There is a border that divides the island of St. Maarten into two different parts, one side owned by France and the other owned by the Netherlands. Many who visit the island of Saint Martin might not realize that it is a dually owned island in the Caribbean. This makes St. Maarten, the smallest inhabited island divided between two nations.
Table of Contents
- What is the historical perspective of the border division in St. Martin?
- What is the difference between Saint Martin and Sint Maarten?
- What is the difference between the French and Dutch sides of St. Maarten?
- Where is French Saint Martin located?
- Where is Dutch Sint Maarten located?
- What important dates and events led to the creation of the border in St. Martin?
- Are there any restrictions for traveling inside the island of St. Martin?
- Is a passport required to go to Saint Martin?
- What languages are spoken on the island of St. Martin?
- What is the best time of year to go to St. Maarten?
- Is St. Martin a U.S. Territory?
- Which government controls Saint Martin?
- Is Saint Martin safe?
- Can I travel to other islands that are close to St. Martin?
What is the historical perspective of the border division in St. Martin?
The border division in St. Maarten originates back with the early history of Sint Maarten when the island was first inhabited by Dutch and French settlers in the early 1600s. Both countries saw the profitable value of the island because of the abundant natural resources. Because they wanted to avoid war, both countries mutually decided to divide the island between their two territories with the signing of the Treaty of Concordia on March 23, 1648.
What is the difference between Saint Martin and Sint Maarten?
Saint Martin and Sint Maarten are the same names, just spelled differently according to the respective language of each side of the island. Saint Martin refers to the French side of the island while Sint Maarten refers to the Dutch side.
What is the difference between the French and Dutch sides of St. Maarten?
There are similarities and a few differences between French Saint Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten. Both sides of the island offer a delightful yet different experience based on their unique influences and development throughout history. Some of the differences between Saint Martin and Sint Maarten are listed below.
- Has a population of 38,002, which is slightly smaller than the population of Sint Maarten.
- Known for its relaxing and tranquil scenery and outstanding culinary cuisine.
- Has the majority of the beaches on the island.
- Has a slightly more European culture than Sint Maarten. The locals maintain a very liberal perspective and attitude about life.
- The currency used is the Euro.
- Has a population of 43,424, which is slightly larger than the population of French Saint Martin.
- Known for its bustling nightlife and vast array of bars, casinos, and nightclubs.
- Is more diverse than its French counterpart and has an animated spirit that reflects Caribbean culture.
- The amount of tourism each year is significantly higher on this side of the island than French Saint Martin because of all the attractions and the busy atmosphere.
- Sint Maarten is more accepting of multiple forms of currency such as the Euro, U.S. Dollar, and the Netherlands Antillean Guilder.
Where is French Saint Martin located?
French Saint Martin occupies the northern side of the island which is nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. French Saint Martin is located approximately 190 miles (300 km) east of Puerto Rico, 1,225 miles (1972 km) southeast of Miami, FL, and 720 miles (1159 km) north of Venezuela. The approximate GPS coordinates of French Saint Martin are 18.0826° N, 63.0523° W.
How big is French St. Martin?
French Saint Martin comprises about 60% of the island of St. Martin and covers an area of 21 miles (33 km). It would take an average of 40 minutes to 1 hour to drive from one end of French Saint Martin to the other and about 7 hours to walk the same distance.
Where is Dutch Sint Maarten located?
Dutch Sint Maarten is located on the southern side of the island that is between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Dutch Sint Maarten is located closer to the southeastern Lesser Antilles Islands, it’s located 17 miles (28 km) northwest of St. Barth’s, 374 miles (602 km) north of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and 597 miles (962 km) northeast of Aruba. The approximate GPS location of Dutch Sint Maarten is 52.7727° N, 4.7448° E.
How big is Dutch Saint Martin?
The Dutch side consists of 40% of the island of St. Maarten and covers 16 miles (25 km). It would take around 20 to 40 minutes to drive throughout Sint Maarten and around 5 hours to walk from one end to the other.
What important dates and events led to the creation of the border in St. Martin?
