Saint Martin

Saint Martin

Infobox Islands
name = Saint Martin

image caption =
image size =

map_custom = no
native name = Sint Maarten nl icon
Saint-Martin fr icon
native name link =
nickname = "The Friendly Island"
location = Caribbean Sea
coordinates = Coord|18|04|N|63|03|W|display=inline,title
archipelago = Leeward Islands, Lesser Antilles
total islands =
major islands =
area = convert|37|km2|sqmi|abbr=on
length =
width =
highest mount = Pic Paradis
elevation = convert|414|m|ft|abbr=on
country = Kingdom of the Netherlands
country admin divisions title = Constituent country
country admin divisions = flag|Netherlands Antilles
country admin divisions title 1 = Island area
country admin divisions 1 = flag|Sint Maarten
country largest city = Philipsburg
country largest city population = 1,338
country 1 = France
country 1 admin divisions title = Overseas collectivity
country 1 admin divisions = flag|Saint Martin|local
country 1 largest city = Marigot
country 1 largest city population = 5,700
population = 85,000
population as of =
density =
ethnic groups =
additional info =

Saint Martin is a tropical island in the northeast Caribbean, approximately 300 km (186 miles) east of Puerto Rico. The 87 km² island is divided roughly in half between France and the Netherlands Antilles; it is the smallest inhabited sea island divided between two nations. The southern Dutch half comprises the "Eilandgebied Sint Maarten" (Island area of St. Martin) and is part of the Netherlands Antilles. The northern French half comprises the "Collectivité de Saint-Martin" (Collectivity of St. Martin) and is an overseas collectivity of France.

Collectively, the two territories are known as "St-Martin/St. Maarten". Sometimes "SXM", the IATA identifier for Princess Juliana International Airport (the island's main airport), is used to refer to the island.


The main towns are Philipsburg (Dutch side) and Marigot (French side). The island has approximately a total resident population of 85,000. The official population on the Dutch side is 50,000 while on the French side is 35,000. Human density is 3 times that of the Netherlands. In addition there is an average of 1,000,000 tourist visitors per year.

The highest hilltop is the "Pic Paradis" (424 m) on center of a hill chain. There is no river on the island, but many dry guts. Hiking trails give access to the dry forest covering tops and slopes.

The average yearly air temperature is 27 °C (min 17 °C, max 35 °C) and sea surface temperature 26.4 °C. The total average yearly rainfall is 995 mm, with 99 days of thunder.

Neither of the two halves of St. Martin had separate FIPS PUB 10-4 territory codes or ISO 3166-1 codes prior to 2007; they were coded as GP (Guadeloupe) and NA/AN (Netherlands Antilles). The status of the French side changed to an overseas collectivity in February 2007, and it received the ISO 3166-1 code MF in October 2007. [ISO 3166-1 Newsletter. [ Assignment of code elements for Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin and update of France and other French Territories] ] The status of the Dutch side is due to change to a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands in December 2008, and it is expected that Dutch part will also get an ISO 3166-1 code of its own shortly thereafter.

