St. Maarten/St. Martin: One island, Two countries.
Located 18N, 63W and 144 miles southeast of Puerto Rico this dual nationality island is unique in the world.
Just 37 square miles this tropical isle offers the best of two worlds: French and Dutch.
Set amid azure blue waters, St. Maarten/St. Martin has a vigorous economy and is perhaps the finest Freeport in all of the Caribbean. Yet it is two separate states, flying two flags, speaking at least four languages and using three different currencies.
Discovered in 1493 by Christopher Columbus and claimed by Spain, it wasn't until the 17th century boom of the West Indies trade that St. Maarten/St. Martin was settled. The Dutch wanted the island and eventually pushed out Spain only to discover a French settlement established. Legend has it that a Frenchman and Dutchman, both intoxicated, settled the land dispute by meeting in the center of the island and walking in opposite directions until they marked off their country's territory. Today there are no border controls thanks to the Treaty of Concordia which was signed in 1648 and which allows both countries to remain peaceful neighbors.
The Northern part of the island, St. Martin, is French territory and is referred to as the ‘French side', whereas the southern half, St. Maarten, is part of the Netherlands Antilles and is referred to as the ‘Dutch side'.
The island has long been known as a popular vacation destination and in recent years has also been recognized as the Yachting Capital of the Caribbean. The island's marine sector has been growing steadily over the years beginning with a small regatta (the Heineken Regatta) that has become one of the top ten in the world and now a Charter Yacht Show (MYBA St. Maarten Charter Show) that is growing more in popularity.
As a completely duty free port, St. Maarten serves as a center of trade for neighboring islands. Visiting yachts appreciate the excellent air and sea freight links from Europe and the U.S.A., and the absence of delays that are typically experienced where border tariffs must be collected or waived.
Language: Dutch (official), English
Currency: Netherlands Antilles Guilder, US$ accepted everywhere
Electricity: 110 volts (60Hz)
Language: French (official), English
Currency: The Euro, US$ accepted everywhere
Electricity: 220 voltz
GMT - 4 hours.
Atlantic time, 1 hour ahead of Eastern
Standard Time. Same as daylight saving time during the summer.