Saint Martin histoire-ile de st martin hier-traite concordia-arawaks

History of Saint-Martin, the multi-faceted island

Many know the island since hurricane Irma, a retrospective on the history of Saint-Martin is essential.
The Arawaks landed on the island between 800 and 300 years before our era.
The Taînos would have been the last Amerindian populations to have lived on the island around 1500, until the arrival of the Europeans, who brought with them a multitude of viruses and epidemics then unknown to the natives.

The island takes the name of Saint-Martin on November 11, 1493, Saint-Martin’s Day, which corresponds to the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the island during his second trip west…

During the 16th century, the great era of corsairs and buccaneers, Spaniards, French, Dutch, Portuguese, English, Flemish, coveted the island for its protected anchorages and its salt deposits.
This last characteristic earned it the nickname of Soualiga, Land of Salt.
It was during this same century that the last Amerindian populations were reduced to the status of slaves, deported to neighboring islands.
Then the island became too small for the conquistadors, it lost its interest for the Spaniards who deserted it little by little.

The 17th century March 23, 1648, signing of the Treaty of Mont des Accords deals with Concordia.
Between 1627 and 1631, Holland took the initiative to settle in Saint-Martin with the aim of exploiting the natural salt deposits that it needed for itself and its establishments on the North American continent.
She built a first fort there, which provoked a strong reaction from Spain.
A Spanish military occupation followed from 1638. Finally, in 1648, the Spaniards completely abandoned Saint-Martin, deemed too small (88 km²) and of limited interest.

On March 23 of the same year, the French and the Dutch settled the problem of their “national sovereignty” by signing the Treaty of Mont des Accords (or Mons Concordia), the name given to the mountain on which the agreement was concluded.

Thus, French and Dutch divide the island into two parts: the French occupy the northern part (52 km²), the Dutch, the southern part (34 km²).
The treaty recognizes both the dual nationality of the island and its unity: no physical border between the two nationalities and the movement of people and goods is completely free.
Saint-Martin thus becomes “The Friendly Island”, a qualifier that is still relevant today.
Likewise, all the provisions of 1648 have remained in force until today.

Evolution de l’économie de l’île de Saint Martin

Jusqu’aux années 1950, l’activité économique de l’île repose sur deux activités principales : l’agriculture et l’exploitation des salines. L’agriculture des premiers colons est essentiellement vivrière. Très rapidement, ils cherchent à développer des plantations à des fins commerciales : tabac, indigo, coton, canne à sucre, café et cacao.

Le développement de l’économie de l’île est marqué par 6 grands cycles :
1630 – 1674 : le cycle du tabac
1680 – 1700 : le cycle de l’indigo
Fin du XVIIe siècle aux années 1820 : le cycle du coton
Du XVIIIe siècle au début du XXe siècle : le cycle du sucre. C’est dans un contexte de véritable boom sucrier dans les Antilles que Saint-Martin développe, dès 1772, la production de canne à sucre.

En 1786, près de 1000 hectares sont exploités par 24 sucreries. Elles produisent environ 875 tonnes par an. Le déclin définitif de la canne remonte au début du 20ème siècle, avec la fermeture de la dernière sucrerie à Spring (Marigot) saint martin histoire.

De la fin XIXe aux années 1960 : le cycle du sel.
La production de sel prend la relève de celle du sucre.
Pour relancer une économie déclinante liée à la crise de l’agriculture sucrière au début du 19ème siècle, les populations se mettent à exploiter rationnellement les nombreux étangs de la zone française.
Une production déjà exploitée par les hollandais.
Il existe 3 grandes salines en partie française : Grand-Case, Quartier d’Orléans et Chevrise. L’extraction industrielle du sel dure un siècle environ. La dernière saline en exploitation, celle de Grand-Case, a fermé ses portes dans les années 60, faute de rentabilité.
From the early 1980s, the tourist economy took over, becoming the main source of income for the entire population. Successive tax exemption laws (Lois Pons, Paul, Robien Besson, Girardin) have largely contributed to this economic boom.
The tourism economy peaked in 1994, with almost 600,000 visitors registered at Juliana Airport. In 2007, more than 1,430,406 cruise passengers landed mainly in the deep-water port of Great Bay (Dutch side).

TO VISIT: The Museum of Saint Martin – 7 rue Fichot in Marigot.