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Sint Eustatius

Sint Eustatius (also Saint Eustace and Statia) is one of the islands making up the Netherlands Antilles; it is in the northern, Leeward Islands portion of this territory, to the west of the Virgin Islands. The regional capital is Oranjestad.

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 claimed by the Netherlands, and despite the occasional invasion since then has remained under Dutch sovereignty since.

Geographically, the island is saddle-shaped, with the 602 meter-high Mount Mazinga (an extinct volcano) to the southeast and the smaller pair Signal Hill/Little Mountain and Boven Mountain to the northwest. Quill Crater on Mount Mazinga 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.

The citizens of Sint Eustatius take pride in being the first "nation" to recognize the United States, having fired an official salute to the visiting American ship Andrew Doria in 1776. At the time, the island was of some importance for sugar cultivation, enhanced even further as an entrepot for goods headed to the blockaded American colonies: at its peak Sint Eustatius had a population of over 20,000 people. In the time since, this has gradually slumped to barely 2400, and Sint Eustatius is eclipsed by Curacao and Sint Maartin