History of Saba


1500 BC - Plum Piece
The first remnants of civilization are found at Plum Piece, which was settled by hunter/gatherers. Saba's first visitors were nomads who used trees to build canoes and survived on seabirds and crabs. Historians believe that these nomads had contact with indigenous people from the surrounding islands with whom they traded goods.

1493 - Christopher Columbus
During his second journey in 1493 world traveller Christopher Columbus sailed by Saba and named it San Cristóbal. Despite the fact that the Spanish saw no redeeming qualities in the island, they claimed it for the Spanish crown.

1636 - Shipwreck at Saba
In 1636 an English vessel was unlucky enough to get stranded in the rough seas surrounding Saba. The survivors made it to the island and were the first permanent European inhabitants of this volcanic rock. Today you can still meet their distant descendants, many of whom have the surname Hassel or Johnson.

1816 - Definitely Dutch
After Columbus, four European powers fought over Saba. After the Spanish, French and English the Dutch took control of the island in 1816. During this period slavery was introduced to the island but the amount of these unfortunate souls was limited due to Saba's ‘unfriendly natural surroundings’.

1863 - Abolition of slavery
Africans were brought to the Caribbean by Europeans and forced to work as slaves. Working conditions at the plantations, salt mines and the harbour were very harsh to say the least. The Dutch finally abolished slavery in 1863.

1938 - The Road
In 1938 work began on The Road. It took nine gruelling years before it was finished. In 1947 the first car drove on this tremendous road which is now 14km-long.

1960 - Airport Saba
Another feat of engineering was completed in 1960 when the island's first airport was opened at Flat Point. The Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport with its 400m-long runway is the smallest of its kind in the world. Landing at Saba is not for the faint of heart and pilots can only service Saba after taking a special course.

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