- Economy of Saba
The economy of Saba, smallest island of the
Netherlands Antilles, has always been limited by its small land mass (five square miles) and low population (currently about 1500 people). Because Sabais a dormant volcano with rocky shores and only one beach, tourismwas slow to develop. However, the island has become known for its eco-tourist opportunities, such as scuba diving, rock climbing, and hiking. The tourism industry now contributes more to the island's economy than any other sector.
Saba's first settlers were a group of Englishmen who shipwrecked on its coast in 1632. As the century progressed,
pirates driven off other Caribbeanislands began using Saba as a hideout and a place to stash their stolen goods. Dutch colonists arrived as well. Agricultureand fishingwere the settlers' main economic activity.
The pirates eventually turned to legitimate trade, and their skills made shipping and sailing an important part of the island's economy. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Dutch colonists raised
sugarcane and produced rumfor export. Rum became the island's largest export during that period.
Because many of Saba's men were gone at sea for extended periods, the island's women took up
lacemaking in the late 1800s. When international mail service became available in 1884, women began selling Saba Lace to American consumers by mail order. Saba Lace exports grew in importance over the subsequent decades, reaching sales of $15,000 (US) per year by 1928.
In the latter part of the 20th century, Saba began developing the infrastructure necessary to support tourism. Juancho Yrausquin Airport, built in 1963, made travel between Saba and other islands more accessible. Likewise, the 1972 construction of a pier in Fort Bay has enabled ferry service between Saba and
Saint Martin, as well as docking of small cruise ships.
In 1987, Saba's coastline and surrounding waters were designated as the
Saba National Marine Park. Because of regulations to help conserve the marine park's reefs and other aquatic life, it has remained a healthy, thriving ecosystem. Scuba divers became increasingly attracted to Saba, since its reefs have been spared the damage suffered by many reefs throughout the world.
Tourism has been steadily increasing in recent years. According to Saba's official tourist bureau, in the first quarter of 2005 tourist arrivals to Saba totaled 7358. The largest number of tourists come from the
United States, but more and more Dutch and other European travelers are making Saba a destination.
Agriculture still contributes to the economy, primarily
livestockand vegetables, especially potatoes. Saba Lace continues to be sold at shops on the island. The Saba University School of Medicine has grown in importance as it has expanded, contributing about 200 jobs (directly and indirectly) and $4.8 million (US) to the GDP.
All the statistics in this section come from the Census Bureau of Statistics
Gross Domestic Product by sector , Saba (mln ANG)Businesses per Industry
This information is according to the Business Census 1998. Due to the CSB's criteria for defining a business during this census, very small businesses were not counted. Certain other groups were excluded, such as small independent farmers and fishermen, market vendors, and independent taxi drivers. The census also does not include government departments and services or foundations completely subsidized by the government.
"Agriculture and mining:" 1
"Electricity, gas and water:" 1
"Hotels and restaurants:" 20
"Transport and communication:" 5
"Financial services:" 5
"Business services:" 2
"Health and social work:" 0
"Other services:" 5
Culture of Saba
* [http://www.cbs.an/default.asp Central Bureau of Statistics, Netherlands Antilles]
* [http://www.sabatourism.com/index.html Saba Tourist Bureau's official website]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.