A fact so charming, it always has to be mentioned first: The island of Sint Maarten-Saint Martin is the smallest land mass in the world to be shared by two different nations. Only 37 square miles are governed by France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands (where Dutch Sint Maarten is an independent country within the Kingdom).
SINT MAARTEN – SAINT MARTIN provides vacationers the opportunity to enjoy three distinct cultures on our tiny dot in the Caribbean sea. There is the delightfulness and soberness of the Dutch on one side, the savoir-faire of the French on the other, and the blending of both with exotic native heritage.
Add dozens of beaches and lagoons, a mountain range, luxury hotels, elegant villas, and over 300 restaurants, you’ll understand why St. Martin is the most visited of all the Leewards. All the great chefs, European, American, or Asian vie to compete in this gourmet capital of the Caribbean, creating cuisines equal to the best of Paris or New York. Shopping on the island is duty free and casinos, discos and night clubs stay open till dawn. Jumbo jets from world centers land here and charters allow visits to the smaller Leewards. There is something to satisfy every taste on St.Martin …
The French territory covers about two thirds of the island and is technically a part of Europe and the European Community. The Dutch side is an independent country since Oct. 10th, 2010 – still part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but not considered European territory. There is no real border, just modest monuments and signs. The island is known as an almost perfect holiday environment; beaches and nightlife are spectacular, shopping and dining the best in the Caribbean.
To get an idea of the area covered by St. Martin, just imagine that it only covers 14.8 km (9.2 miles) from West to East and 13.2 km (8.2 miles) from North to South! But not to worry, this is the biggest small island in the world. Without visiting, its impossible to imagine the variety of landscape, cultures and entertainment to be found here. St. Martin just doesn’t FEEL that small… Its central mountain range provides for a rugged and interesting terrain, with winding roads up and down the hills, through small villages and still plenty of untouched land.
The Caribbean’s largest lagoon is the Simpson Bay Lagoon, landlocked with the exception of two narrow channels with draw bridges. The Lagoon is large enough to have a real sail and is home to a giant fleet of yachts, which are either berthed in one of the luxury marinas or anchored in the sheltered waters. St. Maarten has become the yachting center of the Caribbean, home port to some of the world’s most outrageous mega-yachts.
St. Martin is the ultimate micro cosmos, home to residents from over 90 different nations. The island broke out of the Antillean group of third-world economies and societies and became the exiting, active, bustling economic center of the Northeastern Caribbean. To be sure, there are problems associated with its rapid growth, but there are also stunning success stories to be told.
One is the Concordia Agreement: The Dutch and the French side agreed more than 350 years ago that residents of either side of the island can be commercially active on the other side without any Red Tape or border difficulties. This contract of peaceful coexistence turns out to be the oldest active, undisputed treaty on our planet! St. Martin entered the “Big Time” during the Eighties when investor friendly policies on the Dutch side lead to a rapidly developing tourism industry. The French side soon followed with special tax incentives for French citizens to invest into tourism and charter boats.