The island Saba is the smallest inhabited island of the former Netherlands Antilles. Saba is located approximately 30 kilometres to the south-west of Sint Maarten. The island has a land area of 13 square kilometres. Saba consists of a dormant volcano with four lava domes. The steep slopes run to sea and the coast is rocky. The Mount Scenery volcano is 877 meters high, which is the highest point on the island and of the whole Dutch Kingdom. Saba has approximately 1400 residents, the majority of which live in the capital The Bottom. Saba is nicknamed the unspoiled Queen. The people on Saba generate their income from tourism. In 1988 a medical faculty was set up on Saba, the Saba University School of Medicine, which attracts a lot of students from the United States.
Saba was discovered in 1493 by Columbus; the island was inhabited by Indians at that time. Columbus named the island San Cristóbal. A possible explanation for the name Saba is that it was abbreviated as S.†bal and that this was read as Saba. In 1632, the island was owned by the Dutch. In 1635 an English ship run aground near Saba; the survivors were probably the first European residents. The population also has African, Scottish, Irish and Dutch ancestors. It is remarkable that a quarter of the inhabitants has Johnson or Hassel as their family name. Saba changed hands various times. It was owned by France, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In 1816 it finally become Dutch. In 1960 a small airport was made on the northern most point of Saba (Flat-Point). It has the shortest runway for commercial air traffic in the world (400 meters).
The flag of Saba
The flag of Saba has the colours red, white, blue and gold (yellow). The upper half consists of two identical red triangles, the bottom half consists of two identical blue triangles. The diamond in the middle is white and has a gold star with five points. This colour was chosen as a symbol of the island’s wealth and hope for a good future. The star represents the island; the colours red, white and blue symbolize the ties it has with the Netherlands. Furthermore, red symbolizes courage, union and decisiveness; white symbolizes peace and blue symbolizes the sea.