Central America :: Sint Maarten
  • Introduction :: Sint Maarten
  • Background:
    Although sighted by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1493 and claimed for Spain, it was the Dutch who occupied the island in 1631 and began exploiting its salt deposits. The Spanish retook the island in 1633, but the Dutch continued to assert their claims. The Spanish finally relinquished the island of Saint Martin to the French and Dutch, who divided it between themselves in 1648. The establishment of cotton, tobacco, and sugar plantations dramatically expanded African 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 Netherlands as the Netherlands Antilles. In a 2000 referendum, the citizens of Sint Maarten voted to become a self-governing country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, effective October 2010. On 6 September 2017, Hurricane Irma hit Saint Martin/Sint Maarten, causing extensive damage to roads, communications, electrical power, and housing. The UN estimated the storm destroyed or damaged 90% of the buildings, and Princess Juliana International Airport was heavily damaged and closed to commercial air traffic for five weeks.
  • Geography :: Sint Maarten
  • Location:

    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

    Map references:

    Central America and the Caribbean

    total: 34 sq km
    land: 34 sq km
    water: 0 sq km

    note: Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin

    country comparison to the world: 236
    Area - comparative:

    one-fifth the size of Washington, DC

    Land boundaries:
    total: 16 km
    border countries (1): Saint Martin (France) 16 km
    58.9 km (for entire island)
    Maritime claims:
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

    tropical marine climate, ameliorated by northeast trade winds, results in moderate temperatures; average rainfall of 150 cm/year; hurricane season stretches from July to November


    low, hilly terrain, volcanic origin

    lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
    highest point: Mount Flagstaff 383 m
    Natural resources:

    fish, salt

    Population distribution:
    most populous areas are Lower Prince's Quarter (north of Philipsburg), followed closely by Cul de Sac
    Natural hazards:

    subject to hurricanes from July to November

    Environment - current issues:

    scarcity of potable water (increasing percentage provided by desalination); inadequate solid waste management; pollution from construction, chemical runoff, and sewage harms reefs

    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

  • People and Society :: Sint Maarten
  • Population:
    43,847 (July 2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Ethnic groups:
    Saint Maarten 29.9%, Dominican Republic 10.2%, Haiti 7.8%, Jamaica 6.6%, Saint Martin 5.9%, Guyana 5%, Dominica 4.4%, Curacao 4.1%, Aruba 3.4%, Saint Kitts and Nevis 2.8%, India 2.6%, Netherlands 2.2%, US 1.6%, Suriname 1.4%, Saint Lucia 1.3%, Anguilla 1.1%, other 8%, unspecified 1.7% (2011 est.)
    note:  data represent population by country of birth
    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 est.)
    Protestant 41.9% (Pentecostal 14.7%, Methodist 10.0%, Seventh Day Adventist 6.6%, Baptist 4.7%, Anglican 3.1%, other Protestant 2.8%), Roman Catholic 33.1%, Hindu 5.2%, Christian 4.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.7%, Evangelical 1.4%, Muslim/Jewish 1.1%, other 1.3% (includes Buddhist, Sikh, Rastafarian), none 7.9%, no response 2.4% (2011 est.)
    Age structure:
    0-14 years: 18.64% (male 4,242/female 3,932)
    15-24 years: 13.26% (male 2,967/female 2,849)
    25-54 years: 39.08% (male 8,417/female 8,717)
    55-64 years: 17.47% (male 3,638/female 4,020)
    65 years and over: 11.55% (male 2,385/female 2,680) (2020 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Median age:
    total: 41.1 years
    male: 39.6 years
    female: 42.7 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 46
    Population growth rate:
    1.34% (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 82
    Birth rate:
    12.9 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 145
    Death rate:
    5.8 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 175
    Net migration rate:
    6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 19
    Population distribution:
    most populous areas are Lower Prince's Quarter (north of Philipsburg), followed closely by Cul de Sac
    urban population: 100% of total population (2020)
    rate of urbanization: 1.56% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population:
    1,327 PHILIPSBURG (capital) (2011)
    Sex ratio:
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
    Infant mortality rate:
    total: 7.5 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 8.2 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 6.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 154
    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 78.8 years
    male: 76.4 years
    female: 81.3 years (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 64
    Total fertility rate:
    2.02 children born/woman (2020 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 111
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
    HIV/AIDS - deaths:
    Education expenditures:
  • Government :: Sint Maarten
  • Country name:
    conventional long form: Country of Sint Maarten
    conventional short form: Sint Maarten
    local long form: Land Sint Maarten (Dutch); Country of Sint Maarten (English)
    local short form: Sint Maarten (Dutch and English)
    former: Netherlands Antilles; Curacao and Dependencies
    etymology: explorer Christopher COLUMBUS named the island after Saint MARTIN of Tours because the 11 November 1493 day of discovery was the saint's feast day
    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

    Government type:

    parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy

    name: Philipsburg
    geographic coordinates: 18 1 N, 63 2 W
    time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    etymology: founded and named in 1763 by John PHILIPS, a Scottish captain in the Dutch navy
    Administrative divisions:

    none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

    note: Sint Maarten is one of four constituent countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; the other three are the Netherlands, Aruba, and Curacao


    none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

    National holiday:

    King's Day (birthday of King WILLEM-ALEXANDER), 27 April (1967); note - King's or Queen's Day are observed on the ruling monarch's birthday; celebrated on 26 April if 27 April is a Sunday; local holiday Sint Maarten's Day, 11 November (1985), commemorates the discovery of the island by COLUMBUS on Saint Martin's Day, 11 November 1493; celebrated on both halves of the island

    history: previous 1947, 1955; latest adopted 21 July 2010, entered into force 10 October 2010 (regulates governance of Sint Maarten but is subordinate to the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
    see the Netherlands

