- Languages: Dutch and English
- Currency: US Dollar
- Temperature: Average 80°F year-round
- Square Miles: 5 Approx.
- Population: 1,200
ABOUT. Saba, referred to as the Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean, is a Dutch island south of St. Maarten in the Lesser Antilles. The island was formed as the top of a volcano that became active during the middle of the late Pleistocene era. Now a dormant volcano, it has not erupted for about 5,000yrs. This tiny mountainous island boasts a highest point of 2,877 feet above sea level atop Mount Scenery. Its current towns and major settlements are The Bottom (the capital), Windwardside, Hell’s Gate and St. Johns. The name “Saba” is believed to be of Greek and Arabic origin and its meaning is derived from Sheba meaning”morning” and refers to the Biblical queen of Sheba.
Circa 800 AD – Arawak Indians migrated into the Caribbean basin from South America and built villages on Saba. Christopher Columbus is said to have sighted the island on 13 November 1493, but he did not land, being deterred by the island’s dangerous and rocky shores. Steep cliffs and bluffs can be seen throughout the island with several sheer walls rising over 100m (330ft). In 1632, a group of shipwrecked Englishmen landed upon Saba. In 1640, the Dutch West Indian Company, which had already settled on the neighboring island of St. Eustatius known as “The Golden Rock” was a center of business and brought people over to colonize the island. For almost 200 years the island went The Dutch, Spanish, French and English. For many years Saba was known as a haven for Caribbean pirates.
The Unspoiled Queen’s inhabitants were of Dutch, African, English, Scottish and Irish descent and many of the men became sailors and fishermen. Sailing and fishing took many of the Saba men away from the island for a long time. Since the “man of the house” was often away Saba’s women became very resilient and independent by necessity. The women made socks, shoes, belts, gloves, Panama style straw hats and lace. The island thus became known as “The Island of Women”.
Saba’s plant and animal life is a mixture of native and introduced species. Mango, banana, Black-Eyed Susan, tree frogs, goats and chickens were all brought to the island. Anoles lizards are found only on Saba and so are Red-Bellied Racer Snakes which are completely harmless. Saba is home to over sixty species of birds, many of which are seabirds. Closer to the sea, grassy meadows with scattered shrubs predominate. Due to its rugged terrain, Saba does not have typical Caribbean beaches but instead has sandy bays.
The vegetation of Saba is mainly composed of woodland forest with ferns and damp soil, and many mango trees. There is one main road, known as “The Road”. The island of Saba is relatively new to the tourism industry. The island is especially known for its ecotourism, having exceptional scuba diving, climbing and hiking. A non-governmental conservation organization, Saba Conservation Foundation, helps protect the nature and culture of the island. Formally part of the Netherlands Antilles, Saba became part of a Special municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands together with the islands of St. Eustatius and Bonaire in 2010.