The history of the island of St Martin
The original inhabitants of the island, the Arawak Indians who arrived several centuries ago, have left traces of their passage, found in some archaeological sites such as Hope Estate, where many artifacts were discovered and presented at the Museum of Marigot.
Between 800BC and 300BC, the Arawaks have settled on the island. These early dwellers, who were semi-nomadic, were living by hunting, fishing and gathering.
The island was discovered on November 11, 1493 by Christopher Columbus , during his second trip and named it Saint Martin as it was this saint's day. This discovery changed nothing for the island, despite its new name, does not seem to interest anyone until 1626, when a group of French and Dutch settlers have settled on the island. The Dutch take ownership of the southern part of the island with salt marshes which became later Philipsburg; the French occupied the northern part, where they are interested in agriculture.
When the Dutch and French governments decide to deal with the island, they agreed to formally endorse the state of harmony and cooperation that the population has put in place: the Treaty of Concordia was signed in 1648 between the two nations and thus became the smallest territory in the world divided between two nations. The treaty recognized both the dual nationality and the unity of the island: there would be no physical border and people and goods would move freely between the two nations. This situation continues until today. While retaining their own identity, the two sides of the island maintain the spirit of the Treaty of 1648.
By the early 1980s thanks to successive tax exemption laws and to the very strong dollar rate, tourism has become the main source of revenue for the entire population of the island. The tourist economy reached new heights in 1994, with nearly 600,000 visitors registered at the airport of Princess Juliana. In 2007, over 2 million people visited Saint-Martin. (Sources IEDOM)
By the early 1980s, the number of inhabitants on the Friendly Island has highly increased: In the French part, the population rose from 8,000 in 1982 to about 35,000 in 2007. Over 39,000 people are identified in the Dutch part. In total, almost 120 nationalities are living in St. Martin and St. Maarten with a balance of nationalities : French, Haitian, Dominican, American or other European countries. Thus, the most widely spoken languages are English, French, Creole and Papiamento.
In 2007, the French part of the Island has become the Overseas Collectivity of Saint Martin..
St. Martin is a tax-free port which is renowned as one of the best sights of the Caribbean.
Welcome to the well-named "Friendly Island".
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