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:: SINT MAARTEN
Page last updated on August 14, 2018
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  • Introduction :: SINT MAARTEN

  • 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 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 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. The change in status became effective in October of 2010 with the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles. On 6 September 2017, Hurricane Irma passed over the island of Saint Martin/Sint Maarten causing extensive damage to roads, communications, electrical power, and housing; the UN estimated that 90% of the buildings were damaged or destroyed. Princess Juliana International Airport was heavily damaged. The island is currently in the midst of a Dutch government-funded reconstruction process.
  • Geography :: SINT MAARTEN

  • 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
    18 4 N, 63 4 W
    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
    one-fifth the size of Washington, DC
    total: 16 km
    border countries (1): Saint Martin (France) 16 km
    58.9 km (for entire island)
    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
    mean elevation: NA
    elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
    highest point: Mount Flagstaff 383 m
    fish, salt
    most populous areas are Lower Prince's Quarter (north of Philipsburg), followed closely by Cul de Sac
    subject to hurricanes from July to November
    scarcity of potable water (increasing percentage provided by desalination); inadequate solid waste management; pollution from construction, chemical runoff, and sewage harms reefs
    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

  • 42,083 (July 2017 est.)
    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)
    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.)
    0-14 years: 18.43% (male 4,045/female 3,709)
    15-24 years: 14.59% (male 3,066/female 3,073)
    25-54 years: 41.99% (male 8,624/female 9,048)
    55-64 years: 15.92% (male 3,204/female 3,495)
    65 years and over: 9.07% (male 1,837/female 1,982) (2017 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total: 41 years
    male: 39.9 years
    female: 42 years (2017 est.)
    1.42% (2017 est.)
    13.1 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    5.2 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    6.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    most populous areas are Lower Prince's Quarter (north of Philipsburg), followed closely by Cul de Sac
    urban population: 100% of total population (2018)
    rate of urbanization: 1.31% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    PHILIPSBURG (capital) 1,327 (2011)
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.09 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    total: 8.1 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 8.8 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 7.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2017 est.)
    total population: 78.3 years
    male: 76 years
    female: 80.8 years (2017 est.)
    2.05 children born/woman (2017 est.)
    NA
    NA
    NA
    note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)
  • Government :: SINT MAARTEN

  • conventional long form: none
    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
    constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs granted in 2010; Dutch Government responsible for defense and foreign affairs
    parliamentary democracy (Estates of Sint Maarten) 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)
    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)
    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
    Staatsregeling, 10 October 2010; revised Kingdom Charter pending 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); note - in October 2010, with the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles, Sint Maarten became a constituent country (semi-autonomous entity) within the Kingdom of the Netherlands
    based on Dutch civil law system with some English common law influence
    see the Netherlands
    18 years of age; universal
    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: Prime Minister Leona MARLIN-ROMEO (since 15 January 2018)
    cabinet: Cabinet
    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
    description: unicameral parliament or Staten (15 seats; members directly elected by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)
    elections: last held 26 February 2018 (next to be held in 2022)
    election results: percent of vote by party - UD 42.4%, NA 30.5%, US Party 13.2%, SMCP 8.7%; seats by party - UD 7, NA 5, US Party 2, SMCP 1
    highest court(s): 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 for life
    subordinate courts: Courts in First Instance
    National Alliance or NA [William MARLIN]
    Sint Maarten Christian Party or SMCP [Wycliffe SMITH]
    United Democrats Party or UD [Theodore HEYLIGER]
    United Sint Maarten Party or US Party [Frans RICHARDSON]
    Caricom (observer), ILO, Interpol, UNESCO (associate), UPU, WMO
    none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands)
    the US does not have an embassy in Sint Maarten; the Consul General to Curacao is accredited to Sint Maarten
    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
    brown pelican, yellow sage (flower); national colors: red, white, blue
    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

  • The impact of Hurricane Irma in September 2017 altered the landscape on Sint Maarten significantly. The tourism industry collapsed and the economy took a hard hit. Sint Maarten has started a multi-year recovery process supported by recovery funding from the Netherlands. Before Hurricane Irma, the economy of Sint Maarten centered around tourism with nearly four-fifths of the labor force engaged in this sector. Nearly 1.7 million visitors came to the island by cruise ship and roughly 528,000 visitors arrived through Princess Juliana International Airport in 2016. Cruise ships and yachts also called 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’s GDP per capita is among the highest in the Caribbean.
    $365.8 million (2014 est.)
    $353.5 million (2013 est.)
    $339.6 million (2012 est.)
    note: datar are in 2014 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 215
    $304.1 million (2014 est.)
    3.6% (2014 est.)
    4.1% (2013 est.)
    1.9% (2012 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 89
    $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
    agriculture: 0.4%
    industry: 18.3%
    services: 81.3% (2008 est.)
    sugar
    tourism, light industry
    23,200 (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 211
    agriculture: 1.1%
    industry: 15.2%
    services: 83.7% (2008 est.)
    12% (2012 est.)
    10.6% (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 162
    4% (2012 est.)
    0.7% (2009 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 161
    sugar
    Netherlands Antillean guilders (ANG) per US dollar -
    1.79 (2016 est.)
    1.79 (2016 est.)
    1.79 (2013)
    1.79 (2012)
    1.79 (2011)
  • Energy :: SINT MAARTEN

  • 304.3 million kWh (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 182
  • Communications :: SINT MAARTEN

  • general assessment: generally adequate facilities
    domestic: extensive interisland microwave radio relay links
    international: country code - 1-721; the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) and the Americas-2 submarine cable systems provide connectivity to Central America, parts of South America, the Caribbean, and the U.S.; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2010)
    .sx; note - IANA has designated .sx for Sint Maarten, but has not yet assigned it to a sponsoring organization
  • Transportation :: SINT MAARTEN

  • 1 (2013)
    total: 1
    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 (2017)
    total: 53 km
    major seaport(s): Philipsburg
    oil terminal(s): Coles Bay oil terminal
  • Military and Security :: SINT MAARTEN

  • no regular military forces (2012)
    defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands