Sint Eustatius Explained

Native Name:Eilandgebied Sint Eustatius
Conventional Long Name:Island area of St. Eustatius
Common Name:Sint Eustatius
Official Languages:Dutch, Papiamentu, English
Government Type:See Politics of the Netherlands Antilles
Leader Title1:Sint Eustatius Administrator
Leader Name1:H.C.I. Gittens
Leader Title2:Governor of N.A.
Leader Name2:Frits Goedgedrag
Sovereignty Type:Constitutional monarchy
Sovereignty Note: part of the Netherlands Antilles
Largest City:Oranjestad
Area Magnitude:1_E12
Area Km2:21
Area Sq Mi:8.1
Population Census:3100
Population Census Year:2006
Population Density Km2:147.6
Population Density Sq Mi:?
Population Density Rank:ranked as part of N. A.
Utc Offset:-4
Time Zone:-4
Currency:Netherlands Antillean guilder
Currency Code:ANG
Calling Code:599

Sint Eustatius, also known as Statia, or Saint Eustace, is one of the islands which make up the Netherlands Antilles; it is in the northern, Leeward Islands portion of the West Indies, southeast of the Virgin Islands. It forms part of the inner arc of the Leeward Island chain, lying immediately to the northwest of Saint Kitts and Nevis and to the southeast of Saba at . The regional capital is Oranjestad. It is named after the legendary Catholic Saint Eustace.

Sint Eustatius has a land area of 21 km² (8.1 sq. miles). At the 2001 Netherlands Antilles census, the population was 2,292 inhabitants, which means a population density of 109 inh. per km². In 2004, the population was estimated at 2,498 inhabitants.

Sint Eustatius is slated to become a special municipality within the country of the Netherlands. This transition is still planned, but has now been postponed to an indefinite future date.[1]


The island was seen by Christopher Columbus in 1493 and claimed by an astonishing welter of nations over the next 150 years. In 1636, it was colonized by the chamber of Zeeland of the Dutch West India Company. As of 1678, the islands Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten and Saba fell under direct command of the Dutch West India Company. At Sint Eustatius a commander was stationed, who also governed over the islands Sint Maarten and Saba. At the time, the island was of some importance for sugar cultivation. The island was also home to one of the first Jewish settlements in the New World, dating back at least to the early 18th century. The Honen Dalim Synagogue, built in 1739, now stands in ruins, burned by Admiral Rodney in 1781. That same year, part of Jewish community was forcibly deported.

In the eighteenth century the island became known as Golden Rock, since the island's economy flourished by ignoring the trade embargoes between the great powers.

Since the island sold arms and ammunition to anyone willing to pay, the island was one of the few ways for the rebellious Thirteen colonies to obtain weaponry. This good relationship between Sint Eustatius and the United States resulted in the famous "flag incident" of 16 November 1776, when Commander Johannes de Graaff of Sint Eustatius decided to return the salute fire of the visiting American brigantine Andrew Doria. The United States gave the answering salute great publicity because the salute was the first international acknowledgment of the independence of the United States. (Read about this in the excellent historical work "The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution" by Barbara Tuchman, 1988).

The British did not take the incident too seriously, although they protested against the continuous trade between the United States and Sint 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 Sint Eustatius and the United States was the main reason for the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, which was disastrous for Dutch trading.

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

As a result of the war, Sint Eustatius was taken by the British on 3 February 1781. Commander de Graaff, who at the moment was not informed about the declaration of war but seeing that he was facing superior forces, surrendered the island to the British Admiral Rodney. Ten months later the island was conquered by the French, allies of the Dutch in this war. The Dutch regained command over the island in 1784.

At its peak, Sint Eustatius may have had a population of over 20,000 people. In the time since, this has gradually slumped to 3,600, and Sint Eustatius was eclipsed by other Dutch ports on Curaçao and Sint Maarten.


Geographically, the island is saddle-shaped, with the 602 meter-high Mount Mazinga, colloquially called the Quill (a dormant volcano) (from Dutch

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

External links

Notes and References

  1. St. Maarten-St. Martin - Consensus, but no date set for new status