Sint Eustatius

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Sint Eustatius
Public body of the Netherlands
Flag of Sint Eustatius
Coat of arms of Sint Eustatius
Coat of arms
Location of  Sint Eustatius  (circled in red)in the Caribbean  (light yellow)
Location of  Sint Eustatius  (circled in red)

in the Caribbean  (light yellow)

Map showing location of St. Eustatius relative to Saba and St. Martin.
Map showing location of St. Eustatius relative to Saba and St. Martin.
Coordinates: 17°29′N 62°59′W / 17.483°N 62.983°W / 17.483; -62.983
Country Netherlands
Incorporated into the Netherlands 10 October 2010 (dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles)
(and largest city)
Government (see Politics of the Netherlands)
 • Lt. Governor Gerald Berkel
 • Total 21 km2 (8 sq mi)
Population (2013[1])
 • Total 3,897
 • Density 190/km2 (480/sq mi)
 • Official Dutch
 • Recognised regional English[2]
Time zone AST (UTC−4)
Calling code +599-3
ISO 3166 code BQ-SE, NL-BQ3
Currency US dollar (USD)
Internet TLD .an,[3] .nl

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

The island lies in the northern Leeward Islands portion of the West Indies, southeast of the Virgin Islands. Sint Eusatius is immediately to the northwest of Saint Kitts, and to the southeast of Saba. 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, with a population density of 169 inhabitants per square kilometre. The official languages are Dutch and English. A local English-based creole is also spoken informally. Travellers to the island by air arrive through F.D. Roosevelt Airport.

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

The name of the island, “Sint Eustatius”, is the Dutch name for Saint Eustace (also spelled Eustachius or Eustathius), a legendary Christian martyr, known in Spanish as San Eustaquio and in Portuguese as Santo Eustáquio or Santo Eustácio.


A historical engraving showing the view from the harbor of Sint Eustatius.

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, the chamber of Zeeland of the Dutch West India Company took possession of the island that was then reported to be uninhabited. 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), British (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.

17th century Fort Oranje, with the island of Saba visible in the distance.

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"[edit]

The island of St. Eustatius taken by the English fleet in February 1781. The island was pillaged by the troops of Rodney.

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.[Note 1] While in the harbor of St. Eustatius in 1939, U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt recognised the importance of the 1776 event by presenting a plaque which says: "Here the sovereignty of the United States of America was first formally acknowledged to a national vessel by a foreign official." 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 a ship of the Dutch Navy which was 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. During the last years of the 18th century Statia developed trade in aging rum. As the warehouses constructed for profits from more active commerce decayed that too left the island.

Jewish population[edit]

The island was home to a Jewish settlement, mainly merchants and plantation-owners. Following the island's surrender to the British in February 1781, Admiral Rodney noticed the high volume of Jewish funerals taking place. He ordered the opening of coffins and discovered the Jewish merchants had been attempting to hide their valuables from the British. Within two days part of the Jewish community together with governor de Graaff, were forcibly deported, being given only 24 hours' notice.[7]

A series of disastrous French and British occupations from 1795 to 1815 diverted trade to the occupiers' islands. As a result, St. Eustatius' economy collapsed. The Jews left along with the other merchants. Without a community using and looking after the synagogue, the building gradually fell into ruin. In 2001, its walls were restored as part of the Historic Core Restoration Project. Now funds are being sought[by whom?] from private donors to construct a modern roof on the ancient ruins. No known images showing what the synagogue looked like when it was in use have survived, preventing a proper "restoration" of the structure to its former condition.

Dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles[edit]

Unlike the other member islands of the Netherlands Antilles, the people of St Eustatius did not vote to leave. In a referendum on 8 April 2005, 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 special municipality of the Netherlands like Saba and Bonaire.


Sint Eustatius photographed from the ISS.
View looking southeast along the Atlantic coast, showing the airport runway in the middle distance, Lynch Beach beyond that, then the Quill, St. Eustatius' dormant volcano, and over the water in the distance, the northern end of the island of St. Kitts.

Topographically, the island is saddle-shaped, with the 602 meter-high dormant volcano Quill, (from Dutch kuil, meaning 'pit'—originally referring to 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 saddle between the two elevated areas, which forms the center of the island.

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


Ruins of numerous warehouses on Oranje Bay

In the 18th century, "Statia" was the most important Dutch island in the Caribbean and was a center of great wealth from trading. At this time it was known as the "Golden Rock" because of its immense wealth. A very large number of warehouses lined the road that runs along Oranje Bay; most (but not all) of these warehouses are now ruined and many of the ruins are partially underwater.

A French occupation in 1795 was the beginning of the end of great prosperity for Sint Eustatius.

According to the Sint Eustatius government website, "Statia's economy is stable and well placed to grow in the near future. With practically no unemployment and a skilled workforce, we have a infrastructure in place to ensure sustained growth."[9] In reference to this statement, one should understand that the government itself is the largest employer on the island, and the oil terminal owned by "NuStar" is the largest private employer on the island.[10]


The most popular sports on Sint Eustatius are softball, association football, basketball and volleyball.[citation needed] Due to the small population, there are few sport associations. One of them, the Sint Eustatius Volleyball Association, is a member of NORCECA. Currently St. Eustatius is a non-active member of the Caribbean zone of Pony Baseball and Softball leagues.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The first salute to the Grand Union flag probably occurred one month earlier when a schooner merchantman received a salute from Fort Frederik on the Danish island of St Croix (The birth of our Flag page 13 published 1921)and (Americas Library) Translated from the Danish Wikipedia article on Frederiksted "Frederiksted is a town on St Croix in the US Virgin Islands which were previously the Danish West Indies. .. The town is dominated by the red and white Fort Frederik from the 1750's. The fort has special meaning to both USA and Denmark-Norway. It was from here that the first foreign salute of recognition of USA independence was given in 1776."


  1. ^ "Bevolkingsontwikkeling Caribisch Nederland; geboorte, sterfte, migratie" (in Dutch). Central Bureau of Statistics. 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-13. 
  2. ^ English can be used in relations with the government
    "Invoeringswet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2012-10-14. 
  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”. ("ISO 3166-1 decoding table". International Organization for Standardization. Retrieved 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. ^ a b c d e Tuchman, Barbara W. The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution New York:Ballantine Books, 1988.
  5. ^ "Wet openbare lichamen Bonaire, Sint Eustatius en Saba (Law on the public bodies of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba)". Dutch Government (in Dutch). Retrieved 14 October 2010. 
  6. ^ "Antillen opgeheven". NOS Nieuws. 2009-11-18. Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  7. ^ Norton, Louis Arthur. "Retribution: Admiral Rodney and the Jews of St. Eustatius" Jewish Magazine (October 2006)
  8. ^ "Stenapa". Retrieved 2010-10-10. 
  9. ^ "Economy,", accessed 15 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Economy,", accessed 22 april 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 17°29′N 62°58′W / 17.483°N 62.967°W / 17.483; -62.967