    18 years of age; universal

    Executive branch:
    chief of state: King WILLEM-ALEXANDER of the Netherlands (since 30 April 2013); represented by Governor General Eugene HOLIDAY (since 10 October 2010)
    head of government: Interim Prime Minister Silveria JACOBS (since 16 January 2020)
    cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the prime minister and appointed by the governor-general
    elections/appointments: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch for a 6-year term; following parliamentary elections, the leader of the majority party usually elected prime minister by Parliament
    note - on 16 January 2020, Governor Eugene HOLIDAY appoints Silveria JACOBS as formateur of a new government
    Legislative branch:
    description: unicameral Parliament of Sint Maarten (15 seats; members directly elected by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)
    elections: last held 9 January 2020 (next to be held in 2024)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NA 35.2%, UP 24.2%, US Party 13.2%, PFP 10.6%, UD 8.7%, other 8.1%; seats by party - NA 6, UP 4, PFP 2, US Party 2, UD 1
    Judicial branch:
    highest courts: Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba or "Joint Court of Justice" (consists of the presiding judge, other members, and their substitutes); final appeals heard by the Supreme Court (in The Hague, Netherlands); note - prior to 2010, the Joint Court of Justice was the Common Court of Justice of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba
    judge selection and term of office: Joint Court judges appointed by the monarch serve for life
    subordinate courts: Courts in First Instance
    Political parties and leaders:
    National Alliance or NA [William MARLIN]
    Party for Progress or PFP [Melissa GUMBS]
    Sint Maarten Christian Party or SMCP [Wycliffe SMITH]
    United Democrats Party or UD [Theodore HEYLIGER]
    United Peoples Party or UP [NA]
    United Sint Maarten Party or US Party [Frans RICHARDSON]
    International organization participation:

    Caricom (observer), ILO, Interpol, UNESCO (associate), UPU, WMO

    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 symbol(s):

    brown pelican, yellow sage (flower); national colors: red, white, blue

    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)

  • Economy :: Sint Maarten
  • Economy - overview:
    The economy of Sint Maarten centers around tourism with nearly four-fifths of the labor force engaged in this sector. Nearly 1.8 million visitors came to the island by cruise ship and roughly 500,000 visitors arrived through Princess Juliana International Airport in 2013. Cruise ships and yachts also call on Sint Maarten's numerous ports and harbors. Limited agriculture and 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):
    $365.8 million (2014 est.)
    $353.5 million (2013 est.)
    $339.6 million (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2014 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 214
    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $304.1 million (2014 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate:
    3.6% (2014 est.)
    4.1% (2013 est.)
    1.9% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 97
    GDP - per capita (PPP):
    $66,800 (2014 est.)
    $65,500 (2013 est.)
    $63,900 (2012 est.)
    note: data are in 2015 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 14
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
    agriculture: 0.4% (2008 est.)
    industry: 18.3% (2008 est.)
    services: 81.3% (2008 est.)
    Agriculture - products:
    tourism, light industry
    Labor force:
    23,200 (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 210
    Labor force - by occupation:
    agriculture: 1.1%
    industry: 15.2%
    services: 83.7% (2008 est.)
    Unemployment rate:
    12% (2012 est.)
    10.6% (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 160
    Inflation rate (consumer prices):
    4% (2012 est.)
    0.7% (2009 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 157
    Exports - commodities:
    Exchange rates:
    Netherlands Antillean guilders (ANG) per US dollar -
    1.79 (2017 est.)
    1.79 (2016 est.)
    1.79 (2015 est.)
    1.79 (2014 est.)
    1.79 (2013 est.)
  • Energy :: Sint Maarten
  • Electricity access:
    electrification - total population: 100% (2016)
    Electricity - production:
    304.3 million kWh (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 181
    Crude oil - exports:
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 193
    Crude oil - imports:
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 195
    Refined petroleum products - production:
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 201
    Refined petroleum products - consumption:
    10,600 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 161
    Refined petroleum products - exports:
    0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 202
    Refined petroleum products - imports:
    10,440 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 148
  • Communications :: Sint Maarten
  • Telecommunication systems:
    general assessment: generally adequate facilities; growth sectors include mobile telephone and data segments; effective competition; LTE expansion; tourism and telecom sector contribute greatly to the GDP (2018)
    domestic: extensive interisland microwave radio relay links (2018)
    international: country code - 1-721; landing points for SMPR-1 and the ECFS submarine cables providing connectivity to the Caribbean; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)
    the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
    Internet country code:

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

  • Military and Security :: Sint Maarten
  • Military and security forces:
    no regular military forces; Police Department for local law enforcement, supported by the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (Gendarmerie), the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (Korps Politie Caribisch Nederland or KPCN), and the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard (Kustwacht Caribisch Gebied or KWCARIB0)) (2019)
    Military - note:

    defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

  • Transportation :: Sint Maarten
  • Airports:
    1 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 236
    Airports - with paved runways:
    total: 1 (2019)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

    note: Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) was severely damaged on 6 September 2017 by hurricane Irma, but resumed commercial operations on 10 October 2017

    total: 53 km
    country comparison to the world: 210
    Ports and terminals:
    major seaport(s): Philipsburg
    oil terminal(s): Coles Bay oil terminal