The 37-square mile island of St. Maarten was first settled by the Arawaks and was discovered by Christopher Columbus on behalf of Spain in 1493. Columbus sighted the island on November 11th, the Holy Day of St. Martin of Tours, and so named the island in his honor. For the next 150 years, the island was passed between the Netherlands, England, France and Spain. The old stone forts that guard many of the island’s inlets stand as proof of the island’s past.
In 1648 St. Maarten was peacefully divided between The Netherlands and France by the Treaty of Concordia, which was signed on March 23rd 1648. St. Maarten’s division makes it quite unique. St. Maarten (Dutch)/St. Martin (French) is the smallest landmass in the world to be shared peacefully by two sovereign nations spanning over 365 years. Similarly, the island has two capitals. The capital of St. Maarten is Philipsburg while the capital of St. Martin is Marigot. St. Maarten, with its multinational and multicultural population has two official languages, namely Dutch and English while St. Martin’s official language is French.
Dubbed the ‘Friendly Island’, St. Maarten boasts one of the most multiethnic populations in the world, with over 100 nationalities happily coexisting on 37 square miles. This melting pot offers a diverse, educated multilingual population that takes pride in the country’s moniker, constantly taking friendliness and services to higher levels. St. Maarten’s skilled workforce coupled with its economic opportunities, world class infrastructure and multidimensional society all contribute to the uniqueness of its 37 square miles.