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Various rulers, ultimately the Netherlands

Sint Eustatius was discovered by Columbus in 1493. In 1636, it was conquered by the Dutch from the French. The French had built a fort in 1629. This was expanded and called Fort Oranje. Sint Eustatius became an important transit port; the most profitable asset of the West India Company (WIC). It was then called The Golden Rock. At the end of the 18th century, thirty thousand people lived there. When the Americans started their freedom struggle against the English, the Dutch supplied them with weapons via Sint Eustatius. An American ship, the Andrew Doria, that came to collect the weapons received a gun salute from Fort Oranje. This made the Netherlands the first country in the world to recognise the United States as an independent power.

The English then declared war on the Netherlands (Fourth English War), and took Sint Eustatius. From 1816 Sint Eustatius was again a Dutch possession, but the official language remained English. From 1837 to 1854 Johannes de Veer was the governor of Sint Eustatius for the Netherlands.


Since 1954, Sint Eustatius has been largely independent with the other parts of the Antilles.

In the referendum held on Saint Eustatius on 8 April 2005, the population of the island territory chose to remain part of the Netherlands Antilles. Because all the other islands wanted to leave the Netherlands Antilles as a political unit, the island government ultimately opted for direct ties with the Netherlands.

Result of referendum 8 April 2005 Option Votes Percentage

Recent history

On 11 October 2006, the island (together with Saba and Bonaire) reached an agreement with the Netherlands on its new status as a 'special municipality'.

Hurricane Omar wreaked havoc on Sint Eustatius in October 2008.

The Netherlands Antilles ceased to exist on 10 October 2010. Aruba was already an independent country; Curaçao and Sint Maarten became so on that date. Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius became special Dutch municipalities.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands now comprises four countries with their own governments: Aruba, the Netherlands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten. Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius have a separate status within the Netherlands and are called the Caribbean Netherlands. Together with Aruba, Curaçao and Sint Maarten, they form the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Between 12 and 21 November 2013, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima visited the six islands in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. On Friday 15 November it was the turn of Sint Eustatius.



Derksen,G / Nederlandse Antillen en Aruba

Soesbergen, M. van / Bovenwindse eilanden

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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