Reference > World Factbook, 2008
  The World Factbook.  2008.
Saint Martin
Flag of Saint Martin                                Map of Saint Martin
Background:Although sighted by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1493 and claimed for Spain, it was the Dutch who occupied the island in 1631 and set about exploiting its salt deposits. The Spanish retook the island in 1633, but continued to be harassed by the Dutch. The Spanish finally relinquished St. Martin to the French and Dutch, who divided it amongst themselves in 1648. The cultivation of sugar cane introduced slavery to the island in the late 18th century; the practice was not abolished until 1848. The island became a free port in 1939; the tourism industry was dramatically expanded during the 1970s and 1980s. In 2003, the populace of St. Martin voted to secede from Guadeloupe and in 2007, the northern portion of the island became a French overseas collectivity.
Location:island 300 km southeast of Puerto Rico
Geographic coordinates:18 05 N, 63 57 W
Map references:Central America and the Caribbean
Area:total: 54.4 sq km
land: 54.4 sq km
water: NEGL
Area—comparative:more than one-third the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:total: 15 km
border countries: Netherlands Antilles (Sint Maarten) 15 km
Coastline:58.9 km (for entire island)
Climate:temperature averages 80-85 degrees all year long; low humidity, gentle trade winds, brief, intense rain showers; July-Novemeber is the hurricane season
Elevation extremes:lowest point: Caribbean Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pic du Paradis 424 m
Natural resources:salt
Environment—current issues:fresh water supply is dependent on desalinization of sea water
Geography—note:the island of Saint Martin is the smallest landmass in the World shared by two independent states, the French territory of Saint Martin and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten
Population:33,102 (October 2004 census)
Ethnic groups:creole (mulatto), black, Guadeloupe Mestizo (French-East Asia), white, East Indian
Religions:Roman Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Protestant, Hindu
Languages:French (official language), English, Dutch, French Patois, Spanish, Papiamento (dialect of Netherlands Antilles)
Country name:conventional long form: Overseas Collectivity of Saint Martin
conventional short form: Saint Martin
local long form: Collectivity d'outre mer de Saint-Martin
local short form: Saint-Martin
Dependency status:overseas collectivity of France
Capital:name: Marigot
geographical coordinates: 18 04 N, 63 05 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour behind Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight savings: +1 hour
Independence:none (overseas collectivity of France)
National holiday:Bastille Day, 14 July (1789); note - local holiday is Schoalcher Day (Slavery Abolition Day) 12 July (1848)
Constitution:4 October 1958 (French Constitution)
Legal system:the laws of France, where applicable, apply
Suffrage:18 years of age, universal
Executive branch:chief of state: President Nicolas SARKOZY (since 16 May 2007), represented by Prefect Dominique LACROIX (since 21 March 2007)
head of government: President of the Territorial Council Louis-Constant FLEMING (since 16 July 2007)
cabinet: Executive Council; note - there is also an advisory economic, social, and cultural council
election: French president elected by popular vote to a five-year term; prefect appointed by the French president on the advice of the French Ministry of Interior; president of the Territorial Council is elected by the members of the Council for a five-year term
election results: Louis-Constant FLEMING unanimously elected president by the Territorial Council on 16 July 2007
Legislative branch:unicameral Territorial Council (23 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 1 and 8 July 2007 (next to be held July 2012)
election results: percent of seats by party - UPP 49%, RRR 42.2%, Reussir Saint-Martin 8.9%; seats by party - UPP 16, RRR 6, Reussir Saint-Martin 1
Political parties and leaders:Union Pour le Progres or UPP [Louis Constant FLEMING]; Rassemblement Responsabilite Reussite or RRR [Alain RICHARDSON]; Reussir Saint-Martin [Jean-Luc HAMLET]
International organization participation:UPU
Diplomatic representation in the US:none (overseas collectivity of France)
Diplomatic representation from the US:none (overseas collectivity of France)
Flag description:the flag of France is used
Economy—overview:The economy of Saint Martin centers around tourism with 85% of the labor force engaged in this sector. Over one million visitors come to the island each year with most arriving through the Princess Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten. No significant agriculture and limited local fishing means that almost all food must be imported. Energy resources and manufactured goods are also imported, primarily from Mexico and the United States. Saint Martin is reported to have the highest per capita income in the Caribbean.
GDP—composition by sector:agriculture: 1%
industry: 15%
services: 84% (2000)
Labor force—by occupation:85% directly or indirectly employed in tourist industry
Industries:tourism, light industry and manufacturing, heavy industry
Imports—commodities:crude petroleum, food, manufactured items
Imports—partners:US, Mexico (2006)
Currency (code):euro (EUR); note - US dollar (USD) widely used
Exchange rates:euros per US dollar - 0.7345 (2007), 0.7964 (2006), 0.8041 (2005), 0.8054 (2004), 0.886 (2003)
Telephone system:general assessment: fully integrated access
domestic: direct dial capability with both fixed and wireless systems
international: country code - 590; undersea fiber-optic cable provides voice and data connectivity to Puerto Rico and Gudaloupe
Radio broadcast stations:FM 3 (2007)
Internet country; note - .gp, the ccTLD for Guadeloupe, and .fr, the ccTLD for France, might also be encountered
Airports—with paved runways:total: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
Transportation—note:nearest airport for international flights is Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) located in Sint Maarten
Military—note:defense is the responsibility of France


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