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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 the island of Saint Martin to the French and Dutch, who divided it amongst themselves in 1648. The establishment of cotton, tobacco, and sugar plantations dramatically expanded slavery on the island in the 18th and 19th centuries; the practice was not abolished in the Dutch half until 1863. The island's economy declined until 1939 when it became a free port; the tourism industry was dramatically expanded beginning in the 1950s. In 1954, Sint Maarten and several other Dutch Caribbean possessions became part of the Kingdom of the... See More



 Caribbean, located in the Leeward Islands (northern) group; Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean Sea; Sint Maarten lies east of the US Virgin Islands

Geographic Coordinates:

 18 4 N, 63 4 W


 Total: 34 sq km
Land: 34 sq km
Water: 0 sq km

Note: Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin

Area - Comparative:

 One-fifth the size of Washington, DC

Land Boundaries:

 Total: 15 km
Border countries: Saint Martin (France) 15 km


 364 km (Rank: 125)

Maritime Claims:

 Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm


 Tropical marine climate, ameliorated by northeast trade winds, results in moderate temperatures; average rainfall of 1500 mm/year; July-November is the hurricane season


 Low, hilly terrain, volcanic origin

Elevation Extremes:

 Lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
Highest point: Mount Flagstaff 386 m

Natural Resources:

 Fish, salt

Land Use:

 Arable land: 10%
Permanent crops: 0%
Other: 90%

Natural Hazards:

 Subject to hurricanes from July to November

Geography - Note:

 The northern border is shared with the French overseas collectivity of Saint Martin; together, these two entities make up the smallest landmass in the world shared by two self-governing states

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 English (official) 67.5%, Spanish 12.9%, Creole 8.2%, Dutch (official) 4.2%, Papiamento (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect) 2.2%, French 1.5%, other 3.5% (2001 census)


 Roman Catholic 39%, Protestant 44.8% (Pentecostal 11.6%, Seventh-Day Adventist 6.2%, other Protestant 27%), none 6.7%, other 5.4%, Jewish 3.4%, not reported 0.7% (2001 census)


 37,429 (January 2010 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 23.4% (male 4,299/female 4,455)
15-64 years: 73% (male 13,053/female 14,259)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 608/female 755) (2010 est.)

Death Rate:

 3 deaths/1,000 population (2009)

Net Migration Rate:

 14.24 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 0.98 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2010)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: NA
Male: 73.1 years
Female: 78.2 years (2009)

Total Fertility Rate:

 1.7 children born/woman (2009)

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Country Name:

 Dutch long form: Land Sint Maarten
Dutch short form: Sint Maarten
English long form: Country of Sint Maarten
English short form: Sint Maarten
Former: Netherlands Antilles; Curacao and Dependencies

Government Type:



 Name: Philipsburg
Geographic coordinates: 18 1 N, 63 2 W
Time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative Divisions:

 None (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

Dependency Status:

 Constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs granted in 2010; Dutch Government responsible for defense and foreign affairs


 None (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

National Holiday:

 Queen's Day (Birthday of Queen-Mother JULIANA and accession to the throne of her oldest daughter BEATRIX), 30 April (1909 and 1980)


 Staatsregeling, 10 October 2010; revised Kingdom Charter pending

Legal System:

 Based on Dutch civil law system with some English common law influence


 18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: Queen BEATRIX of the Netherlands (since 30 April 1980); represented by Governor General Eugene HOLIDAY (since 10 October 2010)

Head of government: Sarah WESCOTT-WILLIAMS (since 10 October 2010)

Cabinet: Cabinet

Elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch for a six-year term; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is usually elected prime minister by the legislature

Legislative Branch:

 Unicameral parliament or Staten (15 seats; members elected by popular vote for four year term)

Elections: last held 17 September 2010 (next to be held in 2014)

