With an area of only 37 square miles, the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin is the smallest land mass in the world to be divided between two governments. Its dual owners are the Dutch and the French, who have shared the tiny and paradisical island more or less peacefully for almost 350 years. This understated absence of conflict testifies to one of the island’s most precious and attractive characteristics—its unusual serenity.
Situated about 150 miles east of Puerto Rico, Dutch St. Maarten (the French spell it St. Martin) covers 16 square miles of the southern part of the island, an area marked by verdant, rolling hills that languidly rest above mile after mile of beach, salt pond, and lagoon. Although the region falls under the government of Netherlands Antilles and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, its diversity and the strong influence of West-Indian traditions make its culture, anything but exclusively Dutch. St. Maarten’s atmosphere is a winning blend of Caribbean hospitality and European sophistication.