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Sint Maarten / St. Martin & St. Barts

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Introduction

With an area of only 37 square miles, the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin is unique in the world in being divided between two nations but with no real border, just a line on the map. Its dual owners are the Netherlands Antilles and the French, who have shared this island peacefully for almost 350 years. This absence of conflict testifies to the island's success in maintaining this system, largely by the goodwill of the people rather than legal arrangements. Situated about 100 miles east of the Virgin Islands, St. Maarten / St. Martin is one square mile bigger than the island of Hong Kong. It comprises an area marked by verdant, rolling hills placed above miles of beaches and a beautiful lagoon dotted with yachts of every size & description. Although the Island falls under the governments of France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, its diversity and the influence of West Indian and other traditions make its culture anything but Dutch or French. (The French influence on cuisine however, is to be applauded). Philipsburg the Dutch capital since 1768, is known for its colonial architecture. The town began as a Dutch trading center, and the old forts around Philipsburg are haunting reminders of its one-time strategic importance. Traders from throughout the empire sailed into its Great Bay, establishing the town as a lively center of international commerce. Today most of the vessels arriving in the harbor today are cruise ships, plus warships from friendly navies. International trade still thrives in St. Maarten thanks to its status as a duty free port, no duties, no Customs officials either. The principal town on the French side is Marigot, recently enlarged by land reclamation, which has provided excellent parking. The shopping here is different from Philipsburg, offering more up market goods such as European fashions, at appropriate up market prices. Just North of Marigot, you may see Fort St. Luis, which is a superbly restored fort built at the end of the 18th century. A climb up the 100+ steps is very well worth the effort for the view of Anguilla to the north and the whole lagoon is spread out before your eyes. Continuing North you come to Grande Case, which is a village of mostly restaurants, then in the very north east corner there is a beautiful yachting marina called Anse Marcel with a well protected entrance. Here there is also a large hotel, the big Méridien L'Habitation. Back, just across the border on the East Coast is the famous Oyster Pond, an enclosed harbor with many excellent attractions. This Island is also known throughout the Caribbean for its night life. There is something here to suit everyone. This is much more than a beautiful tropic Island. The evening ritually begins at sunset, when cafes and nightclubs open their doors and the restaurant kitchens spring into action. The festive spirit of the Island peaks during Carnival a vibrant, two-week festival of feasting, street dancing, parties, and parades. Sint Maarten/St. Martin's dependable trade winds free the island from oppressive heat and in the shade it is never too hot. It is almost always sunny. The beaches are restful or lively, according to choice, some are quite secluded. There is a nude beach for the naturists, but more importantly for many people there are beaches where dress is optional and ladies may go topless and no one cares either way. Offshore the Caribbean's azure waters provide superb boating and fishing as well as excellent diving and all manner of watersports. All these offerings have made the condominium a famous tropical destination, and the island has much to offer in every way Because of its excellent climate and its location in the middle of all the Americas together with its international polyglot populace this island is not only a perfect holiday destination. It must also be examined as one of the best situations from which to conduct international finance and trade. The already excellent communications are constantly improving and a quick look at the map shows how central the Island is to the whole World. 
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