Photos of Sint Maarten

A wide pedestrian avenue in Philipsburg, the capital of Sint Maarten.



Christopher COLUMBUS claimed Saint Martin for Spain in 1493, naming it after the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, but it was the Dutch who occupied the island in 1631 to exploit its salt deposits. The Spanish retook Saint Martin in 1633, but the Dutch continued to assert their claims. The Spanish finally relinquished the island to the French and Dutch, who divided it between themselves in 1648. The border frequently fluctuated over the next 200 years because of friction between the two countries, with the Dutch eventually holding the smaller portion of the island (about 39%) and adopting the Dutch spelling of the island's name for their territory. 

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 in 2010. In 2017, Hurricane Irma hit 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.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



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

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

comparison ranking: total 234

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


highest point: Mount Flagstaff 383 m

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

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

Geography - note

note 1: 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

note 2: Simpson Bay Lagoon (aka as Simson Bay Lagoon or The Great Pond) is one of the largest inland lagoons in the West Indies; the border between the French and Dutch halves of the island of Saint Martin runs across the center of the lagoon, which is shared by both of the island's entities

People and Society


total: 46,215

male: 22,817

female: 23,398 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 210; male 210; total 210

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: 18.4% (male 4,409/female 4,114)

15-64 years: 66.3% (male 15,158/female 15,496)

65 years and over: 15.2% (2024 est.) (male 3,250/female 3,788)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 27.2

youth dependency ratio: 14.9

elderly dependency ratio: 12.3

potential support ratio: 8.1 (2021)

Median age

total: 41 years (2024 est.)

male: 39 years

female: 42.8 years

comparison ranking: total 55

Population growth rate

1.15% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 79

Birth rate

12.2 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 144

Death rate

6.4 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 141

Net migration rate

5.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 16

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 (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.16% annual rate of change (2020-25 est. est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

1,327 PHILIPSBURG (capital) (2011)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 7.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 8.4 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.8 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 150

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 79.7 years (2024 est.)

male: 77.4 years

female: 82.2 years

comparison ranking: total population 62

Total fertility rate

1.97 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 107

Gross reproduction rate

0.96 (2024 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: total: 95.1% of population

unimproved: total: 4.9% of population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 98.8% of population

unimproved: urban: NA

rural: NA

total: 1.2% of population (2017)


total population: NA

male: NA

female: NA

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 12 years

male: 12 years

female: 12 years (2014)


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


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


urban population: 100% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.16% annual rate of change (2020-25 est. est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030


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

Government type

parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy

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


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)

amendments: proposals initiated by the Government or by Parliament; passage requires at least a two-thirds majority of the Parliament membership; passage of amendments relating to fundamental rights, authorities of the governor and of Parliament must include the "views" of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Government prior to ratification by Parliament

Legal system

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


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 Ajamu G. BALY (since 10 October 2022)

head of government: Prime Minister Luc MERCELINA (since 3 May 2024)

cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the prime minister and appointed by the governor

elections/appointments: the monarch is hereditary; governor 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 of Sint Maarten (15 seats; members directly elected by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held 11 January 2024 (next to be held in 2028)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA 23.9%, UPP 19.6%, URSM 13.9%, DP 13.6%, PFP 11.9%, NOW 10.3%, other 6.8%; seats by party - NA 4, UPP 3, URSM 2, DP 2, PFP2, NOW 2; composition - men 8, women 7, percentage women 46.7% (additional member is suspended)

Judicial branch

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 serve for life

subordinate courts: Courts in First Instance

Political parties and leaders

Democratic Party or DP [Sarah WESCOT-WILLIAMS]
National Alliance or NA [Silveria JACOBS]
National Opportunity Wealth or NOW [Christophe EMMANUEL]
Party for Progress or PFP [Melissa GUMBS]
Sint Maarten Christian Party or SMCP [Garcia ARRINDELL]
Unified Resilient St Maarten Movement or URSM [Luc MERCELINA]
United People's Party or UPP [Rolando BRISON]
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

embassy: 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)


