The West Indies Caribbean Contribution of Two Countries with One name

The West Indies today has a beautiful island amongst its many that sit in the Caribbean Sea. The Island is in the heart of the Antilles Archipelago in the northern Hemisphere between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator. Mainly this island exist between South America enroute to North America, an attraction to early colony settlers. St. Maarten and St. Martin, sit about 16 square miles and 21 square miles respectively. What makes this island, similarly named, St. Martin, an attraction is its people, culture, beaches, wonderful scenery and uniqueness.

St Maarten and St. Martin occupy the same island. Its settlers and their many years of territorial wars separate this island. Simply separated by a bridge, this island has strong historical changes. Finally, the Dutch took over St. Maarten mid 1600s and the French took over St. Martin later, after struggling with the Spaniards who left with no longer an intention or purpose for occupying the land. The two sides speak differing languages. The Dutch side, accordingly, speaks Dutch and more English. The French side, from France, French and less often English. Separated by a bridge and the “law”. The two areas have few sparing differences for this 37-mile radius island. The Dutch began to settle in 1631 in Sint Maarten where salt mining operations were an attraction. The Dutch continued to fight waged wars for the land.

The Treaty of Concordia of 1648 is what divides the island, which fought for years between the Spaniards, British, French and the Dutch for this pivotal island that aided colonist with protection and building wealth as they exploration conquest continued. The Treaty of Concordia was sought so that all the people of St. Martin should co exist in a cooperative manner. The borders of the island were finally set between the French Kingdom and Dutch Republic in 1817. (provide citation)Most of these territorial activities occurred during the Georgian Era of 1714 to 1830.

Leaving a radical racially mixed environment. The nationalities that inhibit the island are Spanish, Black, and European, majority. Currently, the island has 140 differing nationalities stemming from its immigration to its developing company hubs. From Creole to French the languages and the people inhibit the land sharing each other’s culture and foods, yet not its governments.
*The French and Dutch imported massive numbers of slaves to work on cotton, tobacco and sugar plantations. “The Slave population quickly grew larger than that of the land owners. Subjected to cruel treatment, slaves staged rebellions, and the slaves overwhelming made them impossible to ignore. July 12 1848, the French abolished slavery on their side of St. Martin. The Dutch followed suit a whooping 15 years later.” (citation) Making for a very densely populated Black (African descents) Caribbean culture. As mentioned the immigration of many other nationalities has lead to the increase of other cultural influences on the island.

The commonality of the people, and the culture the food, such as rich BBQ pork and BBQ chicken, cater to the tourist appetites. As well as hardly not lost Lobster. For the island natives, Its natural food is typically home styled cooked. Few people eat outside of the house. Many natives pride themselves on cooking and eating at home because it’s routine to come and fest as family. The history of the two St. Martins is very different and the people of this island are still building bridges between the two, its shared culture and relationships. The food remains the stable part of what is similar such as socio economical class for the most part.

At the last census, the population of the island neared 70,000 to 80,000 people.
The French are mostly Europeans coming from France, the Dutch, aristocratic, from Holland. The French and the Dutch sides are seen as two very differing areas as their cultures are that of French and the other Dutch to each other, to the outside looking in strong . Speaking the languages aren’t the only differences. The development of the French side differs from that of the Dutch Side, St. Maarten. The airport, SXM, integrates the two locations for travelers to and from the island if not by boat.

Currently, Tourism is the major industry of revenue on the island. Is is the commodity of service. the Dutch began focusing on the tourism in the 50’s as a way to generate revenue for the island. As can be attested the islanders take great pride in their hospitality. Natasha, 32, Food worker in St. Maarten from Surinanme immigrated to the dutch side of the island 23 years ago. She is proud and very compassion about her island. She shares her thoughts on what the differences are regarding this island that shares a border. “This beautiful island is the only place anywhere on earth that shares this grand characteristic of a shared border. Making St. Maarten/St. Martin extremely unique.”

To stay afloat and provide, the people of St. Maarten pride themselves on tourism and their hospitality. In a good week, 7 cruise ships will embark in the area, a month like November. Come December 8 ships embark. In a slow season 5 ships. The people depend on the tourist to support their economy.

Most of their foods are imported from the spices to its vegetation. The French and the Dutch both care the same culture and value when it comes to food, the differing factors are the government. The French side being more developed has better hospital care as well. The French also have government controlled rent and can be considered extremely cheap for the value. The French use the Euro, the Dutch typically use the Dollar and the Standard. Similar to that of neighboring Anguilla which has a population of 15,00 strives off of tourism these days and has no main stream movie theatres, no fast food places, no large ships docking, very island like lifestyle. A 45-minute ferry from St. Martin will get you to the neighboring island. The lsland is very relaxed and the people take great pride in its visitors experiencing the true living of this West Indies Island.


Natasha Proper, 32, St. Maarten native via Skype
Treaty of Concordia,


One thought on “The West Indies Caribbean Contribution of Two Countries with One name

  1. I enjoyed your post about The West Indies. I think that the history provided indicates that St. Maarten and St. Martin was a point of interest for The Dutch, Spanish, and French. As I wrote my topic on Salt Mining, I’m interested to know that the Dutch had that interest while settling Saint Martin in 1631. More interestingly, active wars were fought for this land. 

    I also find it interesting that The Treaty of Concordia of 1648 was reached. This is indicative to me that since all parties shared interests, none had enough power to beat the other interests.

    The concept of a forced diversification is on display in The West Indies. Unfortunately, I think it is a display of human nature at work. While there is a cultural melting pot due to the foreign influence, there is still a cultural hierarchy system that exists. Other than colonization, I can’t think of a more prime example of how racial diversification amongst a common land leads to a “group mentality” and common conflict.

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