Sint Eustatius Explained

Conventional Long Name:Sint Eustatius
Common Name:Sint Eustatius
Official Languages:Dutch, English[1]
Government Type:See Politics of the Netherlands
Leader Title1:Lt. Governor
Leader Name1:Gerald Berkel
Sovereignty Type:Constitutional monarchy
Sovereignty Note:Part of the Netherlands
Capital:Oranjestad
Largest City:Oranjestad
Area Magnitude:1_E12
Area Km2:21
Area Sq Mi:8.1
Population Census:3,543
Population Census Year:end-2010[2]
Population Density Km2:169
Utc Offset:-4
Time Zone:-4
Latd:17
Latm:29
Latns:N
Longd:62
Longm:59
Longew:W
Currency:US dollar
Currency Code:USD
Cctld:.an,[3] .nl
Calling Code:599

Sint Eustatius, also known affectionately to the locals as Statia[4] or Statius, is a Caribbean island and a special municipality (officially public body) of the Netherlands.[5]

It lies in the northern Leeward Islands portion of the West Indies, southeast of the Virgin Islands and immediately to the northwest of Saint Kitts and Nevis and to the southeast of Saba, at . The island is named after the legendary Christian martyr Saint Eustace. The regional capital is Oranjestad.

The island has an area of 21 km² (8.1 sq. miles). In the 2001 census, the population was recorded as 3,543 inhabitants, equating to a population density of 169 inhabitants per square kilometre. The official language is Dutch, however English is also recognised as an administrative language.[1] A local English-based creole is also spoken informally. Travel to the island by air is through F.D. Roosevelt Airport.

Formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles, Sint Eustatius became a special municipality within the country of the Netherlands on 10 October 2010.[6]

History

The island was seen by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and claimed by many different nations over the course of the next 150 years. In 1636, it was colonized by the chamber of Zeeland of the Dutch West India Company, and as of 1678, the islands of St. Eustatius, Sint Maarten and Saba fell under direct command of the Dutch West India Company, with a commander stationed on St. Eustatius to govern all three. At the time, the island was of some importance for cultivation of tobacco and sugar.

In the 18th century, St. Eustatius' geographical placement in the middle of Danish (Virgin Islands), English (Jamaica, St. Kitts, Barbados, Antigua), French (Ste. Lucie, Martinique, Guadeloupe) and Spanish (Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola) territories – its large harborage, neutrality and status from 1756[4] as a free port with no customs duties were all factors in it becoming a major point of transhipment of goods, and a locus for trade in contraband.[4] The island was known as The Golden Rock and its economy flourished by ignoring the trade embargoes between the great powers.Edmund Burke said of the island in 1781:

It has no produce, no fortifications for its defense, nor martial spirit nor military regulations ... Its utility was its defense. The universality of its use, the neutrality of its nature was its security and its safeguard. Its proprietors had, in the spirit of commerce, made it an emporium for all the world. ... Its wealth was prodigious, arising from its industry and the nature of its commerce.[4]

"First Salute"

See also: Capture of Sint Eustatius.

Since the island sold arms and ammunition to anyone willing to pay, it was one of the few places from which the rebellious British Thirteen Colonies of North America could obtain weaponry. This good relationship between St. Eustatius and the United States resulted in the noted "First Salute" of 16 November 1776, when Commander Johannes de Graaff of St. Eustatius decided to return the salute fire of the visiting American brig Andrew Doria by firing the cannons of Fort Oranje, the first international acknowledgment of the independence of the United States. The gesture provided the title for Barbara W. Tuchman's 1988 book The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution.

The British took the incident seriously, and protested against the continuous trade between the United States and St. Eustatius. In 1778, Lord Stormont claimed in Parliament that, "if Sint Eustatius had sunk into the sea three years before, the United Kingdom would already have dealt with George Washington". The trade between St. Eustatius and the United States was the main reason for the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, which was disastrous for the Dutch economy.

As a result of the war, St. Eustatius was taken by British Admiral George Brydges Rodney on 3 February 1781. Commander De Graaff, who at the time did not know about the declaration of war, saw that he was facing superior forces, and surrendered the island after firing two rounds as a show of resistance for the honor of Dutch Admiral Lodewijk van Bylandt, who commanded ships of the Dutch Navy which were in the harbor.[4] Ten months later, the island was conquered by the French, allies of the Dutch in this war. The Dutch regained control over the island in 1784.

At its peak, St. Eustatius may have had a population of about 10,000 people, but over time it was eclipsed by other Dutch ports, such as those on the islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten, and the population gradually declined.

Jewish population

The island was home to a Jewish settlement, mainly merchants and plantation owners. Within two days of the island being surrendered to the British in February 1781, part of the Jewish community – all of the men  – together with governor de Graaff, were forcibly deported, being given only 24 hours' notice. The Honen Dalim Synagogue, one of the oldest synagogues in the Western Hemisphere, built in 1739, and many of the Jewish homes, were burned down by Admiral Rodney.[7]

The synagogue stood in ruins from 1781 until 2001, when its walls were restored as part of the Historic Core Restoration Project. Now funds are being sought from private donors to construct a modern roof on the ancient ruins. There are no images showing what the synagogue looked like when it was in use, therefore a proper 'restoration' of the structure to its former condition is not possible.

Dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles

See main article: Dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles. Unlike the other member islands of the Netherlands Antilles, the people of St Eustatius did not vote to leave. In an 8 April 2005, referendum, 77% of voters voted to remain within the Netherlands Antilles, compared to 21% who voted for closer ties with the Netherlands. However, once the other islands decided to leave, meaning that the Netherlands Antilles would become defunct, the island council opted to become a public body of the Netherlands like Saba and Bonaire.

Geography

Geographically, the island is saddle-shaped, with the 602 meter-high dormant volcano Quill, (from Dutch

kuil, meaning 'pit' - because of its crater) to the southeast and the smaller pair Signal Hill/Little Mountain (or Bergje) and Boven Mountain to the northwest. The Quill crater is a popular tourist attraction on the island. The bulk of the island's population lives in the "dip" between the two areas, which crosses the center of the island.

The Great Hurricane of 1780 caused cataclysmic damage and the loss of over 4,000 lives on St. Eustatius.

The national parks of St. Eustatius, comprising the Quill/Boven park, the Botanical Garden, and the Marine Park, are all under the control of the non profit foundation STENAPA.[8]

Economy

Sports

The most popular sports on St. Eustatius are: basketball, volleyball, softball and football.

See also

References

Notes

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 and 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. Tuchman, Barbara W. The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution New York:Ballantine Books, 1988.
  5. Web site: Antillen opgeheven. NOS Nieuws. 2009-11-18. 2010-10-10.
  6. Norton, Louis Arthur. "Retribution: Admiral Rodney and the Jews of St. Eustatius" Jewish Magazine (October 2006)
  7. Web site: Stenapa. Statiapark.org. 2010-10-10.