About Sint Maarten
Geography of Sint Maarten
Sint Maarten is situated in the center of the West Indian arch, in the northern region of the Lesser Antilles. It is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The island is small, 15 km long and 13 km wide, its surface is mountainous yet calcareous, and is separated into two distinct parts: Terres Basses and Grande Terre, which are linked by two narrow strips of land enclosing the salty lake of Simpson Bay (also referred to as “the lagoon”). The island’s highest point is Pic Paradis (424m) located on French Sint Martin. The coastline is a series of beaches, coastal lagoons, rocky areas and mangroves, and the interior is characterized by many valleys, most of which are rather flat. Two uninhabited islands: Tintamarre and Pinel can be perceived off the east coast of French Sint Martin. With a population of 33,609 on an area of 34 km2 (13 sq mi), it encompasses the southern 40% of the divided island of Saint Martin, while the northern 60% of the island constitutes the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Martin. Sint Maarten's capital is Philipsburg.
In Sint Maarten the language that is widely spoken in English. The official languages of the former islands of the Netherlands Antilles are Dutch, English and Papiamento.
The currency union of Sint Maarten has important strengths, including a high level of development, good infrastructure, and relatively low public debt. However, preserving these going forward will require surmounting some critical challenges. GDP per capita is already at high-income country levels, but the islands must combat lacklustre growth and high unemployment levels by addressing weak competitiveness and improving the investment environment.
Challenges and Policy Issues
The prevailing challenges for Sint Maarten center on the constitutional and regulatory framework of the country since the constitutional reform of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the 10th of October 2010, Sint Maarten is an autonomous entity within the Kingdom. With its new country status Sint Maarten enjoys a high degree of internal autonomy within the Dutch Kingdom.
The role of the Netherlands is limited to defence, foreign affairs and the court of appeal in The Hague. However, its unique constitutional arrangement means that Sint Maarten must now assume responsibility for its development.
The main policy issues include:
- Economic diversification from reliance on tourism
- Fiscal reform and the need to find “new” revenues
- Poverty alleviation
- Creating social safety nets
- Creation of jobs
- Community development especially in housing
- Infrastructural development
- Legislative focus
- Labour and Immigration reform