Sint Maarten Explained

Conventional Long Name:Sint Maarten
Common Name:Sint Maarten
National Motto:Semper progrediens (Latin)
(Always progressing)
National Anthem:O Sweet Saint Martin's Land
Official Languages:Dutch, English
Capital:Philipsburg
Latns:N
Latd:18
Latm:01
Longew:W
Longd:63
Longm:03
Largest City:Lower Prince's Quarter
Government Type:Constitutional monarchy
Leader Title1:Monarch
Leader Name1:Queen Beatrix
Leader Title2:Governor
Leader Name2:Eugene Holiday
Leader Title3:Prime Minister
Leader Name3:Sarah Wescot-Williams
Legislature:Estates of Sint Maarten
Area Rank:_
Area Magnitude:1 E7
Area Km2:34
Area Sq Mi:13.1
Percent Water:Negligible
Population Estimate:37,429
Population Estimate Rank:_
Population Estimate Year:2010
Population Census:30,594
Population Census Year:2001
Population Density Km2:1100
Population Density Sq Mi:?
Population Density Rank:_
Gdp Ppp:$ 400 million
Gdp Ppp Rank:_
Gdp Ppp Year:2003
Gdp Ppp Per Capita:$ 11,400 (2003 est.)
Gdp Ppp Per Capita Rank:_
Sovereignty Type:Autonomy
Sovereignty Note:within the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Established Event1:Date
Established Date1:10 October 2010
Hdi:n/a
Hdi Rank:n/a
Hdi Year:2003
Hdi Category:unranked
Currency:Netherlands Antillean guilder
Currency Code:ANG
Utc Offset:-4
Drives On:right
Cctld:.an to be phased out; .sx assigned but not yet in use
Calling Code:+1 721[1]

Sint Maarten is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It encompasses the southern half of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, while the northern half of the island constitutes the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Martin. Its capital is Philipsburg.

Before 10 October 2010, Sint Maarten was known as the Island Territory of Sint Maarten (Dutch; Flemish: Eilandgebied Sint Maarten), and was one of five island territories (Eilandgebieden) that constituted the Netherlands Antilles.

History

See also: History of Saint Martin.

In 1493, during Christopher Columbus' second voyages to the West Indies, upon first sighting the island he named it Isla de San Martín after Saint Martin of Tours because it was 11 November, St. Martin Day. However, though he claimed it as a Spanish territory, Columbus never landed there, and Spain made the settlement of the island a low priority.

The French and Dutch, on the other hand, both coveted the island. While the French wanted to colonize the islands between Trinidad and Bermuda, the Dutch found San Martín a convenient halfway point between their colonies in New Amsterdam (present day New York) and Brazil. With few people inhabiting the island, the Dutch easily founded a settlement there in 1631, erecting Fort Amsterdam as protection from invaders. Jan Claeszen Van Campen became its first governor, and soon thereafter the Dutch East India Company began their salt mining operations. French and British settlements sprang up on the island as well. Taking note of these successful colonies and wanting to maintain their control of the salt trade, the Spanish now found St. Martin much more appealing. The Eighty Years' War which had been raging between Spain and the Netherlands provided further incentive to attack.

Spanish forces captured Saint Martin from the Dutch in 1633, seizing control and driving most or all of the colonists off the island. At Point Blanche, they built what is now Old Spanish Fort to secure the territory. Although the Dutch retaliated in several attempts to win back St. Martin, they failed. Fifteen years after the Spanish conquered the island, the Eighty Years' War ended. Since they no longer needed a base in the Caribbean and St. Martin barely turned a profit, the Spanish lost their inclination to continue defending it. In 1648, they deserted the island.

With St. Martin free again, both the Dutch and the French jumped at the chance to re-establish their settlements. Dutch colonists came from St. Eustatius, while the French came from St. Kitts. After some initial conflict, both sides realized that neither would yield easily. Preferring to avoid an all-out war, they signed the Treaty of Concordia in 1648, which divided the island in two. During the treaty's negotiation, the French had a fleet of naval ships off shore, which they used as a threat to bargain more land for themselves. In spite of the treaty, relations between the two sides were not always cordial. Between 1648 and 1816, conflicts changed the border sixteen times. In the end, the French came out ahead with 21sqmi to the 16sqmi of the Dutch side.

Although the Spanish had been the first to import slaves to the island, their numbers had been few. But with the new cultivation of cotton, tobacco, and sugar, mass numbers of slaves were imported to work on the plantations. The slave population quickly grew larger than that of the land owners. Subjected to cruel treatment, slaves staged rebellions, and their overwhelming numbers made them impossible to ignore. On 12 July 1848, the French abolished slavery on their side of St. Martin. The Dutch followed suit fifteen years later.

20th century

After abolition of slavery, plantation culture declined and the island's economy suffered. In 1939, St. Martin received a major boost when it was declared a duty-free port. The Dutch side began focusing on tourism in the 1950s, with the French side following suit two decades later. Because of being split up into a Dutch and a French part, the tourist boom was heavier on Sint Maarten than on the surrounding islands. Its Princess Juliana International Airport became one of the busiest in the Eastern Caribbean. For much of this period, Sint Maarten was governed by business tycoon Claude Wathey of the Democratic Party.[2]

The island's demographics changed dramatically during this period as well. The island's population increased from a mere 5,000 people to around 80,000 people in the mid-1990s. Immigration from the neighbouring Lesser Antilles, Curaçao, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the United States, Europe, and Asia turned the native population into a minority.[3]

Sint Maarten became an "island territory" (eilandgebied in Dutch) of the Netherlands Antilles in 1983. Before that date, Saint Martin was part of the island territory of the Windward Islands, together with Saba and Sint Eustatius. The status of an island territory entails considerable autonomy summed up in the Island Regulation of the Netherlands Antilles. The island territory of Sint Maarten was ruled by an island council, an executive council, and an administrator (Dutch; Flemish: gezaghebber) appointed by the Dutch Crown.