Common history

Short review

*circa 800AD Settled by Arawak Indians who arrived from South America, given the name "Soualiga", or Land of Salt.
*11 Nov 1493 Claimed for Spain by Columbus, named Isla de San Martin, upon his arrival.
*1624 Some French cultivate tobacco on "French Quarter".
*1631 Dutch small colony on "Groot baai" to collect salt.
*1633 - 1647 Spanish army from Puerto Rico builds the first military fort, but after a few years destroy it and abandon the island forever.
*23 Mar 1648 Divided into French (north) and Dutch (south) zones
(Dutch zone subordinate to Sint Eustatius until 1672).
*1679 - 1689 French occupy entire island.
*1689 - 1792 Dutch zone under Dutch West India Company administration.
*1690 - 1699 English occupy entire island.
*1699 - 1702 French occupy entire island.
*1703 - 1717 Dutch occupy entire island
*24 Feb 1779 - 3 Feb 1781 French occupy entire island.
* 3 Feb 1781 - 26 Nov 1781 British occupy entire island.
*18 May 1793 - 5 Apr 1794 Dutch administer entire island
*29 Apr 1795 - 24 Mar 1801 French occupy entire island.
*24 Mar 1801 - 1 Dec 1802 British occupy entire island.
* 9 Jul 1810 Annexed along with Holland by France (not effected).
*1810 - 1816 British occupy entire island.
*1816 French and Dutch zones resumed.
*1919 - 1 Apr 1983 Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten united as Netherlands Windward Islands.
*1936 Dutch side officially adopted the Dutch spelling Sint Maarten.
*23 Jun 2000 Referendum supports a "status aparte" as a separate entity within The Netherlands by 68.9%.
*2003 The population of the French part of the island votes in favour of secession from Guadeloupe in order to form a separate overseas collectivity (COM) of France
*2 Nov 2006 Sint Maarten and Curaçao sign agreement with The Netherlands on "status aparte"
*22 Feb 2007 French side becomes a separate an overseas collectivity (COM)
*15 Dec 2008 Date set for dissolution of Netherlands Antilles. This date has been postponed, although it is still planned [ [ St. Maarten-St. Martin - Consensus, but no date set for new status ] ]


In 1493, Christopher Columbus embarked on his second voyage to the New World. According to legend, Columbus sighted and perhaps anchored at the island of Saint Martin on November 11, 1493, the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours. In his honor, Columbus named the island San Martin. This name was translated to "Sint Maarten" (Dutch), "Saint Martin" (French and English).When Columbus sailed these seas, St. Martin was populated, if populated at all, by Carib amerindians. The former Arawaks had been chased by the warlike Caribs coming from the North coast of South America a short time before the arrival of the Spaniards who followed in Columbus' wake. The English word "cannibal" is derived from an Arawak word which referred to the Caribs. The Arawaks were a relatively cultured, agricultural people who fashioned pottery and whose social organization was headed by hereditary chieftains who derived their power from personal deities called "zemis". The Caribs, on the other hand, concentrated on warfare. They killed and, allegedly, ate the Arawak men, then "married" the Arawak women. Fact|date=July 2007

The Caribs' territory was not completely conquered until the mid-17th century when most of them perished in the struggle between the French, English, Dutch, Danes and Spanish for control of the West Indies. The Dutch first began to ply the island's ponds for salt in the 1620s. Despite the Dutch presence on the island, the Spaniards recaptured St. Martin in 1633 and, one year later, built a fort (now "Ft. Amsterdam") and another artillery battery at "Pointe Blanche" to assert their claim and control access to "Great bay" salt pond. The Spaniards introduced the first African slaves to the area in the 16th century but the main influx of African slaves took place in the 18th century with the development of Sugarcane plantations by the French protestants and some Dutch jews. Slavery was abolished in the first half of the 19th century, whereupon on some of their territories the British imported Chinese and East Indians to take the place of slaves. Thus, St. Martin and the other islands are populated by a mixture of Amerindian, European, African, Indians and Asian peoples. West Indian cultures such as in St. Martin are, consequently, exceedingly rich and varied.

Border division

* On March 23 1648, France and the Dutch Republic agreed to divide the island between their two nations, so they signed the Treaty of Concordia.
* Since 1975, several versions of a legend about the division have become popular, especially in tourism publications. An often repeated story is that the island was divided into two sections through a race; the French-dominated community chose one person for the race and the Dutch-dominated community chose another, a man named Menno Versteeg. The two representatives were put back to back in one extreme of the island, and made to walk along the coast in opposite directions. They were not allowed to run. At the point where they eventually met, a line was drawn across the island, connecting their starting point with their meeting point. This became the frontier which divides Saint-Martin from Sint Maarten, according to the legend. The reason for the difference in size between the two sides was said to be that the French representative moved faster than the Dutch.
In one version, the explanation for the French walker's quicker pace is that he drank wine beforehand, while the Dutch walker drank beer. This is used to support the claim that wine has restorative effects and that it was the French drink of choice that enabled the French walker to move faster.

