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 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 and forced to close 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

    Area:
    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
    Coastline:
    58.9 km (for entire island)
    Maritime claims:
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
    Climate:

    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

    Terrain:

    low, hilly terrain, volcanic origin

    Elevation:
    mean elevation: NA
    elevation extremes: 0 m lowest point: Caribbean Sea
    383 highest point: Mount Flagstaff
    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:
    42,677 (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    Languages:
    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)
    Religions:
    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: 18.5% (male 4,110 /female 3,785)
    15-24 years: 14.19% (male 3,049 /female 3,009)
    25-54 years: 40.93% (male 8,539 /female 8,930)
    55-64 years: 16.52% (male 3,356 /female 3,694)
    65 years and over: 9.85% (male 2,017 /female 2,188) (2018 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Median age:
    total: 41.2 years
    male: 39.8 years
    female: 42.2 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 43
    Population growth rate:
    1.39% (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 80
    Birth rate:
    13.1 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 147
    Death rate:
    5.4 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 182
    Net migration rate:
    6.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 15
    Population distribution:
    most populous areas are Lower Prince's Quarter (north of Philipsburg), followed closely by Cul de Sac
    Urbanization:
    urban population: 100% of total population (2018)
    rate of urbanization: 1.56% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population:
    1327 PHILIPSBURG (capital) (2011)
    Sex ratio:
    at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    0-14 years: 1.09 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    15-24 years: 0.98 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    55-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    Infant mortality rate:
    total: 7.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    male: 8.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    female: 7.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 152
    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 78.5 years (2018 est.)
    male: 76.1 years (2018 est.)
    female: 80.9 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 62
    Total fertility rate:
    2.04 children born/woman (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 112
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - deaths:
    NA
    Major infectious diseases:

    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

  • Government :: Sint Maarten
  • Country name:
    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
    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 (Estates of Sint Maarten) under a constitutional monarchy

    Capital:
    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)

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

    Independence:

    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

    Constitution:
    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) (2018)
    Citizenship:
    see the Netherlands
    Suffrage:

    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: Prime Minister Leona MARLIN-ROMEO (since 15 January 2018)
    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
    Legislative branch:
    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
    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 for life
    subordinate courts: Courts in First Instance
    Political parties and leaders:
    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]
    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:
    sugar
    Industries:
    tourism, light industry
    Labor force:
    23,200 (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 210
    Labor force - by occupation:
    agriculture: 83.7% (2008 est.)
    industry: 15.2% (2008 est.)
    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:
    sugar
    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 - production:
    304.3 million kWh (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 180
  • Communications :: Sint Maarten
  • Telephone system:
    general assessment: generally adequate facilities (2010)
    domestic: extensive interisland microwave radio relay links (2010)
    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)
    Internet country code:

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

  • Transportation :: Sint Maarten
  • Airports:
    1 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 236
    Airports - with paved runways:
    total: 1 (2017)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2017)

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

    Roadways:
    total: 53 km
    country comparison to the world: 219
    Ports and terminals:
    major seaport(s): Philipsburg
    oil terminal(s): Coles Bay oil terminal
  • Military and Security :: Sint Maarten
  • Military branches:
    no regular military forces (2012)
    Military - note:

    defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands