History

The first population was the Arawaks from the South of America migrated about a thousand years ago. They live peacefully in the island named at that moment the ‘Land of Salt’ until the arrival of the Amazonian Group, the Carib. 

But it turned to the Spanish hands with the Christophe Colomb’s arrival on November 11th, 1493. He claimed the same day for Spain and Sint Maarten was forgotten because of conquests until 1620 when Dutch settlers were extracting salt from Sint Maarten’s pond to export it to Netherlands. Finally, the Island’s commercial possibilities attracted the Spanish in 1633 who built a Fort to assert their authority. In 1644, a Dutch fleet under the command of Peter Stuyvesant tried to retake the island. It was unsuccessful and Stuyvesant lost his leg.

The conflicts in Europe changed the destiny of the Island. The end of the eighty years war between Spain and Netherlands forced the Spanish to leave Sint Maarten because they didn’t need a base in Caribbean. But French wanted Sint Maarten as Dutch did. After some battles, they finally signed the treaty in 1648 which divided the island into 2 parts. Local legends tells that to draw the boundary two men was chosen, one French and one Dutch, to stand back to back and run in opposite directions until they reached the spot where they met. That’s why Saint-Martin is bigger than Sint Maarten.

The neighbors did not coexist peacefully between 1648 and 1816 and Dutch side was concentrated on commercial trading as salt, coton etc. The island became wealthy with the arrival of sugar plantations and the slave labor. The abolishment of slavery sank the Island into economic depressions. Further, in 1939 when the taxes were rescinded all the situation had changed : Sint Maarten became a free port. In 1943, the Princess Juliana Airport was built and its first hotel the Sea View also. The Touristic BOOM began … In 1980 the touristic economy increases considerably. Saint Martin named the Friendly Island started to be the main stop of a lot American people who lived from 4 hours.


Saint Martin ( French Side) had been included to the Guadeloupe Department in 1946 and in 2007 it became “la collectivite de Saint-Martin” . The French side got a type of autonomy on taxes and customs duties but also on the social protection.

In 1954, Sint Maarten belonged to the Netherlands Antilles that regrouped several territories from Caribbean Islands. In 2010, Sint Maarten was detaching itself administratively to become an independent nation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.