Fort Island, Guyana

Fort Island is an island in the Essequibo River located in the Essequibo Islands-West Demerara region of Guyana. It is about 16 kilometres (10 mi) from the mouth of the river,[2] and to the east of Hogg Island.[3] In 1687, a wooden fort was built on the island.[2] In 1744, Fort Zeelandia was constructed and served as the capital of Essequibo, a Dutch colony which is nowadays part of Guyana.[4] In 1752, the Court of Policy was built on the island as the legislative body for the colony.[2]

Fort Island
River island
Ruins of Fort Zeelandia
Fort Island is located in Guyana
Fort Island
Fort Island
Location in Guyana
Coordinates: 6°46′56″N 58°30′38″W / 6.7821°N 58.5105°W / 6.7821; -58.5105Coordinates: 6°46′56″N 58°30′38″W / 6.7821°N 58.5105°W / 6.7821; -58.5105
CountryFlag of Guyana.svg Guyana
RegionEssequibo Islands-West Demerara
Population
 (2021)[1]
 • Total95
Time zoneUTC-4
ClimateAf

HistoryEdit

In 1679, Abraham Beekman, the Dutch Governor of the Essequibo colony, ordered the construction of a wooden fort on the island. At the time, the island was called Flag Island. The capital of the colony was located at Fort Kyk-Over-Al.[2] Laurens Storm van 's Gravesande became Governor of Essequibo in 1743,[5] and ordered the construction of Fort Zeelandia, a brick fort, on the island. The fort was finished in 1744.[2] The fort suffered severe damage during the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War.[6]

In 1752, the Court of Policy was built on the island which served as the legislative body for the colony. The Court of Policy is the oldest extant non-military building of Guyana.[7][2][8] In 2007, the Dutch Heritage Museum opened in the building. Fort Zeelandia and the Court of Policy were declared a national monument in 1999 and are maintained by the National Trust of Guyana,[2] and are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site tentative list.[8]

Current situationEdit

 
Church on Fort Island (1979)

The island is inhabited, and was home to 95 people as of 2021.[1] The economy is mainly based on agriculture and fishing.[4][1] The island has a health centre, but no school. The church on the island has been abandoned.[4]

The ferry from Parika to Bartica makes a stop at Fort Island.[9] In 2021, construction started on a stelling (small harbour) on the island, to improve the access to the island, and encourage tourism.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d "$82M Fort Island stelling on track for December deadline". Department of Public Information. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "FORT ZEELANDIA & THE DUTCH HERITAGE MUSEUM (COURT OF POLICY)". National Trust of Guyana. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  3. ^ "Visit the land of many water". Guyana Times International. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "A visit to Fort Island". Stabroek News. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  5. ^ P.J. Blok, P.C. Molhuysen (1927). Nieuw Nederlandsch biografisch woordenboek. Deel 7 (in Dutch). Leiden: Sijthoff. p. 1180. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  6. ^ "Spotlight on the Essequibo: Guyana's Longest River". Guyanese Bank. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  7. ^ "Fort Island". Guyana Tourism. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  8. ^ a b "Fort Zeelandia (including Court of Policy Building)". Unesco. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  9. ^ "Fort Islanders call for better ferry service". Stabroek News via Land of Six Peoples. Retrieved 26 November 2021.