Compare and contrast Saint Martin- the french half and Sint Maarten-the dutch half - Essay Example

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The French half is named St.Martin and the Dutch half, Sint Maarten. The folklore of this Island nation says that “ a gin-drinking Dutch man and a…
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Compare and contrast Saint Martin- the french half and Sint Maarten-the dutch half
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Political Organization and Social Control  Divided into a Dutch half and a French half, Island of Saint Martin stands as a unique geo-political territory on Earth. The French half is named St.Martin and the Dutch half, Sint Maarten. The folklore of this Island nation says that “ a gin-drinking Dutch man and a wine-guzzling French man walked around the island to see how much territory each could earmark for his country in a day.” (Porter and Prince, 2005, p.587)
Christopher Columbus spotted the Saint Martin Islands in 1643 and he made the islands a Spanish colony. ( In 1631, the Dutch resource hunters found out that Saint Martin was rich in salt deposits and set about extracting that ( A few years later though Spain regained this territory, after an era of conflict, the Island fell to the hands of the Dutch and the French, who shared it between them (
French laws and constitution govern Saint Martin. Chief of State is the French President. The members of the Territorial Council elect president of the Territorial Council. Saint Martin also elects one seat to the French Senate.
Frommer’s travel guide (Porter and Prince, 2005, p.587) has stated that Sint Maarten which used to be a sleepy Caribbean backwater, is now a booming town with its duty paid shops making it a virtual mall. Cruise-ship crowds make the scene more chaotic but all these indicate the economic upward rise of this part of the Island. But the French part of the island is much quieter. French Saint Martin is governed directly from Gaudelope and has representation in the government in Paris. (Porter and Prince, 2005, p.587).
In 2003, the population of Saint Martin Island and Saint Barthelemy Island voted to secede from Gaudeloupe, the name that represented the whole Island nation. (Caribbean Net News, 2003). In 2007, the French portion of the Island also became an overseas collectivity. Saint Martin was accessed to Europian Union later via the treaty of Lisbon. (Treaty of Lisbon, 2007, p.152).
Language of the Sint Maarten side is officially Dutch and The St. Martin side is officially French. But English is the most common language throughout the island. Spanish, French Patois, and Papiamento, a dialect of Netherlands Antilles are spoken by small segments of the population. It is on the Dutch islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curasao, Papiamento is preferred as the first language (Sullivan, 2003, p.15)
Dutch is the language used on Sint Maarten as the learning medium in schools and as the official administration language. ( Spanish has become common with a wave of immigrants from the Dominican Republic and the East-Indian merchants inhabiting the Dutch side use a variety of Indian tongues. (
Subsistence and Economic Systems 
The policy of open borders has turned this tiny island into a vibrant economic hub. ( 85 % of the labour force in Saint Martin depends on tourism for their sustainance. More than on emillion visitors arrive every year. (The World Fact Book, CIA). In late 18th century, sugarcane cultivation was started in Saint Martin and along with this, the system of slavery came into being which was abolished only in 1848 (The World Fact Book, CIA). The tourism industry flourished in 1970s and 1980s. (The World Fact Book, CIA)
Almost all the food that is required is imported, as there is no noticeable agriculture or fishing activity on the Island. Energy resources and manufactured goods are imported mainly from US and Mexico (The World Fact Book, CIA). Greenberg (2003, p.143), in her book, St.Martin, St.Bark and Anguilla alive!, has noted that Restaurants and shops in St.Martin operate on the Europian system,closing at midday for a leisurely lunch.
The common observation is that “France which rules, Saint Martin, as a municipality in the Department of Guadeloupe has been very liberal with public funds and tax concessions to those who invest in French Saint Martin (Kersell, 1993). But the Kingdom of the Netherlands has been more keen to impart political autonomy than financial assistance to the part of the island governed by them (Kersell, 1993). Thus, Dutch Sint Maarten has much more political and administrative freedom than its northern counterpart, but it has to depend on investment from American and Europe for economic development ((Kersell, 1993). So infrastructure and social welfare systems in the Dutch part of Saint Martin leaves much to be desired. (Kersell et. al, 1993)
Another fact related to the economic development of this twin nation is that, “the Dutch began developing a tourist industry in the 1950s, but the French didnt take advantage of this opportunity until the 1970s” ( The real estate industry is strongly developed in Dutch part of Saint Martin and owing to this, this part of the nation has lost some of its natural beauty and thereby tourism potential. ( But the French part has retained its serene beauty. ( Defiscalisation has been a major policy incentive for investors in French part of Saint Martin.  A French tax -payer can invest in hotel construction on St Marten and 100% of this amount will be subtracted from his income tax obligation. (

Porter, Darwin, Prince, Danforth, Frommer’s Caribbean 2006, 2005, Volume 113,
Frommer’s complete travel guides, John Wiley and Sons.
This travel guide describes the geographical and demographical fatures of the Island of Saint Martin from a tourist’s angle. But there are several valuable historical and cultural information added in the descriptions and hence this book becomes a serious guide to the student of social history also.
Caribbean Net News,
"French Caribbean voters reject change", 9 December 2003. Retrieved 16 November
This website is a very useful resource for those who study the socio-political situation in the Caribbean island of St. Martin. The political history of this island is described precisely and candidly in this website.
The Treaty of Lisbon amending the treaty establishing the European Union and the
treaty establishing the European Community, including the protocols and annexes, and
final act with declarations: Lisbon, 13 December 2007, Issue 13 of European
Communities, Great Britain The Stationery Office, 2007.
This treaty delineates the common rules and regulations to be followed by Europian Union countries and includes a clause in which the Island of Saint Martin is made part of Europian Union through affecting a change in its administrative structure as a nation.
Sullivan, Lynne.M., 2003, Adventure guide to St.Martin and St.Barts, Hunter Travel
Guide Series, Hunter Publishing. Inc.
This guide for tourists also provides a sneak view into the cultural and social complexities of the Island of Saint Martin. The languages of the island and their geographical distribution are also briefly described in this book.
. The World Fact Book, CIA,
factbook/geos/rn.html, retrieved on November 15, 2009.
This website is maintained by CIA, the US intelligence agency, and contains important information about the history and political system in Saint Martin. It also narrates a brief summary of the livelihood of the people of Saint Martin.
Greenberg, Harriet, 2003, St.Martin, St.Bark and Anguilla alive!, Hunter
Alive Guides, Hunter Publishers.Inc.
This travel guide gives a vivid discription of the beauty and diversity of Saint Martin and along with that it provides a glimpse into the trade scenario in the island.,, retrieved on
15 November, 2009.
This website describes the history and culture of Saint Martin. This website also imparts information on the growth of tourism industry in Saint Martin and the factors that influenced it.
8.,〈=EN, retrieved on November 15, 2009.
This website gives facts and figures about the tourism and real estate growth of the Island of Saint Martin. This website also offers an economic comparison between the French half and Dutch half of the this nation.
Kersell, 1993, Small-scale administration in St Martin: Two governments of one
people, Department of Political Science, the University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada,
John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
This article describes the socio-economic realities of the Island of Saint Martin. It addresse the development shift on the French part as compared to the Dutch part of the island and discusses the pros and cons of both.
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