About Saint Martin [ Overseas Collectivity ]

Here we've distilled information and facts from various sources about the location, size, population, geography, transport, climate, economy, history, government, law, and so on, of Saint Martin; into a view that makes sense for a traveller to, or within, this overseas collectivity.

Location

Island 300 km southeast of Puerto Rico

Climate

Temperature averages 80-85 degrees all year long; low humidity, gentle trade winds, brief, intense rain showers; July-November is the hurricane season

Elevation

lowest point: Caribbean Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pic du Paradis 424 m

Geo Notes

The island of Saint Martin is the smallest landmass in the world shared by two independent states, the French territory of Saint Martin and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten

Approved Official Names

conventional long form: Overseas Collectivity of Saint Martin
conventional short form: Saint Martin
local long form: Collectivity d'outre mer de Saint-Martin
local short form: Saint-Martin

Capital City

name: Marigot
geographical coordinates: 18 04 N, 63 05 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight savings: +1 hour

Natuaral Hazards

Subject to hurricanes from July to November

Environmental Issues

Fresh water supply is dependent on desalinization of sea water

Sex Ratio

at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Languages Spoken

French (official language), English, Dutch, French Patois, Spanish, Papiamento (dialect of Netherlands Antilles)

Religions Practiced

Roman Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Protestant, Hindu

Legal System

The laws of France where applicable apply

National Holiday

Bastille Day, 14 July (1789); note - local holiday is Schoalcher Day (Slavery Abolition Day) 12 July (1848)

Telephone System

general assessment: fully integrated access
domestic: direct dial capability with both fixed and wireless systems
international: country code - 590; undersea fiber-optic cable provides voice and data connectivity to Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe

Broadcast Media

1 local TV station; receives television broadcasts from the Netherlands Antilles; access to about 20 radio stations, including RFO Guadeloupe radio broadcasts via repeater (2008)

Background

Although sighted by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1493 and claimed for Spain, it was the Dutch who occupied the island in 1631 and set about exploiting its salt deposits. The Spanish retook the island in 1633, but continued to be harassed by the Dutch. The Spanish finally relinquished Saint Martin to the French and Dutch, who divided it amongst themselves in 1648. Friction between the two sides caused the border to frequently fluctuate over the next two centuries, with the French eventually holding the greater portion of the island (about 57%). The cultivation of sugar cane introduced slavery to the island in the late 18th century; the practice was not abolished until 1848. The island became a free port in 1939; the tourism industry was dramatically expanded during the 1970s and 1980s. In 2003, the populace of Saint Martin voted to secede from Guadeloupe and in 2007, the northern portion of the island became a French overseas collectivity.

Economy Overview

The economy of Saint Martin centers around tourism with 85% of the labor force engaged in this sector. Over one million visitors come to the island each year with most arriving through the Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten. No significant agriculture and limited local fishing means that almost all food must be imported. Energy resources and manufactured goods are also imported, primarily from Mexico and the United States. Saint Martin is reported to have the highest per capita income in the Caribbean.

National Anthem

name: "O Sweet Saint Martin's Land"
lyrics/music: Gerard KEMPS
note: the song, written in 1958, is used as an unofficial anthem for the entire island (both French and Dutch sides); as a collectivity of France, in addition to the local anthem, "La Marseillaise" remains official on the French side (see France); as a constituent part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in addition to the local anthem, "Het Wilhelmus" remains official on the Dutch side (see Netherlands)

Saint Martin location map
Size

total: 54.4 sq km
land: 54.4 sq km
water: NEGL

Saint Martin flag
Population

30,235 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic Groups

creole (mulatto), black, Guadeloupe Mestizo (French-East Asia), white, East Indian

Dependency Of

Overseas collectivity of France

Independence Date

none (overseas collectivity of France)

Voting Rights

18 years of age, universal

Internet Country Code

.mf; note - .gp, the internet country code for Guadeloupe, and .fr, the internet country code for France, might also be encountered

Number Airports

1 (2010)

Number Paved Airports

total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2010)

Exchange Rates

euros (EUR) per US dollar - 0.6827 (2008), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004)

Main Industries

Tourism, light industry and manufacturing, heavy industry

Main Occupations

85% directly or indirectly employed in tourist industry