Geographic and Governmental Profile of 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 Saint Martin to the French and Dutch, who divided it between themselves in 1648. Friction between the two sides caused the border to frequently fluctuate over the next two centuries, with the French eventually holding the greater portion of the island (about 57%). 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 Saint Martin voted to secede from Guadeloupe and in 2007, the northern portion of the island became a French overseas collectivity. In 2010, the Dutch portion of the island became an independent nation within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Caribbean, located in the Leeward Islands (northern) group; French part of the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean Sea; Saint Martin lies east of the US Virgin Islands
Geographic coordinates
18 05 N, 63 57 W
Continent / Subcontinent
Central America and the Caribbean
54.4 sq km
54.4 sq km
Area - comparative
more than one-third the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries
15 km
border countries:
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
Elevation extremes
lowest point:
Caribbean Ocean 0 m
highest point:
Pic du Paradis 424 m
Natural resources
Natural hazards
subject to hurricanes from July to November
Environment - current issues
freshwater supply is dependent on desalinization of sea water
Geography - note
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
Country name
conventional long form:
Overseas Collectivity of Saint Martin
conventional short form:
Saint Martin
local long form:
Collectivite d'outre mer de Saint-Martin
local short form:
Dependency status
overseas collectivity of France
geographical coordinates:
18 04 N, 63 05 W
time difference:
UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
none (overseas collectivity of France)
National holiday
Bastille Day, 14 July (1789); note - local holiday is Schoalcher Day (Slavery Abolition Day) 12 July (1848)
4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system
French civil law
18 years of age, universal
Executive branch
chief of state:
President Francois HOLLANDE (since 15 May 2012), represented by Prefect Philippe CHOPIN (since 16 November 2011)
head of government:
President of the Territorial Council Alain RICHARDSON (since 1 April 2012)
Executive Council; note - there is also an advisory economic, social, and cultural council
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 elected by the members of the Council for a five-year term
election results:
Alain RICHARDSON elected president by the Territorial Council on 1 April 2012
Legislative branch
unicameral Territorial Council (23 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
last held on 18 and 25 March 2012 (next to be held in July 2017)
election results:
percent of seats by party - RRR 34.1%, Team Daniel Gibbs 2012 32%, UPP 13.3%, Saint-Martin pour tous 9.4%; seats by party - NA; second round, percent of seats by party - RRR 56.9%, Team Daniel Gibbs 43.1%; seats by party - RRR 17, Team Daniel Gibbs 6
Saint Martin elects one member to the French Senate; election last held on 21 September 2008 (next to be held in September 2014); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UMP 1
Political parties and leaders
Union Pour le Progres or UPP [Louis-Constant FLEMING]; Rassemblement Responsabilite Reussite or RRR [Alain RICHARDSON]; Reussir Saint-Martin [Jean-Luc HAMLET]; Saint-Martin pour tous; Team Daniel Gibbs
Political pressure groups and leaders
International organization participation
Diplomatic representation in the US
none (overseas collectivity of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US
none (overseas collectivity of France)
Flag description
the flag of France is used
National symbol(s)
brown pelican
National anthem
"O Sweet Saint Martin's Land"
Gerard KEMPS
the song, written in 1958, is used as an unofficial anthem for the entire island (both French and Dutch sides); as a collectivity of France, in addition to the local anthem, "La Marseillaise" remains official on the French side (see France); as a constituent part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in addition to the local anthem, "Het Wilhelmus" remains official on the Dutch side (see Netherlands)
Data source 1: All Above textual data, maps and flags were extracted from The World Factbook which was prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency and made available on the following link: The World Factbook. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsered or affiliated, in any way, by the US Central Intelligence Agency
Data source 2: Plots and Charts are constructed using the world bank public data catalog which can be viewed by visiting the following link: World Bank Data Catalog. Lebanese Economy Forum is not sponsored or affiliated, in any way, by the worldbank

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