The three Dutch Leeward Islands
sit east of Puerto Rico, sandwiched between Anguilla and St Kitts. The islands are
located 900 km north of the other Dutch Caribbean islands.
In the hectic times of the 17th and 18th century, the
isles changed hands many times. Dutch, French, Brits and Spaniards gained and lost possession.
Since the early 19th century the
three islands mostly stayed under Dutch control.
Sint Maarten is by far the largest of the three, both in size and population, even
as it has to share Saint Martin Island with neighbour French Saint Martin.
American tourism is the island's main source
Tiny Saba is actually the top of a large underwater volcano, called Mount Scenery. Life can
be slow here, but Sabans are proud of their ancestry and highly value ecological conservation. The island is nicknamed The Unspoiled
Queen. Not surprisingly, ecotourism is now Saba's main industry.
is also of volcanic making with the
crater of the dormant Quill
as a reminder of that violent past.
The NuStar oil terminal is the major private employer.
In 2017 Hurricane
swept though the area, delivering a direct hit to St Maarten and causing considerable damage to Saba and St Eustatius.
all but eliminated the tourism industry and even destabilized the local governments.
The COVID-19 crisis
of 2020 has not
really helped the economic recovery of the region.