Each and every visit to the Caribbean is like no other. There is always something new to learn, places to go or things to do. Sculpted by nature, the islands are ever-changing and evolving. With so many islands to choose from it is never easy to decide on where to stop.
We want to introduce you to our beautifully unique islands. Make sure you stay a while, take your time! In the Caribbean there’s no rush, let’s just ‘go with the flow’.
The more you learn, the more you will want to know, so relax and discover
St. Martin is a part of the French overseas department of Guadeloupe, and therefore flies the flag of France.
The first flag depicted is the unofficial flag of St. Martin
The second flag is the ‘Unity Flag’ which is used in both the French and Dutch parts of the island. It represents the people, land, and culture of the entire island, North and South.
The coat of arms of Saint Martin is the official coat of the Collectivity of Saint Martin. It features palm leaves in front of a sun to symbolize the tropical climate, a pelican symbolizing the fauna of the island, a hibiscus symbolizing the flora, a ship symbolizing the tourism-related boating and the words “Collectivité de Saint Martin” on the top.
The French national anthem is the official anthem of St. Martin,
The entire island both the dutch and French parts use “O Sweet Saint Martin’s Land” as a local anthem.
O Sweet Martins Land Lyrics:
1. Where over the world, say where,
You find an island there,
So lovely small with nations free
With people French and Dutch
Though talking English much,
As thee Saint Martin in the sea?
O sweet Saint Martin’s Land
So bright by beach and strand
With sailors on the sea and harbors free
Where the chains of mountains green
Variously in sunshine sheen
Oh I love thy Paradise,
Nature beauty fairly nice
Oh I love thy Paradise,
Nature beauty fairly nice
2. How pretty between all green
Flamboyants beaming gleam
Of flowers red by sunlight set
Thy cows and sheep and goats
In meadows or on the roads
Thy donkeys keen I can’t forget
3. Thy useful birds in white
Their morn and evening flight
Like aircrafts-wings in unity
Their coming down for food
Then turning back to roost
Bring home to me their harmony
4. Saint Martin I like thy name
In which Columbus fame
And memories of old are closed
For me a great delight
Thy Southern Cross the night
May God the Lord protect thy coast!
PRESIDENT OF TERRITORIAL COUNCIL
TOOK OFFICE: 15/07/2007 – LEFT OFFICE: 25/07/2008
TOOK OFFICE: 07/08/2008 – LEFT OFFICE: 14/04/2009
TOOK OFFICE: 14/04/2009 – INCUMBENT
Pic Paradis (paradise peak) is the highest point in St Martin, standing at 424metres high. It is the starting point for many walks and is a nature lover’s dream! As you begin to climb Pic Paradis, you will pass Loterie Farm, a former sugar plantation that was constructed in 1773. Now Loterie Farm is a private nature reserve and sanctuary, with gorgeous surroundings. One of the big attractions here is the Flyzone, a ziplining experience like no other. Carry on further up the mountain, as you reach the summit you will be presented with stunning views of the entire island and also neighbouring islands.
Built in 1789, overlooking Marigot Bay, St Martin and the beautiful island of Anguilla. It is the largest historical monument and was constructed under the order of Jean Sebastien de Durat who was the governor of St. Martin and St. Barths at the time. The fort provided one of the best views across the bay and beyond and was built to defend its surroundings. Having been restored and renovated a few times, the fort offers unrestricted views of Marigot, Simpson Bay Lagoon, Anguilla and many other areas. Bi-lingual explanatory panels can also be found scattered about the fort with important historical information.
Marigot is located on the west coast of St. Martin and is the centre of activity. It is guarded by Fort Louis, one of our other ‘Must Stops’. Marigot Market is a bustling open-air market open every Wednesday and Saturday. The bustling market is a true melting pot of colours, smells and local flavours. Local meats and fresh fish caught that day are sold under an array of open Creole huts along the water front. The market also contains stalls selling fruit, vegetables and spices. In addition to this, there are around a hundred craft stands manned by locals and foreigners. A commemorative statue in honour female market seller was erected opposite the traditional restaurants (lolos) adjoining the local market. As well as this, a beautiful fresco, was painted by a local artist on a wall opposite the market in 2006. It was also created to commemorate female market sellers.
