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Sint Maarten

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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 the island of Saint Martin to the French and Dutch, who divided it amongst themselves in 1648. The establishment of cotton, tobacco, and sugar plantations dramatically expanded slavery on the island in the 18th and 19th centuries; the practice was not abolished in the Dutch half until 1863. The island's economy declined until 1939 when it became a free port; the tourism industry was dramatically expanded beginning in the 1950s. In 1954, Sint Maarten and several other Dutch Caribbean possessions became part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands as the Netherlands Antilles. In a 2000 referendum, the citizens of Sint Maarten voted to become a self-governing country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The change in status became effective in October of 2010 with the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles.

Caribbean, located in the Leeward Islands (northern) group; Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean Sea; Sint Maarten lies east of the US Virgin Islands

Geographic coordinates:
18 4 N, 63 4 W

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

total: 34 sq km
country comparison to the world: 236
land: 34 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin

Area - comparative:
one-fifth the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:
total: 15 km
border countries: Saint Martin (France) 15 km

364 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm

Current Weather
tropical marine climate, ameliorated by northeast trade winds, results in moderate temperatures; average rainfall of 1500 mm/year; July-November is the hurricane season

low, hilly terrain, volcanic origin

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: unnamed point 415 m

Natural resources:

Land use:
arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 90%

Irrigated land:

Natural hazards:
subject to hurricanes from July to November

Environment - current issues:

Geography - note:
the northern border is shared with the French overseas collectivity of Saint Martin; together, these two enties make up the smallest landmass in the world shared by two self-governing states

37,429 (January 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 211

Age structure:
0-14 years: 23.4% (male 4,299/female 4,455)
15-64 years: 73% (male 13,053/female 14,259)
65 years and over: 3.6% (male 608/female 755) (2010 est.)

Birth rate:

Death rate:
3 deaths/1,000 population (2009)
country comparison to the world: 219

Net migration rate:
14.24 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008)
country comparison to the world: 5

Sex ratio:
at birth: 0.98 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.81 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2010)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: NA
male: 73.1 years
female: 78.2 years (2009)

Total fertility rate:
1.7 children born/woman (2009)
country comparison to the world: 173

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

Roman Catholic 39%, Protestant 27%, Pentecostal 11.6%, none 6.7%, Seventh Day Adventist 6.2%, other 5.4%, Jewish 3.4%, not reported 0.7% (2001 census)

English 67.5% (official), Spanish 12.9%, Creole 8.2%, Dutch 4.2% (official), Papiamento 2.2% (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect), French 1.5%, other 3.5% (2001 census)

Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Sint Maarten
local long form: none
local short form: Sint Maarten
former: Netherlands Antilles; Curacao and Dependencies

Dependency status:
constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs granted in 2010; Dutch Government responsible for defense and foreign affairs

Government type:

name: Philipsburg
geographic coordinates: 18 1 N, 63 2 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:
none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

none (part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

National holiday:
Queen's Day (Birthday of Queen-Mother JULIANA and accession to the throne of her oldest daughter BEATRIX), 30 April (1909 and 1980)

Staatsregeling, 10 October 2010; revised Kingdom Charter pending

Legal system:
based on Dutch civil law system with some English common law influence

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen BEATRIX of the Netherlands (since 30 April 1980); represented by Governor General Eugene HOLIDAY (since 10 October 2010)
head of government: Sarah WESCOTT-WILLIAMS (since 10 October 2010)
cabinet: Cabinet
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor general appointed by the monarch for a six-year term; following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party is usually elected prime minister by the legislature

Legislative branch:
unicameral parliament or Staten (15 seats; members elected by popular vote for four year term)
elections: last held 17 September 2010 (next to be held in 2014)
election results: percent of vote by party - National Alliance 45.9%, UPP 36.1%, Democratic Party 17.1%; seats by party - National Alliance 7, UPP 6, Democratic Party 2

Judicial branch:
Common Court of Justice, Joint High Court of Justice (judges appointed by the monarch)

Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Party or DP [Sarah WESCOTT-WILLIAMS]; National Alliance or NA [William MARLIN]; United People's Party or UPP [Theodore HEYLIGER]; Concordia Political Alliance or CPA [Jeffery RICHARDSON]

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (represented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands)

Diplomatic representation from the US:
the US does not have an embassy in Sint Maarten; the Consul General to Curacao is accredited to Sint Maarten

Flag description:
two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and blue with a white isosceles triangle based on the hoist side; the center of the triangle displays the Sint Maarten coat of arms; the arms consist of an orange-bordered blue shield prominently displaying the white court house in Philipsburg, as well as a bouquet of yellow sage (the national flower) in the upper left, and the silhouette of a Dutch-French friendship monument in the upper right; the shield is surmounted by a yellow rising sun in front of which is a Brown Pelican in flight; a yellow scroll below the shield bears the motto: SEMPER PROGREDIENS (Always Progressing); the three main colors are identical to those on the Dutch flag
note: the flag somewhat resembles that of the Philippines, but with the main red and blue bands reversed; the banner more closely evokes the wartime Philippine flag

Economy - overview:
The economy of Sint Maarten centers around tourism with nearly four-fifths of the labor force engaged in this sector. Over one million visitors come to the island each year - 1.3 million in 2008 - with most arriving through the Princess Juliana International Airport. Cruise ships and yachts also call on Sint Maarten's numerous ports and harbors. No significant agriculture and limited local fishing means that almost all food must be imported. Energy resources and manufactured goods are also imported. Sint Maarten had the highest per capita income among the five islands that formerly comprised the Netherlands Antilles.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$794.7 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 206
$748.9 million (2007 est.)
$703.2 million (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$794.7 million (2008)

GDP - real growth rate:
1.6% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
4.5% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$15,400 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 0.4%
industry: 18.3%
services: 81.3% (2008 est.)

Labor force:
23,200 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 207

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 1.1%
industry: 15.2%
services: 83.7% (2008)

Unemployment rate:
10.6% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
0.7% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
4.6% (2008 est.)

Agriculture - products:

tourism, light industry, and manufacturing

Electricity - production:
304.3 million kWh (2008)
country comparison to the world: 168

Exports - commodities:

Exports - partners:
China 23.49%, US 10.91%, Japan 5.92% (2009)

Imports - partners:
China 17.35%, Japan 14.79%, US 8.96%, Saudi Arabia 6.89% (2009)

Telephones - main lines in use:
5,153 (2001)
country comparison to the world: 211

Telephone system:
general assessment: generally adequate facilities
domestic: extensive interisland microwave radio relay links
international: country code - 599; the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) and the Americas-2 submarine cable systems provide connectivity to Central America, parts of South America and the Caribbean, and the US; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

country comparison to the world: 215

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2010)

total: 53 km
country comparison to the world: 217

Ports and terminals:

Military branches:
the Royal Netherlands Navy maintains a permanent and active presence in the region from its main operating base on Curacao and through a detachment on Sint Maarten; other local security forces include a coast guard, para-military National Guard (Vrijwilligers Korps Sint Maarten), and Police Force (KPSM) (2010)

Military service age and obligation:
no conscription (2010)

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the Kingdom of the Netherlands


Information from the CIA's "The World Fact Book" 2010




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