The island of Sint Maarten/St. Martin is the smallest space to be shared by two countries. For over three centuries, these Caribbean countries have co-existed so peacefully that a visitor can cross borders from one nation to the other without realizing it.
Sint Maarten, the Dutch half of this divided island, is home to more than seventy nationalities, and is one of the most well developed islands in the Caribbean. Philipsburg, its capital, is a hub for cruise lines and duty-free shopping, but despite the recent economic and developmental boom in the port and city area, Sint Maarten still boasts 36 beaches with strikingly white sand. Together, these these two countries make up the fourth best island in the Caribbean as ranked by USA Today in 2014. For more information, visit our our comprehensive Sint Maarten travel guide.
|Currency||The official currency of St. Maarten is the Netherlands Antillean Florin (Naf), sometimes called a guilder, but U.S. dollars are widely accepted.|
|Electricity||St. Maarten uses the same electrical system as the U.S. (110-volt). Visitors should plan accordingly.|
|GDP Per Capita||The average per capita income is approximately $11,400(USD).|
|Island Size||The Dutch half of this island is about 13.1 square miles in area.|
|Language||Dutch is the official language of St. Maarten, but Papiamento, Spanish, and English are also spoken.|
|Population||Dutch Sint Maarten is home to about 37,500 residents; in addition, there are 402,600 visitors annually, 48 percent of whom are from the U.S.|
|Entry Requirements||U.S. citizens can visit St. Maarten with a valid passport and an ongoing or return ticket.|
Generally, travelers arrive via Princess Juliana Airport, the second busiest airport in the Caribbean. Direct flights are available from the U.S. and Canada. Flights from outside of North America typically connect through San Juan (Puerto Rico). Princess Juliana hosts many international carriers, including but not limited to, Air France, American Airlines, American Eagle, BWIA, Continental Airlines, Corse Air International, Caribbean Star, DCA, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, LIAT, St. Barth's Commuter, U.S. Airways, Windward Express Airways, and Windward Island Airways.
Taxis are available for transport from the airport to hotels and resorts. Fares from Princess Juliana Airport are approximately $6(USD) to Maho Beach, and $12(USD) to Philipsburg. Fares are higher between 10:00 p.m. and Midnight.
The island as a whole experiences about 42.3 inches of rain per year, making it one of the more tropical islands in the Caribbean. Temperatures are pleasant and mild year round, with January temperatures ranging from 73 to 81, and July temperatures ranging from 78 to 86 (all in degrees Fahrenheit).
St. Maarten is the southern half of an island shared by the Dutch and French. Its beaches lie on the Caribbean Sea, while the French half hugs the Atlantic Ocean. Both countries share the Simpson Bay Lagoon. St Maarten is the smaller half of the island, with just 13.1 square miles. Despite the whole island's varied topography, St. Maarten is comprised mainly of lowly elevated landscapes and small lagoons. As the island transforms into St. Martin, the terrain slowly becomes more hilly and rugged.
It's best to avoid night driving on St. Maarten, and even wiser to avoid deserted, poorly lit back roads at night. Isolated beaches are usually isolated for a reason - don't go out seeking an adventure. Travelers are advised to use the buddy system. Beyond that, follow basic safety rules of traveling, such as keeping an eye on your possessions. The water is safe to drink throughout the island, and shouldn't cause any upset stomachs.
The people of St. Maarten represent the island's culturally diverse heritage. The influences of Dutch, French, British and African ancestors can be seen in the smiling faces that inhabit St. Maarten, and the languages vistors will encounter here are no less varied. Officially, Dutch is the language of St. Maarten, but schoolchildren are required to learn English and a large number also speak Spanish or French.
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