Located on the north-eastern coast of the island, the nature reserve comprises of 8,800 acres on land and sea. It is home to a huge variety of seabirds, sea turtles and land animals such as mongoose and iguanas. As well as the amazing wildlife, the reserve contains beautiful beaches and staggering cliffs. Humpback whales can be spotted offshore between the months of February and June. Visitors can participate in diving and also hike through the park.
The Amerindian people, descended from the Arawak Indians who came to St. Martin/ St. Maarten around 800 AD. They used to call the island ‘Sualouiga’ or ‘Land of Salt’ as salt ponds were scattered all over the island. The Spaniards were the first Europeans to exploit these salt ponds, but it was the Dutch that started the wide-scale exploitation. They used salt to preserve meat and the tons of fish they netted in the Baltic Sea. With the break from Spain in the 16th century the Dutch lost access to Portugal’s natural salt deposits and were in dire need of a new source. They cast their eyes on St. Martin/St. Maarten with its numerous salt ponds and a new and important trade developed.
At the time that the Dutch finally established a settlement in St. Martin/St. Maarten in 1631, there was already a colony of 14 French families based on the island. In 1633 the Spaniards invaded St. Martin/St. Maarten and the attempts of the French and Dutch to protect their settlements were futile, so they retreated until the Spanish troops left the island in 1648. On March 23rd 1648, The French and Dutch signed the “Treaty of Concordia”. The island has been divided, and the story of how it happened has been embellished throughout history to become the ‘Legend of St. Martin/St. Maarten’. Even after the signing of the treaty however, the island changed hand 16 times with even English powers vying for control. In 1817 the partition treaty was eventually enforced, giving the French 21 square miles and the Dutch 16 square miles and giving shape to the island as we know it today.
The slave trade first made its mark on St. Martin/St. Maarten in 1648 with the development of sugar plantations and was to last 220 years until its abolition in 1848. With the abolition of slavery, the plantations on St. Martin/St. Maarten dried out leaving virtually no sugar industry. The island was now wholly dependent on its salt treasure. The ‘white gold’ was produced in great quantities and St. Martin/St. Maarten became a king in the world of salt production. In 1850 more then 330,000 barrels were produced and a third of the island’s population was employed in the industry. After the 1920’s the salt industry endured a period of stagnation and decline until in 1949 the salt ponds eventually breathed their last.
With the closing down of the plantations and the slowing down of the salt production many unemployed migrated to other islands in hope of a better life. In 1914 there were still 3000 living souls on St. Martin/St. Maarten, but by the 1940’s the population was down to 2000. The imposed isolation by the two world wars also helped along the decline. World War II had the greatest effect on St. Martin. During this war, German submarines threatened the entire Caribbean. The US Army tried to eliminate these U-boats from the air and was forced to build many air runways on numerous islands, which is how St. Martin/St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana airport began its life in 1943. With the airport, a gateway was opened to the rest of the world and the new industry of tourism nestled on the island.
The duty-free status, a result of the import and export taxes being rescinded in 1939, and the many unspoiled white sandy beaches, made St. Martin/St. Maarten a popular travel destination. The influx of people and money changed the island completely. Not only did St. Martin/St. Maarten go through huge economic growth; in 1965 the population jumped to more than 4000 inhabitants. In five years the population had doubled and by the mid-80’s 40,000 people were living on the island.
The laid-back island attitude of old has now made place for a patchwork of more than 100 hotels and guest-houses and innumerable luxury villa’s and apartments. The island welcomes almost 900 000 cruise ship visitors and more than 570,000 plane arrivals a year. In less than a decade the little pearl of the Caribbean has become one of the most affluent in the region.
We cannot go through St. Martin/St. Maarten’s history without mentioning the most significant recent events that left a deep impact on the island. In 1995 the powerful and destructive hurricane Luis struck the islands with huge devastation. It took four years for the island to recover but in 1999 hurricane Lenny was destined to pass over the island to wreak more havoc. Despite serious damage inflicted by rain and flood, the people of St. Martin/St. Maarten know how laughter can heal the soul, and that is one of the reasons visitors keep coming to the island, the prime tropical escape of the Caribbean.
Information courtesy of st-maarten.com