On 5 September 1995, Hurricane Luis severely pounded the islands causing extensive damage 35 years to the day after Hurricane Donna.

21st century

In 1994, the Kingdom of the Netherlands and France signed the Franco-Dutch treaty on Saint Martin border controls, which allows for joint Franco-Dutch border controls on so-called "risk flights". After some delay, the treaty was ratified in November 2006 in the Netherlands, and subsequently entered into force on 1 August 2007. Though the treaty is now in force, its provisions are not yet implemented as the working group specified in the treaty is not yet installed.

On 10 October 2010, Sint Maarten became a constituent country (Dutch; Flemish: Land Sint Maarten) within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, making it a constitutional equal partner with Aruba, Curaçao, and the Netherlands proper. Sint Maarten has been assigned the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code of SX,[4] but the .sx Internet ccTLD is not yet in use.

Government and politics

See main article: Politics of Sint Maarten. The Constitution of Sint Maarten was unanimously adopted by the island council of Sint Maarten on 21 July 2010. Elections for a new island council were held on 17 September 2010, since the number of seats was increased from 11 to 15. The newly elected island council became the Estates of Sint Maarten on 10 October.[5]

Eugene Holiday was appointed as the first Governor of Sint Maarten (Dutch; Flemish: gouverneur) by the Council of Ministers of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in September 2010. He also assumed office on 10 October 2010.

Corruption

In 1978, the government of the Netherlands Antilles installed a Research Committee on the Windward Islands (Dutch; Flemish: Commissie van Onderzoek Bovenwindse Eilanden) to investigate claims of corruption in the island government. Even though the report issued by this commission was damaging for the island's government, measures were not put into place to curb corruption, arguably because the government of the Netherlands Antilles depended on the support of Wathey's Democratic Party in the Estates of the Netherlands Antilles. In August 1990, the public prosecutor of the Netherlands Antilles started an investigation into the alleged ties between the island government of Sint Maarten and the Sicilian Mafia, and in 1991 the Court of Audit of the Netherlands Antilles issued a report which concluded that the island government of Sint Maarten was ailing.[6]

In the government and parliament of the Netherlands, the call for measures became louder and louder. With Dutch pressure, the government of the Netherlands Antilles installed the Pourier Commission tasked with investigating the state of affairs of the island government of Sint Maarten in December 1991. Its report concluded that the island was in a severe financial crisis, that rules of democratic decision-making were continuously broken, and that the island government constituted an oligarchy. In short, the island government failed completely according to the report. After long negotiations, the Kingdom government enacted an Order-in-Council for the Kingdom (Dutch; Flemish: Algemene Maatregel van Rijksbestuur) in early 1993, placing Sint Maarten under direct supervision by the Kingdom. Although originally meant for one year, the Order-in-Council for the Kingdom was eventually extended until 1 March 1996.[7]

Though much has changed since, allegations of criminal activities continue to plague Sint Maarten. In 2004, the Minister of Justice of the Netherlands Antilles asked the Scientific Research and Documentation Centre (Dutch; Flemish: Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek- en Documentatiecentrum (WODC)) of the Dutch Ministry of Justice to conduct research into organized crime in Sint Maarten. The report concluded that money laundering and cocaine trade are widespread on Sint Maarten. It also alleged that money from the island was used to finance terrorist networks Hamas, its associate Holy Land Foundation, and the Taliban.[2] [8]

In April 2009, former Commissioner Louie Laveist was convicted, and sentenced to an 18-month prison sentence, by the Sint Maarten Court-of-First-Instance, on account of forgery, fraud, and bribery.[9] He was later acquitted of forgery and of fraud by the Common Court of Justice of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba, but not of bribery.[10]

Geography

Settlements

Demographics

In the 2001 Netherlands Antilles census, the population of the Eilandgebied was 30,594.[11] The official estimate of the population as of 1 January 2010 was 37,429 for a population density of 1,100 inhabitants per km².

Culture

See also: Culture of Saint Martin. The official languages are Dutch and English.[12] A local English-based creole dialect is also spoken. An annual regatta is also held on around March.

Education

Economy

Windward Islands Airways has its headquarters on the grounds of Princess Juliana Airport in Sint Maarten.[13]

See also

References

External links

Organizations
Universities
Secondary Education
Tourism
News and Opinion

Notes and References

  1. Sint Maarten joined the North American Numbering Plan on 30 September 2011; it previously shared the country code +599 with Curaçao and the Caribbean Netherlands.Web site: PL-423: Updated Information - Introduction of NPA 721 (Sint Maarten). North American Numbering Plan Administration. 2011-07-27. 2011-07-29.
  2. NRC.nl - Sint Maarten bloeit, politici leven in luxe
  3. Oostindie 1998:126-127
  4. Web site: ISO 3166-1 decoding table. International Organization for Standardization. 2010-12-16.
  5. RNW.nl - Eilandsraad Sint Maarten unaniem achter staatsregeling
  6. Oostindie and Klinkers 2001:188-189
  7. Oostindie and Klinkers 2001:189-191
  8. NRC.nl - Sint Maarten vrijhaven voor criminele gelden
  9. NRC.nl - Gedeputeerde Sint Maarten veroordeeld voor corruptie
  10. The Daily Herald - Louie Laveist partially vindicated on appeal
  11. Web site: Population and Housing Census 2001. Cbs.an. 2010-10-10.
  12. According to Art. 1 para 2. Constitution of Sint Maarten: "The official languages are Dutch and English"
  13. "Directory: World Airlines." Flight International. 30 March–5 April 2004. 96.