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Sint Eustatius ( ), also known affectionately to the locals as Statia, or Statius ( ), is one of the islands which make up the Netherlands Antillesmarker; 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 Kittsmarker and Nevismarker and to the southeast of Sabamarker at . It is named after the legendary Catholic Saint Eustace. The regional capital is Oranjestadmarker.

In the 18th century St. Eustatius was the most important Dutch island in the Caribbean.
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, equating to a population density of 109 inhabitants per square kilometre. In 2004, the population was estimated at 2,498 inhabitants. Travel to the island by air is through F.D.marker Roosevelt Airportmarker.

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

The University of Sint Eustatius, School of Medicine is located on the island with students coming predominetly from the united States and Canada but also from many other international locations. The students of the university of Sint Eustatius School if Medicine provide and important source of revenue for the island and local economy bringing in tens of thousands of dollars every semester for food, accommodations and more.

History

Sint Eustatius Harbor.
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 Zeelandmarker of the Dutch West India Company. As of 1678, the islands Sint Eustatius, Sint Maartenmarker and Sabamarker fell under direct command of the Dutch West India Company. At Sint Eustatius a commander was stationed, who also governed over the island's dependencies Sint Maarten and Saba. At the time, the island was of some importance for sugar cultivation. The island was also home to a Jewish settlement, mainly merchants and plantation owners.

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 Statesmarker resulted in the famous "First Salute" of 16 November 1776, when Commander Johannes de Graeff of Sint Eustatius decided to return the salute fire of the visiting American brigantine Andrew Doria by firing the cannons of Fort Oranje. The United States gave the answering salute great publicity because the eleven gun salute was the first international acknowledgment of the independence of the United States. The gesture provided the title for Barbara Tuchman's 1988 work The First Salute: A View of the American Revolution.

17th century Fort Oranje
Britishmarker did not take the incident too seriously, although they protested against the continuous trade between the United States and Sint Eustatius. The island was known as The Golden Rock and its economy flourished by ignoring the trade embargoes between the great powers. In 1778, Lord Stormont claimed in Parliamentmarker that, "if Sint Eustatius had sunk into the sea three years before, the United Kingdommarker 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 the Dutch economy.

As a result of the war, Sint Eustatius was taken by the British on 3 February 1781. Commander de Graeff, who at the moment was not informed about the declaration of war but seeing that he was facing superior forces, surrendered the island quickly to the British Admiral Rodney. Within a day, part of the Jewish community, c.q. all the men and the governor Johannes de Graeff were forcibly deported to England. The Honen Dalim Synagogue, built in 1739 and burned by Admiral Rodney in 1781, stood in ruins 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 so a proper 'restoration' of its former glory is not possible.)

Ten months later, the island was conquered by the Frenchmarker, 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 about 10,000 people. In the time since, this has gradually declined to 3,600, and Sint Eustatius was eclipsed by other Dutch ports on Curaçaomarker and Sint Maartenmarker.

Geography

View of the Quill
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 Cratermarker 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 Sint Eustatius.

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