Saint Martin

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Although sighted by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1493 and claimed for Spain, it was the Dutch who occupied the island in 1631 and set about exploiting 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 57%). 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.

Geography

Location

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

18.05° N, 63.57° W

Area 231/257

total: 54.4 sq km

land: 54.4 sq km

water: NEGL

Area - comparative

more than one-third the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries

total: 16 km

border countries (1): Sint Maarten 16 km

Coastline

58.9 km (for entire island)

Climate

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

mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Caribbean Ocean 0 m

highest point: Pic du Paradis 424 m

Natural resources

salt

Natural hazards

subject to hurricanes from July to November

Environment - current issues

freshwater supply is dependent on desalinization of sea water

Geography - note

the island of Saint Martin is the smallest landmass in the world shared by two independent states, the French territory of Saint Martin and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten

People and Society

Ethnic groups

Creole (mulatto), black, Guadeloupe Mestizo (French-East Asia), white, East Indian

Languages

French (official), English, Dutch, French Patois, Spanish, Papiamento (dialect of Netherlands Antilles)

Religions

Roman Catholic, Jehovah's Witnesses, Protestant, Hindu

Population 217/238

31,754 (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 26.51% (male 4,192/female 4,225)

15-24 years: 10.58% (male 1,682/female 1,677)

25-54 years: 47.05% (male 7,101/female 7,838)

55-64 years: 8.57% (male 1,267/female 1,455)

65 years and over: 7.3% (male 1,033/female 1,284) (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 32 years

male: 31 years

female: 32.9 years (2015 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.91 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.87 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female

total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Government

Country name

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

Capital

name: Marigot

geographical coordinates: 18.04° N, 63.05° W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Independence

none (overseas collectivity of France)

National holiday

Fete de la Federation, 14 July (1789); note - local holiday is Schoalcher Day (Slavery Abolition Day) 12 July (1848)

Constitution

4 October 1958 (French Constitution)

Legal system

French civil law

Citizenship

see France

Suffrage

18 years of age, universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Francois HOLLANDE (since 15 May 2012); represented by Deputy Prefect Philippe CHOPIN (since 16 November 2011)

head of government: President of Territorial Council Aline HANSON (since 17 April 2013)

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 17 April 2013 (next to be held in 2018)

election results: Aline HANSON elected president by the Territorial Council

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Territorial Council (23 seats; members directly elected by absolute majority vote to serve 5-year terms)

note: Saint Martin elects 1 member to the French Senate; election last held on 28 September 2014 (next to be held not later than September 2017); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 1; one seat (shared with Saint Barthelemy) was elected to the French National Assembly on 17 June 2012 (next to be held by June 2017); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 1

elections: last held on 18 and 25 March 2012 (next to be held in July 2017)

election results: percent of seats by party - RRR 34.1%, Team Daniel Gibbs 2012 32%, UPP 13.3%, Saint-Martin pour tous 9.4%, other 11.2%; seats by party - NA; second round, percent of seats by party - RRR 56.9%, Team Daniel Gibbs 43.1%; seats by party - RRR 17, Team Daniel Gibbs 6

Political parties and leaders

Rally Responsibility Success (Rassemblement Responsabilite Reussite or RRR [Alain RICHARDSON]

Team Daniel Gibbs [Daniel GIBBS]

Union for Progress (Union Pour le Progres or UPP) [Louis-Constant FLEMING]; affiliated with UMP

Political pressure groups and leaders

NA

International organization participation

UPU

Flag description

the flag of France is used

National symbol(s)

brown pelican

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" 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

Economy - overview

The economy of Saint Martin centers around 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. 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 United States. Saint Martin is reported to have the highest per capita income in the Caribbean.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 212/230

$561.5 million (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$561.5 million (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 89/230

$19,300 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 1%

industry: 15%

services: 84% (2000)

Industries

tourism, light industry and manufacturing, heavy industry

Labor force 214/233

17,300 (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

85% directly or indirectly employed in tourist industry

Imports - commodities

crude petroleum, food, manufactured items

Exchange rates

euros (EUR) per US dollar -

0.89 (2015 est.)

0.75 (2014 est.)

0.76 (2013 est.)

0.78 (2012 est.)

0.72 (2011 est.)

Communications

Telephone system

general assessment: fully integrated access

domestic: direct dial capability with both fixed and wireless systems

international: country code - 590; undersea fiber-optic cable provides voice and data connectivity to Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe (2009)

Broadcast media

1 local TV station; access to about 20 radio stations, including RFO Guadeloupe radio broadcasts via repeater (2008)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 0, FM 3, shortwave 0 (2007)

Internet country code

.mf; note - .gp, the Internet country code for Guadeloupe, and .fr, the Internet country code for France, might also be encountered

Transportation

Airports 233/236

1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2013)