving is on the right hand side.

In 1963 the island built the Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport. This 400 metre landing strip is reputed to be the shortest commercial runway in the world, and as such, only accommodates small STOL airliners such as the Twin Otter and the Britten-Norman Islander. Consistent air service from Sint Maarten and Sint Eustatius is available through Windward Islands Airways (Winair).

In 1972 a pier was completed in Fort Bay to access the island. Travel is also provided by ferry services to and from Sint Maarten with the Dawn II and The Edge.

Of note are 800 steps carved from stone that reach from Ladder Bay to the settlement known as The Bottom. Until the late 20th century, everything that was brought to the island was carried up by hand using these steps. The steps are now often used by tourists who wish to experience an intense climb.

Economy

See main article: Economy of Saba. Saba lace (also known as "Spanish work") was a major export of Saba. In the 1870s, as a young lady, Mary Gertrude Hassell Johnson, was sent to a Caracas convent in Venezuela for study – where she learned the difficult craft. The lacework spread through the island. The women of Saba began a mail-order business, and would copy addresses of businesses off shipping containers from the United States, and write to the employees. Often they would get orders for the lacework, and it started a considerable cottage industry. By 1928, the women were exporting around $15,000 (USD) worth of lace products each year.

Tourism, ecotourism, conservation

The island of Saba is relatively new to the tourism industry, with about 25,000 visitors each year. The island has a number of inns, hotels, rental cottages and restaurants. Saba is known as "The Unspoiled Queen" of the Caribbean.[9] The island is especially known for its ecotourism, having exceptional scuba diving, climbing and hiking. A non-governmental conservation organization, Saba Conservation Foundation, helps protect the nature and culture of the island.

Arriving and departing

There is a small airport with flights to and from the nearby islands of St. Maarten and Sint Eustatius. There is also a ferry service from St. Maarten; the ferry boats "Dawn II" and "The Edge" both travel to Saba three times a week. In addition there are anchorages for private boats. [9] .

Diving

Saba's colorful and pristine coral life make it one of the most interesting places to scuba dive in the world, and is often listed as one of the Top 10 diving destinations globally. The waters around Saba were designated as the Saba National Marine Park in 1987, and are subject to government regulation to preserve the coral reefs and other marine life. Saba supports two hyperbaric chambers in case of diving emergencies. Soon a ship equipped with another hyperbaric chamber will be stationed outside of Fort Bay, to assist in diving emergencies at sea.

Notable Sabans

See also

External links

Notes and References

  1. English can be used in relations with the government
    Web site: Invoeringswet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba. Dutch. wetten.nl. 2011-01-01.
  2. Web site: Bevolkingsontwikkeling Caribisch Nederland; geboorte, sterfte, migratie. Central Bureau of Statistics. 2012. 2012-12-13. Dutch.
  3. The domain for the Netherlands Antilles has remained active after its dissolution. The ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 code BQ was established for the entity "Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Saba". (Web site: ISO 3166-1 decoding table. International Organization for Standardization. 2010-12-17.) An Internet ccTLD has however not been established by the IANA, and it is unknown if it will be opened for registration.
  4. Web site: Antillen opgeheven. NOS Nieuws. 2009-11-18. 2010-10-10.
  5. Web site: Plein. Pleinplus.nl. 2009-12-02. 2010-10-10.
  6. Web site: Saba Dutch Caribbean Travel Guide. 2007-10-06. LukeTravels.com.
  7. Web site: Saba’s road less travelled. 2007-10-06. Diane Slawych. Canoe.ca Travel.
  8. http://www.sabatourism.com/ Saba Tourist Bureau
  9. http://www.sabatourism.com/orchids2.html