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Central America :: Saint Martin Print
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  • Introduction :: Saint Martin
  • Background field listing
    Although sighted by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1493 and claimed for Spain, it was the Dutch who occupied the island in 1631 to exploit 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 between 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 61%). The cultivation of sugar cane introduced African 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. In 2010, the southern Dutch portion of the island became the independent nation of Sint Maarten within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. On 6 September 2017, Hurricane Irma passed over the island of Saint Martin causing extensive damage to roads, communications, electrical power, and housing; the UN estimated that 90% of the buildings were damaged or destroyed.
  • Geography :: Saint Martin
  • Location field listing
    Caribbean, located in the Leeward Islands (northern) group; French part of the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean Sea; Saint Martin lies east of the US Virgin Islands
    Geographic coordinates field listing
    18 05 N, 63 57 W
    Map references field listing
    Central America and the Caribbean
    Area field listing
    total: 54.4 sq km
    land: 54.4 sq km
    water: negligible
    country comparison to the world: 231
    Area - comparative field listing
    more than one-third the size of Washington, DC
    Land boundaries field listing
    total: 16 km
    border countries (1): Sint Maarten 16 km
    Coastline field listing
    58.9 km (for entire island)
    Climate field listing
    temperature averages 27-29 degrees Celsius all year long; low humidity, gentle trade winds, brief, intense rain showers; hurricane season stretches from July to November
    Elevation field listing
    lowest point: Caribbean Ocean 0 m
    highest point: Pic du Paradis 424 m
    Natural resources field listing
    Population distribution field listing
    most of the population is found along the coast, with a largest concentrations around the capital Marigot, Orleans, and Grand-Case
    Natural hazards field listing
    subject to hurricanes from July to November
    Environment - current issues field listing
    excessive population pressure (increasing settlement); waste management; salinity intrusions into the main land of the island; fresh water supply is dependent on desalination of sea water; over exploitation of marine resources (reef fisheries, coral and shell); indiscriminate anchoring of boats damages coral reefs,causing underwater pollution and changes the sediment dynamics of Saint Martin's Island
    Geography - note field listing
    the southern border is shared with Sint Maarten, a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands; together, these two entities make up the smallest landmass in the world shared by two self-governing states
  • People and Society :: Saint Martin
  • Population field listing
    32,284 (July 2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 216
    Ethnic groups field listing
    other Creole (mulatto), black, Guadeloupe Mestizo (French-East Asia), white, East Indian
    Languages field listing
    French (official), English, Dutch, French Patois, Spanish, Papiamento (dialect of Netherlands Antilles)
    Religions field listing
    Roman Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Protestant, Hindu
    Age structure field listing
    0-14 years: 26.05% (male 4,184 /female 4,225)
    15-24 years: 10.29% (male 1,638 /female 1,685)
    25-54 years: 46.52% (male 7,181 /female 7,836)
    55-64 years: 8.76% (male 1,317 /female 1,511)
    65 years and over: 8.38% (male 1,195 /female 1,512) (2018 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Median age field listing
    total: 32.8 years
    male: 31.9 years
    female: 33.7 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 97
    Net migration rate field listing
    -5.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 198
    Population distribution field listing
    most of the population is found along the coast, with a largest concentrations around the capital Marigot, Orleans, and Grand-Case
    Sex ratio field listing
    at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.87 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
    total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2018 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS field listing
    Major infectious diseases field listing

    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

    Education expenditures field listing
  • Government :: Saint Martin
  • Country name field listing
    conventional long form: Overseas Collectivity of Saint Martin
    conventional short form: Saint Martin
    local long form: Collectivite d'outre mer de Saint-Martin
    local short form: Saint-Martin
    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 field listing
    overseas collectivity of France

