Saint Martin

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Saint Martin

Saint Martin (săN märtăN´), Du. Sint Maarten, island, 37 sq mi (96 sq km), West Indies, one of the Leeward Islands. Since its occupation in 1648 by the Dutch and the French, it has been divided. The northern part (2015 est pop. 32,000; 20 sq mi/52 sq km), with the capital at Marigot, is a French overseas collectivity; until 2007 it was part of Guadeloupe. The president of France, represented by a prefect, is the head of state. The government is headed by the president of the unicameral Territorial Council, whose 23 members are elected to five-year terms. The southern part (2015 est. pop. 39,000; 17 sq mi/44 sq km) became an autonomous country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands when the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved in 2010. The capital on the Dutch side is Philipsburg. The monarch of the Netherlands, represented by a governor-general, is the head of state. The prime minister, the head of government, is chosen by the unicameral parliament (Staten), whose 15 members are elected to four-year terms. Both capital towns are free ports. A hilly, scenic island provided with good harbors, St. Martin is a popular tourist resort, and tourism is the main source of income. The island was devastated by Hurricane Luis in 1995 and Hurricane Irma in 2017.

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