History of St. Martin
The dual Island of St. Martin/ St. Maarten was discovered and named by none other than Christopher Columbus in the year 1493. Columbus never set foot on the island, but while sailing by, decided to name it after the Saint’s feast day, St. Martin of Tours. This small, but beautiful island never saw any colonization from the Spanish, however the French were eager to inhabit. Not long after their arrival the Dutch started to settle on the opposite side of the island and eventually took over a significant portion of the land. The first civilization built by the French was the Quartier d’Orleans, which was followed by the Dutch establishment of Fort Amsterdam. After multiple invasions from the Spanish, there were constant battles between the two main powers on the island. The French and Dutch were in a constant struggle for control.
In 1648 a treaty was signed between the two countries and the island was split in half, the French side of St. Martin and the Dutch side of St. Maarten. The French claimed the north side of the island, while the Dutch were in control of the south. Both sides of the island kept their distance and reportedly changed the boundary lines over 16 times, but eventually they began to grow in peace.
The French developed their portion of the land with a sense of relaxed sophistication and secluded feel, while the Dutch maintained a more fast paced and vibrant lifestyle. Both sides of the island relied heavily on salt production and flourished with their abundance of plantation crops such as cocoa, sugar, coffee and cotton. The dominant trading partners with St. Martin at this time were the United States and Europe, both of which had a heavy demand for all plantation products. This led to a need for slaves, so when slavery was abolished in 1848 the Island’s economy suffered greatly.
It wasn’t until many years later in 1943, when the first major airport was constructed that the economy began to pick back up and tourism really hit St. Martin. People were traveling from all over the world to experience the white sandy beaches and explore the beauty of the island.
Today St. Martin continues to prosper because of its exotic charm and diverse culture. It is now home to some of the most beautiful vacation villas in the Caribbean. Although the island is still split by nationality, it has double the excitement and activities to offer. Whether you are traveling to the French side of the island or the Dutch, your stay will be equally remarkable.
St. Martin General Information and Villa Rentals