Election results: percent of vote by party - National Alliance 45.9%, UPP 36.1%, Democratic Party 17.1%; seats by party - National Alliance 7, UPP 6, Democratic Party 2

Judicial Branch:

 Common Court of Justice, Joint High Court of Justice (judges appointed by the monarch)

Political Parties and Leaders:

 Democratic Party or DP [Sarah WESCOTT-WILLIAMS]; National Alliance or NA [William MARLIN]; United People's Party or UPP [Theodore HEYLIGER]; Concordia Political Alliance or CPA [Jeffery RICHARDSON]

Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 None (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 The US does not have an embassy in Sint Maarten; the Consul General to Curacao is accredited to Sint Maarten

Flag Description:

 Two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and blue with a white isosceles triangle based on the hoist side; the center of the triangle displays the Sint Maarten coat of arms; the arms consist of an orange-bordered blue shield prominently displaying the white court house in Philipsburg, as well as a bouquet of yellow sage (the national flower) in the upper left, and the silhouette of a Dutch-French friendship monument in the upper right; the shield is surmounted by a yellow rising sun in front of which is a Brown Pelican in flight; a yellow scroll below the shield bears the motto: SEMPER PROGREDIENS (Always Progressing); the three main colors are identical to those on the Dutch flag

Note: the flag somewhat resembles that of the Philippines, but with the main red and blue bands reversed; the banner more closely evokes the wartime Philippine flag

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" is 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" is official on the Dutch side (see Netherlands)


 (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

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Economy - Overview:

 The economy of Sint Maarten centers around tourism with nearly four-fifths of the labor force engaged in this sector. Over one million visitors come to the island each year - 1.3 million in 2008 - with most arriving through the Princess Juliana International Airport. Cruise ships and yachts also call on Sint Maarten's numerous ports and harbors. No significant agriculture and limited local fishing means that almost all food must be imported. Energy resources and manufactured goods are also imported. Sint Maarten had the highest per capita income among the five islands that formerly comprised the Netherlands Antilles.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $794.7 million (2008 est.)
$748.9 million (2007 est.)
$703.2 million (2006 est.)

Note: data are in 2008 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $794.7 million (2008)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 1.6% (2008 est.)
4.5% (2007 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $15,400 (2008 est.)

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 0.4%
Industry: 18.3%
Services: 81.3% (2008 est.)

Labor Force:

 23,200 (2008 est.)

Labor Force - By Occupation:

 Agriculture: 1.1%
Industry: 15.2%
Services: 83.7% (2008 est.)

Unemployment Rate:

 10.6% (2008 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 0.7% (2009 est.)
4.6% (2008 est.)

Agriculture - Products:



 Tourism, light industry, and manufacturing

Electricity - Production:

 304.3 million kWh (2008 est.)

Exports - Commodities:


Exchange Rates:

 Convert Neth Antilles Guilder to Any Currency

Netherlands Antillean guilders (ANG) per US dollar -
1.79 (2010)
1.79 (2009)
1.79 (2008)
1.79 (2007)
1.79 (2006)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 5,153 (2001)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: generally adequate facilities

Domestic: extensive interisland microwave radio relay links

International: country code - 599 (country code changes to 1-721 effective 30 September 2011); the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) and the Americas-2 submarine cable systems provide connectivity to Central America, parts of South America and the Caribbean, and the US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Internet Country Code:

 .sx; note - IANA has designated .sx for Sint Maarten, but has not yet assigned it to a sponsoring organization

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Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)


 Total: 53 km

Ports and Terminals:

Oil terminals: Coles Bay oil terminal

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Military Branches:

 The Royal Netherlands Navy maintains a permanent and active presence in the region from its main operating base on Curacao and through a detachment on Sint Maarten; other local security forces include a coast guard, paramilitary National Guard (Vrijwilligers Korps Sint Maarten), and Police Force (KPSM) (2010)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 No conscription (2010)

Military - Note:

 Defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

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Last Updated: December 2011

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