After being charted by Christopher Columbus in 1493, St. Eustatius changed hands 22 times during the colonial era. Known as Statius to the locals, it is a small island with a rich history, having spent the 17th century being a trading hub for slaves, sugar, cotton and other commodities from Europe and the Far East, once having one of the busiest ports in the Caribbean. During this time it also was the home to a Jewish settlement, and there is now a large Jewish community here. In the 18th century St. Eustatius was a large supplier of arms and ammunition to anyone who would pay; being one of the few locations in the British Colonies of North America in which people could do this.
St. Eustatius eventually obtained the nickname ‘The Golden Rock’ because of its prosperity in regards to trade at this time. St. Eustatius was also the first foreign nation to officially recognize the independence of the United States, when it fired an 11-gun salute to a passing US warship; this was called the ‘First Salute’. The people on this now Dutch municipality see a lot of value in preserving their cultural heritage and history; the St. Eustatius Historical Foundation was founded in 1974 to celebrate this.
Located in the northern part of the Leeward Island chain, many ships anchored at the St. Eustatian capital of Oranjestad sand over the course of its tumultuous history making the seas around the island a popular destination for diving. The national parks on the island are comprised of the Quill and Boven parks, the Botanical Garden and a Marine Park, which are all monitored by the St. Eustatius National Parks. The beauty and abundance of these natural parks make the island a popular hiking destination. The island also has a large centre for archeological research. Music is also a very important part of St. Eustatius’ culture and in 2005 the St. Eustatius Musical Foundation was founded.