Sint Maarten is the name of the Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean Sea, which is divided between the French Republic (northern part of the Island) and the Kingdom of the Netherlands (southern part of the island). It is located 900 km northeast, east of the Virgin Islands. Its capital is the city of Philipsburg and it has an estimated area of 34 km².
Sint Maarten is the southern and smaller part (it has 3,400 hectares or 34 km²) of the island of Saint Martin and is separated from the French part by a land border (whose limit is not visible), the only existing border between France and the Kingdom from the Netherlands. The capital is Philipsburg, where the Parliament and most of the government services are located. Other cities include Simsonbay, Madame Estate, Cul-de-sac, Duch Quarter, Koolbaai, Oyster pond, South Reward, Saint-Peters, Pointe-Blanche, Middle Region, Cay hill, Upper Prince’s Quarter, and Lower Prince’s Quarter. The dispersed settlements are mainly centered in the low areas near the coast, but they are beginning to spread in the heights of the hills. Its insular territory also includes the uninhabited islands Guana Key, Hen & Chickens, Cow & Calff,
Initially inhabited by indigenous tribes. The island was spotted by the navigator Christopher Columbus on his second voyage on November 11, 1493 (San Martín de Tours day), calling it Isla de San Martín. It was colonized by the Spanish although the island had a low priority.
On the other hand the French and Dutch coveted the island, due to the low population of the island the Dutch easily created a settlement for protection in 1631. In 1633 the Spanish captured the island from the Dutch, keeping control of most of the island’s settlers. In Punta Blanca a fort was built for the protection of the territory, despite several attempts to recover the island the Dutch did not succeed. In 1648 the Spanish abandoned the island, remaining under the rule of the French and the Dutch.
In 1959, Saint Martin gains the status of a territory of the Netherlands in the Netherlands Antilles. Tourism was quickly becoming the main activity as visitors were drawn to the white sand beaches and its tax policy, its free port, its banking secrecy and its casinos.
After years of negotiation between the three states of the kingdom (the Netherlands, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles), voters were called to vote in a referendum on continued union with the other four islands of the federation or separation.
According to the results of the referendum held on the island on 22 of June of 2000, Sint Maarten will have a separate government and a similar status to that currently owns Aruba, who seceded from the Netherlands Antilles in 1986. Although the separation was scheduled for 15 as December as 2008, it was completed on October as October as 2010.