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.
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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.
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.
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.
French Saint Martin occupies the northern side of an island nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. French Saint Martin is located approximately 300 km (190 mi) east of Puerto Rico, 1972 km (1972 mi) southeast of Miami, FL, and 1159 km (720. mi) north of Venezuela. The approximate GPS coordinates are 18.0826° N, 63.0523° W.
French Saint Martin comprises about 60% of the island and covers an area of 33 km (21mi). It would take about 30 minutes to drive from one end of French Saint Martin to the other and about 7 hours to walk the same distance.
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 28 km (17 mi) northwest of St. Barth’s, 602km (374 mi) north of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and 962km (597 mi) northeast of Aruba. The approximate GPS location is 52.7727° N, 4.7448° E.
The Dutch side consists of 40% of the island and covers 25 km (16 mi). It would take around 20 minutes to drive throughout Sint Maarten and around 5 hours to walk from one end to the other.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The best time of year to travel to St. Maarten is between the months of January and June. St. Maarten has consistent sunny weather all year round. However, traveling during these months would be better to avoid the hurricane season, which occurs from July to December.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.