The Island of St. Maarten-St. Martin
” One foot in France, the other in Holland ”
November 11-th is celebrated as a holiday in many countries of Europe.
The holiday is commonly known as St. Martin’s Day.
On November 11, 1493 Christopher Columbus saw the silhouette of a mountain ridge in the western horizon from the bow of his ship during his second journey to discover a sea route to India. In honor of
the Patron Saint Martin of Tours, Columbus named the island St. Martin. This Caribbean island is part of the Antilles chain of islands and is located about 400 miles southeast of Puerto Rico.
When Columbus discovered this island, St. Martin was inhabited by native Carib- Indians. For the next 155 years, life on St. Martin remained a very quiet island that was outside the scope of world
politics and the growing frictions between colonial powers.
In 1648, an event took place that would change the history, customs and geography of the island. On March 13 th of that year, two ships arrived from Europe, one from France and one from Holland. The
captains of the two ships agreed to diplomatic means to determine which countries would lay claim to this island. The agreement included the selection of one crew member from each ship to begin walking in opposite
directions from a common starting point. Wherever they would meet, that point and the starting point would be connected in a straight line and that line would serve as the demarcation line between the French and
This interesting approach to diplomacy to solving was made even more interesting because of the long held tradition of drinking alcohol. The French crew member carried a bottle of red wine on his
journey and the Dutch crew member carried a supply of gin. The gin must have been a bit stronger than the red wine because the French ”walking diplomat” was able to walk much further than his Dutch counterpart.
Since the French crewmember was able to walk further, France ended up with about 60% of the land mass of St. Martin and Holland received about 40 %.
To reflect both French and Dutch colonies, the island was renamed St. Maarten – ST. Martin. The French portion ( St. Martin) of this island contains about 21 square miles and the capitol is Marigot.
The 25,000 residents of St.Martin speak French as the official language and use French franc as their national currency.
The Dutch portion (St. Maarten) of the island contains about 16 square miles and the capitol is Philipsburg. The 32,000 residents of St. Maarten speak Dutch as the official language and use the
Netherlands Antilles guilder as their national currency.
A stone monument marks the border that separates St. Martin from St. Maarten today with no impact on world events. The border does not impress some of the mountain goats and donkeys that graze in the
shadow of palm trees with their back feet in the Netherlands eating the grass in France, while few other are standing just opposite from them in France, chewing off the grass in the Netherlands.
Map of St. Maarten /St Martin
Border marker: standing with one leg in France and the other in the Netherlands
Mega tons Luxury cruise liners are bringing thousands of tourist on land ,the same spot Christopher Columbus waded on shore
The French portion of the Island
The Dutch portion of the Island