(SINT MAARTEN) (Formerly: NETHERLANDS ANTILLES)

(WIPO Code: SX) (latest review February 2021)

by SOUALIGALAW TRADEMARK, Philipsburg

General Information

Location

In the north eastern part of the Caribbean Sea, between Anguilla and St. Barths, some 300 km (190 miles) east of Puerto Rico.

Area

34 sq. km (Dutch part of St. Maarten only).

Population

43,847 (estimated July 2020).

Capital

Philipsburg.

Languages

English (official), Spanish, Creole, Dutch (official), Papiamentu (official) and French.

Official currency

Antillean florin; the U.S. dollar is widely used.

Government

Unitary parliamentary representative democracy under constitutional monarchy.

Legal system

Based on the Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

General Remarks

As a result of the constitutional reform in 2010 of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the former Netherlands Antilles (NA) have ceased to exist on October 10, 2010.

The Netherlands Antilles comprised of the Windward Islands of Bonaire and Curaçao, the Leeward Islands Saba, St. Eustatius, and the southern part of St. Maarten (the northern part being part of France).

Under the new 2010 Charter of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao and St. Maarten became autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, whereas the island territories of Bonaire, St. Eustatius (“Statia”) and Saba, as public bodies, became overseas parts of the Netherlands and these three islands together are now referred to as the “BES Islands” or “Caribbean Netherlands”.

Only the Kingdom of the Netherlands can be considered a State. Only the Kingdom – not the individual autonomous countries or the public bodies – has international legal personality.

St. Maarten as an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands enjoys complete domestic autonomy, while foreign policy, foreign relations and national defense remain the prerogative of the Kingdom government seated in The Hague, The Netherlands.

The Supreme Court (“Hoge Raad”) of the Netherlands also functions as the Supreme Court of St. Maarten.

St. Maarten derives its national income mainly from cruise and stay over tourism. In 2015 St. Maarten catered to over 1.9 million cruise passengers from 683 port calls, while some 500,000 tourists stayed over.

The island has one of the busiest airports in the north eastern Caribbean region and is famous for its runway at Princess Juliana International Airport, in which landing aircrafts pass within less than 35 meters of Maho Beach below, due to the close proximity of the runway to the ocean. The planes appear to land dangerously close to beach goers. Therefore, this beach and airport has become a popular place for people to view airplane landings.

St. Maarten’s national carrier Winair serves 3 out of 10 of the most dangerous airports in the region being the Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport of Saba, the Gustav III Airport of St. Barths and Canefield Airport at Roseau, Dominica.

There is no physical border between the French and Dutch part of the island and people and goods can travel freely between the two parts.

St. Maarten has been severely hit by category 5 hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017. Much of its infrastructure was destroyed beyond repair. Together with the Netherlands who have allocated more than 500 million euros, St. Maarten is now working on its re-shaping as one of the best cruise and stay over destinations in the Caribbean.