St Maarten

The Salvation Army started working in Sint Maarten in 1999. The country is part of the Caribbean Territory. Within the territory, there are 130 corps and 45 outposts where 998 employees, 324 salvation officers and 11,812 salvation soldiers are employed. (Source: Salvation Army yearbook)

General

Capital: Philipsburg

Surface: 87 km²

Number of inhabitants: 41.109

Language: Dutch, English

Religion: Roman Catholic

Currency: Antillean guilder

Form of government: Constitutional monarchy 

Development

Although Sint Maarten is not a third world country, it has received much support in recent years. This was mainly the result of Hurricane Irma which hit the island in 2017. Sint Maarten’s overall unemployment rate, which was previously six percent, and the youth unemployment rate, which was previously 24%, rose significantly in 2018 as a result of the closure of tourism businesses. The figures are starting to stabilize, but the country remains vulnerable. (source: UNDP)

History and Politics

Sint Maarten was discovered by Columbus in 1493. The island was especially interesting for The Netherlands and France because of its salt. In 1630, the Dutch and French settled on the island and took over from the Spaniards. In 1648 France and the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (as it was called then) signed an agreement, the Concordia Treaty, which stated the island was to be shared. Only when the island had already changed ownership 16 times did the agreement become absolute in 1817. During the second half of the 19th century, there was a lot of poverty on Sint Maarten. In 1939 the island became a free trade area without taxes. However, the Netherlands had to step in to support the budget deficits of the island government. After the Second World War, tourism started to become big. On November 2, 2006, the Netherlands signed an agreement with Curaçao and Sint Maarten to give the islands a separate status within the Kingdom. The Netherlands Antilles were abolished in 2010. The Dutch part of Sint Maarten gained autonomy within the Kingdom of the Netherlands that year and that is how the country Sint Maarten came into existence. (source: landenweb) 

Economy

Sint Maarten has become one of the most popular destinations in the Caribbean archipelago in the last decades. Economically, the island is dependent on tourism for up to 80% which makes the economy of the island very vulnerable. The Antillean economy as a whole is strongly focused on foreign countries but are also largely dependent on import. The Netherlands Antilles are not members of the European Union, but they are associated with it. This offers a number of trade benefits. The Antillean currency is the Antillean guilder which is linked to the US dollar. (source: landenweb)

Culture

The current culture of Sint Maarten has a multicultural composition. The reggae music comes from Jamaica, the Carnival from Trinidad and the merengue from the Dominican Republic. The original background of the residents of Sint Maarten lies in Africa, France and the Netherlands. The most important celebration on Sint Maarten is carnival that is celebrated in the last two weeks of April. The official language on the island is Dutch, but most people in the Dutch part of Sint Maarten speak English at home, at work and at school. All official documents from the government and administration are drawn up in Dutch though. The population of Sint Maarten who originate from the Dominican Republic and Haiti, speak Spanish and French is spoken on the French part of Sint Maarten. (source: landenweb)