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St. Maarten Hotels

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Sint Maartin (Dutch) or St-Martin (French ) lies 260 kilometers north of Guadeloupe and 310 kilometers east of Puerto Rico, in a cluster of islands on the Anguilla Bank. The island is amicably shared by the Dutch, who have the southern 37 square kilometers of the island, and the French, who own the northern 52 square kilometers, an arrangement settled by the 1648 Treaty of Mount Concordia. The salt ponds in the south of the island attracted the Dutch and during the early 19th century the island enjoyed modest prosperity but with the abolition of slavery the population declined, as did the salt exporting industry, and it is only in the last twenty or so years with the onset of tourism that the island has flourished as a beach holiday destination. The Dutch side of the island has the main airport and seaport and most of the tourists. The French side is noticeably Gallic and few speak English. There are no border formalities: only a modest monument erected in 1948, which commemorates the division of the island three centuries earlier. The west part of the island is low-lying and mostly taken up by the Simpson Bay Lagoon, which provides a safe anchorage for small craft. The lagoon is separated from the sea by a narrow strip of land on which the airport has been built. The rest of the Dutch part is hilly and dry and covered with scrub, although it can quickly turn green after rain.

The population of at least 62,000 (33,459 in St Maarten and 28,518 in St Martin) has mushroomed with the tourist boom: the 1950 St Maarten census gave the total population at 1,484. While many of the residents were formerly ex-patriots who returned to their island, there is a large proportion who have come from other Caribbean islands to seek work. Few people speak Dutch, the official language, although Papiamento has increased with the migration of people from the ABC Dutch islands. Nearly everybody speaks English and there is a large Spanish-speaking contingent of guest workers from the Dominican Republic










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