The smallest island in the world shared by two sovereign powers, St. Maarten/St. Martin enjoys the perfect blend of two European cultures with the beauty of the Caribbean paradise. The island of St. Maarten also boasts an intriguing historical background. Christopher Columbus discovered it in 1493, on the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, and in the 140 years that followed, it changed flags many times.

The Spanish, French, Dutch, and English have all claimed possession. In 1648, a treaty divided the island in two; the Dutch received 16 square miles and the French, due to superior naval presence at the time, received 21. Today, the cosmopolitan inhabitants of this friendly island are proud of their over 350-year coexistence and, as if to prove a point, have never constructed an official border between the island’s two counties.

There are historic forts to see and architectural gems to photograph. Indians, pirates, smugglers, slaves, soldiers, merchants, and mariners have all left their mark here. And rumors of buried treasure still persist. Be that as it may, the island is certainly a treasure trove of history.


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