geography

Saint Martin-Saint Maarten

You’re planning a Caribbean vacation. Perhaps you want to find a destination that is close to an American territory (say, Puerto Rico), but not actually in the US. You choose Saint Martin. Or Saint Maarten… Which is it?

Saint Maarten (aka Sint Maarten) was formerly a Dutch island territory, but since 2010 has been recognized as one of the four constituent counties that form the Kingdom of the Netherlands – the other 3 counties are Aruba and Curacao in the Caribbean, as well as the Netherlands itself. Saint Maarten, as part of the Netherlands, is part of the EU, and so shares similar border controls and the Euro currency.

Saint Martin, on the other hand, is an “overseas collectivity” of France, and as such, is also part of the European Union.

Adding to the confusion for many travellers, Saint Martin (France) and Saint Maarten (Holland) both occupy the island of Saint Martin in the Caribbean. And, to make things even more and more confusing, until recently Saint Martin was part of the French overseas department of Guadeloupe, a collection of islands in the Caribbean. There’s also a Portuguese Guadalupe (note the slight change in spelling) in the Azores.

So it’s all a little confusing!

However, this writer likes Saint Martin (the French territory) the best. It has plenty of fine beaches and resorts, and is great for a family Caribbean vacation.

– Charles Edwards often blogs about Grand Case Beach Club, a St Martin beach resort

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