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Saint Martin: the half French and half Dutch island

The island of Saint Martin – Sint Maarten (87 sq km) has the particularity of being divided between France and the Netherlands, only the northern part belongs to France for a total of 53 sq km, while the southern part is part of the Netherlands (34 sq km).

The French part of the island of Saint Martin (Collectivité d’outre-mer de Saint Martin), is a French overseas collectivity located in the Lesser Antilles between the Virgin Islands to the west, Anguilla to the north, Saint Barthelemy to the southwest and Saba to the south. The Dutch part of the island (Sint Maarten) is part of the Netherlands Antilles.

Capital of the French part is the city of Marigot, while the capital of the Dutch part is Philipsburg. The islet of Tintamarre is also part of French territory.

The island is mountainous, the highest mountain being the Pic Paradis (424 meters), located in the French side. The main economic activity of the island is tourism, agriculture (cotton, sugar cane) and fishing are also practiced.


Saint Martin / Sint Maarten is an important tourist destination on the Caribbean Sea, both the French and the Dutch part of the island have numerous beaches, the tourist flyers indicate a total of 34.

Philipsburg, Great Bay, Saint Martin / Sint Maarten. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Philipsburg, Great Bay, Saint Martin / Sint Maarten. Author Marco Ramerini

Some beaches are very popular, in particular those of the Dutch side of the island, where large hotel complexes are often found close to the beaches. While the beaches on the French side are less intensively exploited and probably for this reason more interesting to visit.

In the Dutch side, do not miss a visit to the famous Maho Beach, the beach close to the airport’s runway, where you can see and photograph the planes that land near the beach.

In the French side the two beaches of the island of Pinel are very beautiful, reachable in ten minutes by boat from the main island, another beach to visit in the French part is that of Orient Bay (Baie Orientale). For those traveling with children, a beach with shallow water and shade is that of Le Galion. Among the beaches on the Dutch side, the Bay of Great Bay in the capital Philipsburg is full of life.

  • Area: 87 km ² (53 km ² the French side, 34 km ² the Dutch side).
  • Population: 75,000 (36,000 in the French side; 39,000 in the Dutch side) (2007).
  • State Capital: Marigot (French side), Philipsburg (Dutch side).
  • Language: In the French the official language is French. In the Dutch part the official languages are English and Dutch
  • Religion: Christian (Catholic and Protestant).
  • Currency: Euro (EUR) (French side) and U.S. Dollar (USD) (Dutch side)
  • Time: UTC -4 hours.

This post is also available in: German

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