Saint Martin

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON DECEMBER 5, 2011
Flag of Saint Martin
(CONTAINS DESCRIPTION)
Location of Saint Martin
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Map of Saint Martin
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Photos of Saint Martin
 
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OF SAINT MARTIN
 

Introduction

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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 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 Dutch portion of the island became an independent nation within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
 
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Geography

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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
 
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18 05 N, 63 57 W
 
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total: 54.4 sq km
country comparison to the world: 231
land: 54.4 sq km
water: NEGL
 
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more than one-third the size of Washington, DC
 
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total: 15 km
border countries: Sint Maarten 15 km
 
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58.9 km (for entire island)
 
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temperature averages 80-85 degrees all year long; low humidity, gentle trade winds, brief, intense rain showers; July-November is the hurricane season
 
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lowest point: Caribbean Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pic du Paradis 424 m
 
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salt
 
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subject to hurricanes from July to November
 
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freshwater supply is dependent on desalinization of sea water
 
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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
 
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People and Society

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creole (mulatto), black, Guadeloupe Mestizo (French-East Asia), white, East Indian
 
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French (official), English, Dutch, French Patois, Spanish, Papiamento (dialect of Netherlands Antilles)
 
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Roman Catholic, Jehovah's Witnesses, Protestant, Hindu
 
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30,615 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 215
 
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0-14 years: 26.9% (male 4,086/female 4,139)
15-64 years: 67.1% (male 9,807/female 10,737)
65 years and over: 6% (male 829/female 1,017) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 31 years
male: 29.9 years
female: 31.8 years (2011 est.)
 
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at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Overseas Collectivity of Saint Martin
conventional short form: Saint Martin
local long form: Collectivity d'outre mer de Saint-Martin
local short form: Saint-Martin
 
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overseas collectivity of France
 
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name: Marigot
geographical coordinates: 18 04 N, 63 05 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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none (overseas collectivity of France)
 
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Bastille Day, 14 July (1789); note - local holiday is Schoalcher Day (Slavery Abolition Day) 12 July (1848)
 
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4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
 
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French civil law
 
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18 years of age, universal
 
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chief of state: President Nicolas SARKOZY (since 16 May 2007), represented by Prefect Philippe CHOPIN (since 16 November 2011)
head of government: President of the Territorial Council Frantz GUMBS (since 5 May 2009)
cabinet: Executive Council; note - there is also an advisory economic, social, and cultural council
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election: French president elected by popular vote to a five-year term; prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of the Territorial Council elected by the members of the Council for a five-year term
election results: Frantz GUMBS elected president by the Territorial Council on 7 August 2008 but election was declared invalid on 10 April 2009
 
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unicameral Territorial Council (23 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held on 1 and 8 July 2007 (next to be held in July 2012)
election results: percent of seats by party - UPP 49%, RRR 42.2%, Reussir Saint-Martin 8.9%; seats by party - UPP 16, RRR 6, Reussir Saint-Martin 1
note: Saint Martin elects one member to the French Senate; election last held on 21 September 2008 (next to be held in September 2014); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 1
 
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Union Pour le Progres or UPP [Louis-Constant FLEMING]; Rassemblement Responsabilite Reussite or RRR [Alain RICHARDSON]; Reussir Saint-Martin [Jean-Luc HAMLET]
 
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NA
 
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UPU
 
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none (overseas collectivity of France)
 
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none (overseas collectivity of France)
 
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the flag of France is used
 
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brown pelican
 
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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)
 
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Economy

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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.
 
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agriculture: 1%
industry: 15%
services: 84% (2000)
 
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85% directly or indirectly employed in tourist industry
 
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tourism, light industry and manufacturing, heavy industry
 
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crude petroleum, food, manufactured items
 
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euros (EUR) per US dollar -
0.7715 (2010)
0.7338 (2009)
0.6827 (2008)
0.7345 (2007)
0.7964 (2006)
 
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Communications

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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
 
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1 local TV station; receives television broadcasts from the Netherlands Antilles; access to about 20 radio stations, including RFO Guadeloupe radio broadcasts via repeater (2008)
 
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.mf; note - .gp, the Internet country code for Guadeloupe, and .fr, the Internet country code for France, might also be encountered
 
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Transportation

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1 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 236
 
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total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2010)
 
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nearest airport for international flights is Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) located in Sint Maarten
 
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Military

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males age 16-49: 6,435
females age 16-49: 6,967 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 168
female: 168 (2010 est.)
 
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defense is the responsibility of France
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