Motto: “Semper progrediens”(Latin), “Always progressing”
Capital City: Philipsburg
Population: 37,132 (2014)
Languages spoken: Dutch and English
Religion: Protestant, with Roman Catholic and Jewish minorities
Head of state: King Willem-Alexander since 2013, represented locally by Governor Eugene Holiday since 2010.
Government: Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Currency: Netherlands Antillean guilder
National Dish: Johnny cakes can be eaten either hot or cold, with butter, jam, syrup, or honey. Legend has it that the Johnny cake was prepared by women before their husbands set off for work in the morning. Now Johnny cakes are served at breakfast or brunch, or as a complement to an entrée.
Brief history of the Island:
Prior to the European invasion in the 15th century the island was inhabited for a thousand years beforehand by the Arawak and Carib’s. Christoper Columbus found the island in the 15th century, the first European settlers were French and Dutch. There was then fighting between the Spanish and Dutch over this land but when the Spanish retreated the Dutch and French remained. In 1648 it was agreed that St Martin would be split into two, with the northern side owned by the French and the southern side owned by the Dutch. In this agreement it was decided that there wouldn’t be a physical border and people and goods would be free to move between the northern France and the southern Dutch side.
With the abolition of slavery many people left for neighbouring islands due to oil refinery on Aruba and Curacao. With the start of the Second World War, St Martin was thrusted back into the limelight, as it created a blockade against the Allies. After the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010, St Maarten and Curaçao were granted autonomy as ‘constituent countries’ in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Culture: The culture of St. Martin is a blend of its African, French, British, and Dutch heritage. The cuisine on St. Martin is a collaboration of tastes from Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa, and showcases the diversity of the island’s people. In both French and Dutch St. Martin, the cuisine reflects the island’s blended culture.
Facts about the Island:
- St Maarten is also popular with sailing enthusiasts and divers. One of the most popular dive sites is the wreck of HMS Proselyte, a British man-of-war which sank in 1801.
- St Maarten and Curaçao were granted autonomy as part of the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010, making the islands ‘constituent countries’ in the Kingdom of the Netherlands
- no passports are required to go into the neighbouring French St Martin
- lantana camara, the orange-yellow sage is the national flower, while the pelecanus occidentalis, , the brown pelican is the national bird
- Maho Beach is one of the world’s best plane-spotting locations, with thousands of brave holidaymakers flocking there every day to stand directly under the flight path as passenger jets buzz overhead.
Picture of the Island: