With its claim to fame as “The Island with a Split Personality” — Dutch and French — it’s only fitting that breathtaking St. Maarten features stunning beaches, a plethora of water sports, and even golf. With two distinct heritages, beautiful St. Maarten is as romantic as it is a world-class yachting destination. Not to be outdone by its French island rivals, St. Maarten offers its visitors several options for boating and recreation, relaxing beaches, excellent golf, and an amazing choice of water sports, including off-shore fishing. The island’s hidden beaches and hills are perfect for hiking, biking, and kayaking to places of immense tropical beauty. By night the island invites you to partake in exciting nightclubs and bars. Many of the casinos have various forms of gambling with an array of restaurants, shows, and bands.
St. Maarten History, via Wikipedia
Sint Maarten (Dutch pronunciation: [sɪnt ˈmaːrtə(n)]) is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean. With a population of 41,486 as of January 2019 on an area of 34 km2 (13 sq mi), it encompasses the southern 40% of the divided island of Saint Martin, while the northern 60% of the island constitutes the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Martin. Sint Maarten’s capital is Philipsburg. Collectively, Sint Maarten and the other Dutch islands in the Caribbean are often called the Dutch Caribbean.
Before 10 October 2010, Sint Maarten was known as the Island Territory of Sint Maarten (Dutch: Eilandgebied Sint Maarten), and was one of five island territories (eilandgebieden) that constituted the Netherlands Antilles.
Sint Maarten had been inhabited by Amerindian peoples for many centuries, with archaeological finds pointing to a human presence on the island as early as 2000 BC. These people most likely migrated from South America. The earliest identified group were the Arawak people who are thought to have settled around the period 800 BC – 300 BC. Circa 1300-1400 AD they began to be displaced with the arrival of the more bellicose Carib peoples.
Christopher Columbus was the first European to see St Martin, on 11 November 1493 during his second voyage to the Americas. Nominally now Spanish territory, the island became the focus of the competing interest of the European powers, notably France, Britain and the Netherlands. While the French wanted to colonize the islands between Trinidad and Bermuda, the Dutch found San Martín a convenient halfway point between their colonies in New Amsterdam (present day New York) and New Holland. Meanwhile, the Amerindian population began to decline precipitously, dying from introduced diseases to which they had no immunity.
The Dutch built a fort (Fort Amsterdam) on the island in 1631; Jan Claeszen Van Campen became its first governor and the Dutch West India Company began mining salt on the island. Tensions between the Netherlands and Spain were already high due to the ongoing Eighty Years’ War, and in 1633 the Spanish captured St Martin and drove off the Dutch colonists. At Point Blanche, they built what is now Old Spanish Fort to secure the territory. The Dutch under Peter Stuyvesant attempted to wrest back control in 1644, but were repulsed. However in 1648 the Eighty Years War ended and the Spanish, no longer seeing any strategic or economic value in the island, simply abandoned it.
With St. Martin free again, both the Dutch and the French jumped at the chance to re-establish their settlements. Dutch colonists came from St. Eustatius, while the French came from St. Kitts. After some initial conflict, both sides realized that neither would yield easily. Preferring to avoid an all-out war, they signed the Treaty of Concordia in 1648, which divided the island in two. During the treaty’s negotiation, the French had a fleet of naval ships off shore, which they used as a threat to bargain more land for themselves. In spite of the treaty, relations between the two sides were not always cordial. Between 1648 and 1816, conflicts changed the border sixteen times. The entire island came under effective French control from 1795 when Netherlands became a puppet state under the French Empire until 1815. In the end, the French came out ahead with 53 km2 (20 sq mi; 61%) against 34 km2 (13 sq mi; 39%) on the Dutch side.
To work the new cotton, tobacco and sugar plantations the French and Dutch began importing large numbers of African slaves, who soon came to outnumber the Europeans. The slave population quickly grew larger than that of the land owners. Subjected to cruel treatment, slaves staged rebellions, and their overwhelming numbers made it impossible to ignore their concerns. In 1848, the French abolished slavery in their colonies including the French side of St. Martin. Slaves on the Dutch side of the island protested and threatened to flee to the French side to seek asylum. The local Dutch authorities then freed the colonies’ slaves. While this decree was respected locally, it was not until 1863 when the Dutch abolished slavery in all of their island colonies that the slaves became legally free.
In 1994 the Kingdom of the Netherlands and France had signed the Franco-Dutch treaty on Saint Martin border controls, which allows for joint Franco-Dutch border controls on so-called “risk flights”. After some delay, the treaty was ratified in November 2006 in the Netherlands, and subsequently entered into force on 1 August 2007. Though the treaty is now in force, its provisions are not yet[when?] implemented as the working group specified in the treaty is not yet installed.
On 10 October 2010 Sint Maarten became a constituent country (Dutch: Land Sint Maarten) within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, making it a constitutional equal partner with Aruba, Curaçao, and the Netherlands proper.
Sint Maarten occupies the southern half of the island of Saint Martin in the Leeward Islands; the northern half forms the French territory of Saint Martin. To the north across the Anguilla Channel lies the British Oversea Territory of Anguilla, to the south-east of the island lies the French island of Saint Barthélemy and further south are the Dutch islands of Saba and Saint Eustatius.
Sint Maarten is 34 sq km. The terrain is generally hilly, with the highest peak being Mount Flagstaff at 383m. The area to west around the airport is flatter, and contains the Dutch section of the Simpson Bay Lagoon. The Great Salt Pond lies to north of Philipsburg. Several small islands lie of the coast, notably Cow and Calf, Hen and Chicks, Molly Beday, Pelikan Key, Guana Key of Pelican and Sint Maarten which lies in the Simpson Bay Lagoon.
Sint Maarten is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and as such the Monarch of the Netherlands is head of state, represented locally by a Governor. Following the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, the Constitution of Sint Maarten was unanimously adopted by the island council of Sint Maarten on 21 July 2010. Elections for a new island council were held on 17 September 2010, since the number of seats was increased from 11 to 15. The newly elected island council became the Estates of Sint Maarten on 10 October. Sint Maarten is largely autonomous in internal affairs, with the Netherlands responsible for foreign diplomacy and defence.