Sint Maarten is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands located in the Caribbean. It occupies the southern one third of the island of Saint Martin, which it shares with the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Martin. Sint Maarten covers 34 sq km (13.1 sq mi) and has a population of 37,000 people (2012 estimate). The capital is Philipsburg while the largest city is Lower Prince's Quarter.
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The island of Saint Martin was first sighted by Christopher Columbus in 1493, during his second voyage to the New World. He named is Isla de San Martín after Saint Martin of Tours, as it was discovered on 11 November, the feast day of that saint. Although he claimed it for Spain, he did not land there, and Spain itself regarded it as a settlement of low priority.
On the other hand, both the French and the Dutch want the island, each for its own reason. In 1631, the Dutch established a settlement there and constructed Fort Amsterdam. Soon the Dutch was trading salt from this base. It attracted the French and the British to also established colonies on Saint Martin. All these attention paid to it made the Spanish regret their having neglected the island, and in 1633 they attempted to wrest Saint Martin from the Dutch. They managed to oust the Dutch settlers from the island and proceeded to build a fort to maintain their hold.
After taking hold of Saint Martin by force, the Spanish found that it was not a profitable destination, and once again they lost interest in the island. They eventually deserted it in 1648.
As soon as the Spanish left, the Dutch and the French once again reestablished their respective colonies, the Dutch with settlers from Sint Eustatius while the French with settlers from St Kitts.
Initially there was much hostility between the two sides, but as they realize neither side could oust the other, and preferring to avoid an all-out war with neither could afford, the Dutch and the French signed the Treaty of Concordia in 1648, dividing Saint Martin between them. During the negotiation, the French deliberately stationed a fleet of battle ships off shore. This enabled them to bargain for more land.
Although Sint Maarten and Saint Martin today co-exist peacefully, there had been a number of skirmishes in the past, despite the treaty. As a result, the border dividing the Dutch and French sectors have changed as many as sixteen times.
The Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) is the main airport serving both Sint Maarten and Saint Martin. Located on the Dutch side, it was named after Queen Juliana in 1944 when she was still crown princess. It receives flights from Amsterdam, Antigua, Aruba, Atlanta, Barbados, Bonaire, Boston, Charlotte, Curaçao, Dominica, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New York-JFK, Newark, Panama City, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly, Philadelphia, Port-au-Prince, Saba, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Croix, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia, San Juan, Santo Domingo-Las Américas, Sint Eustatius, Toronto, Tortola, Washington-Dulles.