(overseas collectivity of France)
page last updated on September 22, 2009
Flag of Saint Martin
Location of Saint Martin
Map of Saint Martin
Introduction ::Saint Martin
Although sighted by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1493 and claimed for Spain, it was the Dutch who occupied the island in 1631 and set about exploiting its salt deposits. The Spanish retook the island in 1633, but continued to be harassed by the Dutch. The Spanish finally relinquished St. Martin to the French and Dutch, who divided it amongst themselves in 1648. The cultivation of sugar cane introduced slavery to the island in the late 18th century; the practice was not abolished until 1848. The island became a free port in 1939; the tourism industry was dramatically expanded during the 1970s and 1980s. In 2003, the populace of St. Martin voted to secede from Guadeloupe and in 2007, the northern portion of the island became a French overseas collectivity.
Geography ::Saint Martin
island 300 km southeast of Puerto Rico
18 05 N, 63 57 W
total: 54.4 sq km
country comparison to the world: 230
land: 54.4 sq km
water: NEGL
more than one-third the size of Washington, DC
total: 15 km
border countries: Netherlands Antilles (Sint Maarten) 15 km
58.9 km (for entire island)
temperature averages 80-85 degrees all year long; low humidity, gentle trade winds, brief, intense rain showers; July-November is the hurricane season
lowest point: Caribbean Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pic du Paradis 424 m
fresh water supply is dependent on desalinization of sea water
the island of Saint Martin is the smallest landmass in the world shared by two independent states, the French territory of Saint Martin and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten
People ::Saint Martin
29,820 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 213
0-14 years: 27% (male 3,991/female 4,048)
15-64 years: 67.5% (male 9,596/female 10,532)
65 years and over: 5.5% (male 742/female 911) (2009 est.)
total: 30.5 years
male: 29.5 years
female: 31.3 years (2009 est.)
at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
creole (mulatto), black, Guadeloupe Mestizo (French-East Asia), white, East Indian
Roman Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Protestant, Hindu
French (official language), English, Dutch, French Patois, Spanish, Papiamento (dialect of Netherlands Antilles)
Government ::Saint Martin
conventional long form: Overseas Collectivity of Saint Martin
conventional short form: Saint Martin
local long form: Collectivity d'outre mer de Saint-Martin
local short form: Saint-Martin
overseas collectivity of France
name: Marigot
geographical coordinates: 18 04 N, 63 05 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight savings: +1 hour
none (overseas collectivity of France)
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789); note - local holiday is Schoalcher Day (Slavery Abolition Day) 12 July (1848)
4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
the laws of France, where applicable, apply
18 years of age, universal
chief of state: President Nicolas SARKOZY (since 16 May 2007), represented by Prefect Dominique LACROIX (since 21 March 2007)
head of government: President of the Territorial Council Frantz GUMBS (since 5 May 2009)
cabinet: Executive Council; note - there is also an advisory economic, social, and cultural council
election: French president elected by popular vote to a five-year term; prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of the Territorial Council is elected by the members of the Council for a five-year term
election results: Frantz GUMBS elected president by the Territorial Council on 7 August 2008 but election was declared invalid on 10 April 2009
unicameral Territorial Council (23 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 1 and 8 July 2007 (next to be held in July 2012)
election results: percent of seats by party - UPP 49%, RRR 42.2%, Reussir Saint-Martin 8.9%; seats by party - UPP 16, RRR 6, Reussir Saint-Martin 1
note: Saint Martin elects one seat to the French Senate; election last held 21 September 2008 (next to be held in September 2014); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 1
Union Pour le Progres or UPP [Louis-Constant FLEMING]; Rassemblement Responsabilite Reussite or RRR [Alain RICHARDSON]; Reussir Saint-Martin [Jean-Luc HAMLET]
none (overseas collectivity of France)
none (overseas collectivity of France)
the flag of France is used
Economy ::Saint Martin
The economy of Saint Martin centers around tourism with 85% of the labor force engaged in this sector. Over one million visitors come to the island each year with most arriving through the Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten. No significant agriculture and limited local fishing means that almost all food must be imported. Energy resources and manufactured goods are also imported, primarily from Mexico and the United States. Saint Martin is reported to have the highest per capita income in the Caribbean.
agriculture: 1%
industry: 15%
services: 84% (2000)
85% directly or indirectly employed in tourist industry
tourism, light industry and manufacturing, heavy industry
crude petroleum, food, manufactured items
euros (EUR) per US dollar - 0.6827 (2008), 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004)
Communications ::Saint Martin
general assessment: fully integrated access
domestic: direct dial capability with both fixed and wireless systems
international: country code - 590; undersea fiber-optic cable provides voice and data connectivity to Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe
AM 0, FM 3, shortwave 0 (2007)
.mf; note - .gp, the internet country code for Guadeloupe, and .fr, the internet country code for France, might also be encountered
Transportation ::Saint Martin
1 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 226
total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2009)
nearest airport for international flights is Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) located in Sint Maarten
Military ::Saint Martin
males age 16-49: 6,336
females age 16-49: 6,925 (2009 est.)
male: 177
female: 162 (2009 est.)
defense is the responsibility of France