Economic overview

high-income, tourism-based Dutch autonomous constituent economy; severe hurricane- and COVID-19-related economic recessions; multilateral trust fund helping offset economic downturn; no property taxation; re-exporter to Saint Martin

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.797 billion (2022 est.)
$1.637 billion (2021 est.)
$1.565 billion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 201

Real GDP growth rate

9.8% (2022 est.)
4.58% (2021 est.)
-13.32% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 16

Real GDP per capita

$41,900 (2022 est.)
$38,400 (2021 est.)
$37,000 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 45

GDP (official exchange rate)

$1.537 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

2.19% (2017 est.)
0.11% (2016 est.)
0.33% (2015 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 34

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.4% (2008 est.)

industry: 18.3% (2008 est.)

services: 81.3% (2008 est.)

comparison rankings: services 29; industry 161; agriculture 213


tourism, light industry

Industrial production growth rate

0.46% (2021 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 156

Labor force

23,200 (2008 est.)

comparison ranking: 207

Unemployment rate

12% (2012 est.)
10.6% (2008 est.)

comparison ranking: 178


3.2% of GDP (2022 est.)
3.42% of GDP (2021 est.)
3.13% of GDP (2020 est.)

note: personal transfers and compensation between resident and non-resident individuals/households/entities

Current account balance

-$41.64 million (2022 est.)
-$300.6 million (2021 est.)
-$290.458 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - net trade and primary/secondary income in current dollars

comparison ranking: 78


$1.372 billion (2022 est.)
$790.938 million (2021 est.)
$527.044 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 173

Exports - partners

France 41%, Antigua and Barbuda 18%, US 13%, Morocco 9%, UK 7% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

gas turbines, scrap iron, jewelry, coconuts/Brazil nuts/cashews, flavored water (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars


$1.318 billion (2022 est.)
$1.003 billion (2021 est.)
$760.824 million (2020 est.)

note: balance of payments - imports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 187

Imports - partners

US 77%, Netherlands 7%, France 4%, Trinidad and Tobago 2%, Switzerland 2% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, jewelry, pearl products, diamonds, cars (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Exchange rates

Netherlands Antillean guilders (ANG) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
1.79 (2022 est.)
1.79 (2021 est.)
1.79 (2020 est.)
1.79 (2019 est.)
1.79 (2018 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2021)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 112

Refined petroleum products - exports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 133

Refined petroleum products - imports

10,440 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 148


Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 68,840 (2012 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 196 (2012 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 199

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: 196 per 100 mobile-cellular teledensity (2012)

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)

Internet country code

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

Internet users

total: 39,089 (2022)

percent of population: 89.5% (2022)

comparison ranking: total 203



1 (2024)

comparison ranking: 232


total: 53 km

comparison ranking: total 218


total ports: 2 (2024)

large: 0

medium: 0

small: 2

very small: 0

ports with oil terminals: 1

key ports: Coles Bay Oil Terminal, Philipsburg

Military and Security

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, KPCN), and the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard (DCCG or Kustwacht Caribisch Gebied (KWCARIB)) (2024)

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Transnational Issues

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 3 — Sint Maarten does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, therefore, Sint Maarten remained on Tier 3; officials took some steps to address trafficking, including passing a National Action Plan and upholding three trafficking convictions; however, the government did not report prosecuting or convicting any traffickers nor identifying any victims for the third consecutive year; Sint Maarten could not provide services to trafficking victims due to its lack of shelters, funding, and formal arrangements with service providers; interagency coordination was severely lacking; officials consistently conflated human trafficking with migrant smuggling (2023)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit foreign victims and, to a lesser extent, domestic victims in Sint Maarten; women and girls from Latin America, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Russia are vulnerable to sex trafficking; women from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking in Sint Maarten; government officials report a significant number of migrant workers are vulnerable to forced labor in domestic service and housekeeping, construction, Chinese national-owned markets, retail shops, food services, and landscaping; criminals, including smugglers, may exploit migrants who transit Sint Maarten en route to the US and Canada—especially Brazilian and Cuban nationals—in forced labor or sex trafficking (2023)