Culture and tourism

Sint Maarten, the Dutch side, is known for its festive nightlife, beaches, jewelry, exotic drinks made with native rum-based guavaberry liquors, and plentiful casinos, while Saint-Martin, the French side, is known more for its nude beaches, clothes, shopping (including outdoor markets), and rich French and Indian Caribbean cuisine.

Sint Maarten/Saint-Martin is home to several world-class accommodations, including hotels, villas, and timeshares, many of which are privately available for rent or sale. Some properties have over 200 rooms, while others have fewer than twenty. Many are located directly on beaches and in upscale shopping districts. Villas pepper the coast, boasting private beaches. Some are private residences, while others are available to affluent renters.

Rental cars are the primary mode of transportation for visitors staying on island. The island is served by several well-known agencies. If any driving is expected off the major roads (such as to some of the more secluded beaches), a 4-wheel drive is recommended. Traffic on the island, however, has become a major problem; long traffic jams between Marigot, Philipsburg and the airport are common.

Because the island is located along the intertropical convergence zone, it is occasionally menaced by tropical storm activity in the late summer and early fall. It is important to monitor local weather information during this time.

The island is widely known for its hundreds of gourmet (and more moderately priced) restaurants on both sides of the island.

Neighbouring islands include Saint-Barthélemy (French), Anguilla (British), Saba (Dutch), Sint Eustatius "Statia" (Dutch), Saint Kitts and Nevis (Independent, formerly British). With the exception of Nevis, all of these islands are easily visible on a clear day from St. Maarten.


Shopping on St Maarten and Saint Martin offers high quality duty-free goods in numerous boutiques. The island has a well-earned reputation as a "shopper's paradise". Popular goods include local crafts & arts, exotic foods, jewelry, liquor, tobacco, leather goods, as well as most designer goods. Because of Duty free Tax free abound the island has become more of a shopping and relaxing destination. Most often the designer goods are offered at significant discounts, often up to 40% lower than US retail prices.

Saint Martin uses the euro as its currency, while Sint Maarten is currently outside the Eurozone and uses the Netherlands Antillean guilder, pegged at 1.79 per United States dollar. It is unknown if Sint Maarten will shift to the euro some time after the Netherlands Antilles dissolves.



[ here] |thumb] The island is served by many major airlines that bring in large jets, including Boeing 747s, Airbus A340s, and McDonnell Douglas MD-11s carrying tourists from across the world on a daily basis. This fuels the island's largest revenue source: tourism. The short length of the main runway at Princess Juliana International Airport, combined with the airport's close proximity with the beach, causes some spectacular approaches. Aviation photographers flock to the airport to capture pictures of large jets just a few feet above sunbathers on the beach. [ [ Aviation Photos: Philipsburg / St. Maarten - Princess Juliana (SXM / TNCM)] ,] There is also an airport on the French side of the island at Grand Case, called Grand Case Airport.

ee also

* Saint Martin
* Sint Maarten
* History of St. Martin
* List of Sint Maarten governors
* Culture of St. Martin
* "O sweet Saint-Martin's Land" (bi-national song/anthem of Saint-Martin/Sint-Maarten)
* Région Guadeloupe et Saint Martin (Scouting)
* Princess Juliana International Airport


External links

Travel and tourism

* [ Dutch St. Maarten] — St. Maarten Tourist Bureau
* [ French Saint Martin] — Saint Martin Tourist Office
* [ Princess Juliana International Airport, St. Maarten] — Official site


* [ Birds of St. Martin] - by Eric Dubois-Millot, Action Nature.

News and media

* [ The Daily Herald (St. Maarten)|"The Daily Herald"] — Daily newspaper from St. Maarten
* [ "LE FAXinfo"] — Other daily newspaper from Saint Martin (in French)

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