    note: the only French overseas collectivity that is part of the EU

    Government type field listing
    parliamentary democracy (Territorial Council); overseas collectivity of France
    Capital field listing
    name: Marigot
    geographic coordinates: 18 04 N, 63 05 W
    time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    Independence field listing
    none (overseas collectivity of France)
    National holiday field listing
    Fete de la Federation, 14 July (1790); note - local holiday is Schoelcher Day (Slavery Abolition Day) 12 July (1848), as well as St. Martin's Day, 11 November (1985), which commemorates the discovery of the island by COLUMBUS on Saint Martin's Day, 11 November 1493; the latter holiday celebrated on both halves of the island
    Constitution field listing
    history: 4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
    amendments: amendment procedures of France's constitution apply (2018)
    Citizenship field listing
    see France
    Suffrage field listing
    18 years of age, universal
    Executive branch field listing
    chief of state: President Emmanuel MACRON (since 14 May 2017); represented by Prefect Anne LAUBIES (since 8 June 2015)
    head of government: President of Territorial Council Daniel GIBBS (since 2 April 2017); First Vice President Valerie DAMASEAU (since 2 April 2017)
    cabinet: Executive Council; note - there is also an advisory economic, social, and cultural council
    elections/appointments: French president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); prefect appointed by French president on the advice of French Ministry of Interior; president of Territorial Council elected by its members for a 5-year term; election last held on 26 March 2017
    election results: Daniel GIBBS (TDG) elected president; Territorial Council vote - 18 votes, 4 blank, 1 invalid
    Legislative branch field listing
    description: unicameral Territorial Council (23 seats; members directly elected by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed to serve 5-year terms); Saint Martin elects 1 member to the French Senate and one member (shared with Saint Barthelemy) to the French National Assembly
    elections: Territorial Council - last held on 18 and 25 March 2017 (next to be held in March 2022)
    election results: Territorial Council - percent of vote by party (first round) - TDG 49.1%, MJP 13.7%, MVP 12.3%, HOPE 8.7%, Continuons pour Saint-Martin 6.5%, other 9.7%; seats by party - NA; percent of vote by party (second round) - TDG 64.3%, MJP 24.2%, MVP 11.5.5%; seats by party - TDG 18, MJP 4, MVP 1; composition - men 13, women 10, percent of women 43.5%
    French Senate - held on 28 September 2014 (next to be held not later than September 2020) French National Assembly - last held on 11 and 18 June 2017 (next to be held by June 2022) French Senate - 1 seat: UMP 1 French National Assembly - 1 seat: UMP 1
    Political parties and leaders field listing
    Continuons pour St. Martin [Aline HANSON]
    En marche vers le progres or MVP [Alain RICHARDSON]
    Gereration Hope or HOPE [Jules CHARVILLE]
    Movement for Justice and Prosperity or MJP [Louis MUSSINGTON]
    New Direction [Jeanne VANTERPOOL]
    Rally Responsibility Success (Rassemblement Responsabilite Reussite or RRR [Alain RICHARDSON]
    Team Daniel Gibbs 2017 or TDG [Daniel GIBBS]
    Union for Progress (Union Pour le Progres or UPP) [Louis-Constant FLEMING]; affiliated with UMP
    International organization participation field listing
    Diplomatic representation in the US field listing
    none (overseas collectivity of France)
    Diplomatic representation from the US field listing
    none (overseas collectivity of France)
    Flag description field listing
    the flag of France is used
    National symbol(s) field listing
    brown pelican
    National anthem field listing
    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)

  • Economy :: Saint Martin
  • Economy - overview field listing

    The economy of Saint Martin centers on 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. The financial sector is also important to Saint Martin’s economy as it facilitates financial mediation for its thriving tourism sector. 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 US. Saint Martin is reported to have one of the highest per capita income in the Caribbean. As with the rest of the Caribbean, Saint Martin’s financial sector is having to deal with losing correspondent banking relationships.

    In September 2017, Hurricane Irma destroyed 95% of the French side of Saint Martin. Along the coastline of Marigot, the nerve center of the economy, the storm wiped out restaurants, shops, banks and open-air markets impacting more than 36,000 inhabitants.

    GDP (purchasing power parity) field listing
    $561.5 million (2005 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 212
    GDP (official exchange rate) field listing
    $561.5 million (2005 est.)
    GDP - per capita (PPP) field listing
    $19,300 (2005 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 92
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin field listing
    agriculture: 1% (2000)
    industry: 15% (2000)
    services: 84% (2000)
    Industries field listing
    tourism, light industry and manufacturing, heavy industry
    Labor force field listing
    17,300 (2008 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 214
    Labor force - by occupation field listing
    85 directly or indirectly employed in tourist industry
    Imports - commodities field listing
    crude petroleum, food, manufactured items
    Exchange rates field listing
    euros (EUR) per US dollar -
    0.885 (2017 est.)
    0.903 (2016 est.)
    0.9214 (2015 est.)
    0.885 (2014 est.)
    0.7634 (2013 est.)
  • Energy :: Saint Martin
  • Electricity access field listing
    electrification - total population: 72% (2016)
    electrification - urban areas: 89.8% (2016)
  • Communications :: Saint Martin
  • Telephone system field listing
    general assessment: fully integrated access;  good interisland and international connections; broadband access; expanded FttP (Fiber to the Home) and LTE markets; regulatory development (2018)
    domestic: direct dial capability with both fixed and wireless systems (2018)
    international: country code - 590; undersea fiber-optic cable provides voice and data connectivity to Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe
    Broadcast media field listing
    1 local TV station; access to about 20 radio stations, including RFO Guadeloupe radio broadcasts via repeater
    Internet country code field listing
    .mf; note - .gp, the Internet country code for Guadeloupe, and .fr, the Internet country code for France, might also be encountered
    Internet users field listing
    total: 1,100
    percent of population: 3.5% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 220
  • Transportation :: Saint Martin
  • Airports field listing
    1 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 235
    Airports - with paved runways field listing
    total: 1 (2017)
    914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2017)
    Transportation - note field listing
    nearest airport for international flights is Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) located on Sint Maarten
  • Military and Security :: Saint Martin
  • Military - note field listing
    defense is the responsibility of France