National Geographic : 1931 Jan
SKYPATHS THROUGH LATIN AMERICA Photograph by Capt. A. W. Stevens SABA ISLAND IS KNOWN TO MANY OLD SAILORS AS "NAPOLEON'S COCKED HAT" Since Dutch sailors swept the seas with brooms at their mastheads, Saba has been the retreat of Dutch sea-going men and their families. A Dutch colony, including many retired sailors, has dwelt here for generations. The boats built here are the best in the Caribbees. The wood is imported, and when the craft is finished it is lowered over the cliffs. as would have hailed Ponce de Leon in his day, cameramen from the newspapers came out to "shoot" us and our big Nyrba ship. Looking down as you fly, you see how crowded this island is, with tiny huts stand ing in every nook and cranny and cling ing even to hilltops to save level space for crops. And children fairly swarm. The death rate is about 23, the birth rate 39 per I,ooo! American rule checks disease; since the Spanish flag came down, the population has grown from about 900,000 to 1,544, ooo. Economic changes continue. From 1910 to 1920 the census shows 17,ooo small farms were merged into the big plan tations. This is simply the result of the modern tendency of agriculture every where to enlarge the unit of its operations. As lands here rose in price, small holders sold out and took jobs on the bigger plan tations. More and more land is devoted to rais ing pineapples, citrus fruits, sugar, and tobacco. The food of the people-rice, beans, and dried codfish-must be im ported. Meat, too, is scarce. Much land on which cattle once grazed has been put under plow, thus diminishing the herds.