Two important events that led to the division of the island between the French and the Dutch are the Treaty of Concordia in 1648 and the Second Treaty of Paris in 1816.
To avoid war between the French and Dutch settlers, both sides mutually agreed to divide the land between them with the signing of the Treaty of Concordia in 1648.
Even with the Treaty of Concordia signed, the boundaries of each side of the island were still in dispute until the signing of the Second Treaty of Paris in 1816. With this treaty, both nations were able to come to an agreement about the official border.
Are there any restrictions for traveling inside the island of St. Martin?
No, there are no restrictions when crossing the border from Saint Martin to Sint Maarten. There is no physical border between the French side of Saint Martin and the Dutch side of Sint Maarten. People and goods can move about freely between both parts of the island.
Is a passport required to go to Saint Martin?
Yes, all travelers must have a valid passport from their country of residence to travel to Saint Martin, as well as a return ticket for departure from the island.
In addition to a passport and a return ticket, travelers arriving from countries outside of the United States, Canada, and Europe will also be required to have a visa prior to entry into the country. This visa should be obtained before departing from their country of residence by contacting the local French embassy in their country.
All travelers will be presented with an immigration card on the airplane upon arrival at Princess Juliana Airport in Dutch Sint Maarten. It is important to know the address that you will be staying at on the island to be able to present to immigration at the airport.
What languages are spoken on the island of St. Martin?
The languages spoken on the island of St. Martin are: English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Creole, and Papiamento. Of all the languages of Saint Martin, both French Saint Martin and Dutch Sint Maarten have English as their official language. However, all of the cultural influences that have occurred in Saint Martin over the years have resulted in many other languages that are currently being spoken on the island. The percentages of each spoken language spoken by the population in St. Martin are listed below.
- 67.5% English
- 12.9% Spanish
- 8.2% Creole
- 6.6% French
- 4.2% Dutch
- 1.5% Papiamento
What is the best time of year to go to St. Maarten?
The best time of year to travel to St. Maarten is between the months of January and June. St. Maarten has consistent sunny and warm weather all year round. However, traveling during these months would be better to avoid the hurricane season, which occurs from July to December.
Is St. Martin a U.S. Territory?
No, St. Martin is not a US territory. St. Martin is not considered part of the US Virgin Islands. The northern French side of the island is an overseas collectivity of France and is considered part of the French West Indies. While the southern Dutch portion of the island is a territory of the Netherlands.
Which government controls Saint Martin?
Dutch Sint Maarten is a self-governed state, within the kingdom of the Netherlands. While Sint Maarten has its own parliament and has a level of freedom from the central government in the Netherlands, it remains dependent on the Netherlands for matters like foreign policy and defense.
French Saint Martin is governed by the French government as it is part of the overseas collectivity of France. The collectivity, while remaining a part of France, has broad authority over its own fiscal and legislative affairs.
Is Saint Martin safe?
Yes, Saint Martin is generally considered a safe island to visit. As when traveling to any other tourist destination, safety precautions should be taken such as being aware of your surroundings, traveling in groups, and traveling around the island with a minimum amount of jewelry, cash, and other valuables.
The crime rate in St. Martin is low compared to other countries. One of the biggest crimes on the island is passport theft, so be sure to bring your original driver’s license with you as well as a photocopy of your passport. If you are renting a car, it may also be wise to purchase rental car insurance, as rental cars are sometimes broken into on the island. Along with purchasing insurance, be sure to not leave any valuables on the seats of the car.
Can I travel to other islands that are close to St. Martin?
Yes, it is possible to travel to the islands that are close to St. Martin. St. Martin is surrounded by many islands that are easily accessible either by plane or ferry. Some of the most popular nearby islands to visit that many tourists choose to travel to during their stay on St. Martin are St. Barts, Anguilla, Saba, Prickly Pear, Pinel Island, and Tintamarre.
When visiting any of these islands near Sint Maarten, it is important to remember to bring your passport with you to pass through the border. A visa may also be required depending on which nearby island you decide to visit but is usually not required if you have a passport from the following territories: England, The United States of America, Canada, The European Union, and Australia.