Sint Maarten

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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 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.

Geography

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

Area 236/257

total: 34 sq km

land: 34 sq km

water: 0 sq km

note: Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin

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 fishing zone: 12 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:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

highest point: Mount Flagstaff 386 m

Natural resources

fish, salt

Irrigated land

NA

Natural hazards

subject to hurricanes from July to November

Environment - current issues

NA

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

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.)

Population 213/238

37,132 (2014 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 19.7% (male 3,986/female 3,704)

15-24 years: 16.3% (male 3,130/female 3,253)

25-54 years: 45.3% (male 8,626/female 9,077)

55-64 years: 12.9% (male 2,448/female 2,596)

65 years and over: 5.8% (male 1,087/female 1,181) (2013 est.)

Median age

total: 40.4 years

male: 39.6 years

female: 41.3 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 80/233

1.51% (2013 est.)

Birth rate 153/224

13 births/1,000 population (2013 est.)

Death rate 202/225

4.51 deaths/1,000 population (2013 est.)

Net migration rate 18/222

6.63 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2013 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 100% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 1.97% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

PHILIPSBURG (capital) 1,327 (2011)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.08 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.96 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female

total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2013 est.)

Infant mortality rate 144/224

total: 9.05 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 9.84 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 8.22 deaths/1,000 live births (2013 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 67/224

total population: 77.61 years

male: 75.34 years

female: 79.99 years (2013 est.)

Total fertility rate 108/224

2.09 children born/woman (2013 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

NA

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths

NA

Government

Country name

Dutch long form: Land Sint Maarten

Dutch short form: Sint Maarten

English long form: Country of Sint Maarten

English short form: Sint Maarten

former: Netherlands Antilles; Curacao and Dependencies

Government type

parliamentary

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)

Independence

none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

National holiday

King's Day (birthday of King WILLEM-ALEXANDER), 27 April (1967)

Constitution

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 within the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Legal system

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

Citizenship

see the Netherlands

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Queen BEATRIX of the Netherlands (since 30 April 1980); represented by Governor General Eugene HOLIDAY (since 10 October 2010)

head of government: William MARLIN (since 19 November 2015)

cabinet: Cabinet

elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch for a six-year term; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is usually elected prime minister by the legislature

Legislative branch

description: unicameral parliament or Staten (15 seats; members directly elected by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held 17 September 2010 (next to be held in 2014)

election results: percent of vote by party - National Alliance 45.9%, UPP 36.1%, Democratic Party 17.1%, other .9%; seats by party - National Alliance 7, UPP 6, Democratic Party 2

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Joint Court of Justice of Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, and of Bonaire, Sint Eustatitus, 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

Concordia Political Alliance or CPA [Jeffery RICHARDSON]

Democratic Party or DP [Sarah WESCOTT-WILLIAMS]

National Alliance or NA [William MARLIN]

United People's Party or UPP [Theodore HEYLIGER]

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

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) 215/230

$365.8 million (2014 est.)

$353.5 million (2013 est.)

$339.6 million (2012 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)

$304.1 billion (2014 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 70/225

3.6% (2014 est.)

4.1% (2013 est.)

1.9% (2012 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 13/230

$66,800 (2014 est.)

$65,500 (2013 est.)

$63,900 (2012 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.4%

industry: 18.3%

services: 81.3% (2008 est.)

Agriculture - products

sugar

Industries

tourism, light industry

Labor force 210/233

23,200 (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 1.1%

industry: 15.2%

services: 83.7% (2008 est.)

Unemployment rate 131/207

12% (2012 est.)

10.6% (2008 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 151/226

4% (2012 est.)

0.7% (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities

sugar

Exchange rates

Netherlands Antillean guilders (ANG) per US dollar -

1.79 (2014)

1.79 (2013)

1.79 (2013)

1.79 (2012)

1.79 (2011)

Energy

Electricity - production 178/220

304.3 million kWh (2008 est.)

Communications

Telephone system

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 and the Caribbean, and the US; 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

Internet hosts

NA

Internet users

NA

Transportation

Airports 234/236

1 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 1

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2012)

Roadways 219/223

total: 53 km

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Philipsburg

oil terminals: Coles Bay oil terminal

Military and Security

Military branches

no regular military forces (2012)