Saint Martin (France) Overview

San Martin. (in French: Saint-Martin). Officially it is named Collectivity of Saint Martin (in French: Collectivité de Saint-Martin). It is an overseas community of France located in the Caribbean. It occupies the northern part of the island of San Martín and other nearby islets, the largest of which is Tintamarre Island. It limits the south with Sint Maarten, constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. This territory acquired its current status the 22 of February of 2007, when next to San Bartolomé, was separated from the overseas department of Guadeloupe. According to the Lisbon Treaty, it is an outermost region of the European Union.


According to Neovideogames, the island was inhabited by various indigenous tribes, such as the Caribs and Arawaks. The French colonization on the island of San Martín dates back to the French company installed in San Cristóbal around 1626. After the expulsion of the Spanish colony on the island, France and the kingdom of Holland signed a treaty that divided the island in 1648. For much of the 18th and early 19th centuries, the island was under British occupation.

After the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1815, French sovereignty was definitively defined, which would be reaffirmed with the renewal of the treaty with the Dutch in 1838. In 1636, San Martín formed a sub-prefecture together with San Bartolomé within the territory of Guadalupe. In a referendum conducted on 7 of December of 2003 that was attended by the 44.18% of the population, 76.17% of them were in favor of changing Article 74 of the French Constitution in order to change the status of commune in a territorial community. After being approved by the Senate in 2006, the reform entered into force on As February 22 as 2007.

Historical events

  • November of 1493 – Christopher Columbus discovers the island.
  • 1637 – Occupation by French filibusters who take possession of the island in the name of Louis XIII. They were soon expelled by the Dutch.
  • 1640 – The Spanish take the island.
  • 1648 – Spontaneous departure of the Spanish. Arrival of the Dutch and the French. Two runners depart in opposite directions from a point on the coast. The starting point and the meeting point define the border between Sint-Marteen and Saint-Martin.
  • Of March 13 of 1648 – Signing of the treaty to share the “mountain of the agreements”.
  • 1674 – Administrative linkage of the French zone to Guadeloupe.
  • 1794 – Invasion of the island by the English.
  • 1796 – Liberation of the island by Victor Hugues, who gives the southern part to Holland.
  • 1848 – Abolition of slavery in the French zone.
  • 1863 – Abolition of slavery on the Dutch side.
  • 1943 – The French zone becomes a dependency of the department of Guadeloupe. Opening of the Princess Juliana airport.
  • September of 1995 – Cyclones Luis and Marilyn destroy the island.
  • Of December 7 of 2003 – Guadalupe pushes back the draft institutional reform proposed elected public office. The French area of Saint Martin opts to stop being administratively dependent on Guadeloupe to become a French Overseas Collectivity. Decisions affecting the territory are dealt with directly between San Martín and the French authorities.


The northern part of the island (53 km²) is the larger of the two parts. It includes numerous cerros (small mountains) whose highlights are: Pic Paradis (424 m), Mont Careta (401 m), Flagstaff (390 m), Mont France (387 m), Mont des Accords (322 m), Marigot hill (307 m), Mont O’Reilly. These hills separate the valleys of Colombier (the deepest), Caréta, Grand-Fond, Moho, Petit-Fond, Jones-Gut, Lotterie, etc. and the plains of: Bellevue, La Savanne, Concordia, Quartier d’Orléans (the most extensive).

In addition to the Moho spring and scattered small slopes (artificial ponds), since 1975 in the place called Hope at the foot of the Caréta ravine there is a small freshwater lake created by a gravity dam. The French part of Saint Martin also includes the Tintamarre island and the Pinel islet in addition to the islets: Cayes vertes, Petite Clef, Crowl Rock, Roca de l’anse Marcel and Rocas de la pointe Lucas.


On San Martín Island, the rainy season runs from July to October. The climate can be stifling with temperatures sometimes exceeding 30º and intense humidity when the trade winds are not blowing. The climate is milder during the dry season (from February to April). Temperatures remain around 26º and humidity is lower. Risk of cyclones on the island of San Martín from August to September.


A good number of cacti have found their place in the windiest and sunniest corners of the island. In other areas there are coconut palms, flamboyants, bougainvilleas, beach grapes, almond trees and quenepas. The island is very colorful thanks to the oleanders, hibiscus, orchids and alpinias that decorate parks and gardens. Among this abundant flora, there is a tree with which you have to be especially careful. It is the chamomile of death. It produces a juice that can cause serious burns, and its fruits are not edible.


On the island of San Martín, the main enemy of man is the Mosquito. It is a very abundant insect on the island and its bites are extremely unpleasant. It is advisable to protect yourself from it. There are also “ravets”, a species of cockroach that is harmless but not particularly attractive. Lizards, iguanas and mongooses also inhabit this territory. There are numerous species of birds, including hummingbirds, warblers, Mexican avocets, herons and brown pelicans. At night, the crickets and the “cabrit bois” (a large species of grasshopper), which begin their concert at sunset.


Pico Paradis It is the highest point of the island, which rises to 420 m. To the west you can see the Terres Basses and the great Simsonbaai pond. To the north, the arid, rolling countryside, with red-roofed houses and coconut trees, stretches to the beaches of the eastern bay. Also to the north the English island of Anguilla is clearly visible.

Pinel Islet

It is located northeast of the French part of Saint Martin, this strip of white sand surrounded by transparent waters make the site a privileged resting place for the residents of Saint Martin and for tourists.

Isla de Tintamarre Located 4 km northeast of San Martín, it is part of the San Martín Nature Reserve. This 100 hectare haven of peace is devoid of any form of human life. Only the remains of an airfield built by the Americans during World War II, a small railway and a cotton farm remain.


The official currency of Saint Martin is the euro, although the US dollar is also widely accepted. Tourism is the main economic activity. The INSEE estimated that the total GDP of San Martín was 421 million euros in 1999 (449 million US $ at the exchange rate of 1999; 599 million US $ at the exchange rate of October 2007). In that same year, the GDP per capita of San Martín was 14,500 euros (15,500 US $ at the exchange rate of 1999; 20,600 US $ at the exchange rate of October 2007), which was 39% lower than the average GDP per capita of metropolitan France in 1999. By comparison, GDP per capita in the Dutch part of the island, Sint Maarten, was 14,430 euros in 2004.


The San Martín Collective has an area of 53.2 km². In the French census of January 2006, the population in the French part of the island was 35,263 residents (only 8,072 residents more than in the 1982 census). The population density was 663 residents / km² in 2006.

Population history

1885 1961 1967 1974 1982 1990 1999 2006 2007
3,400 4,502 5,061 6,191 8,072 28,518 29,078 35,263 36,392

Official figures from French censuses.


Out of a total of 66,000 residents. 32,000 in San Martín and 34,000 in Sint-Marteen. 80% of French and Dutch citizens have African origins. 10% of the population is French European, 4% are Europeans of different nationalities, 3% are Chinese and 3% are Indian. 60% of the total population is foreign. There are 82 nationalities represented on the island: 40% are Haitian natives, 20% from Dominica, Anguilla, Saint Kitts, Nevis and Saint Eustatius and 14% from the Dominican Republic.

Saint Martin (France) Overview