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SXM Sint-Maarten: One Island, Two Countries

Some history about Sint-Maarten

Why is SXM split into two countries ?


© Credit source : Canva

The Dutch took control of the southern part of the island (now known as Sint Maarten) and the French took control of the northern part (now known as Saint-Martin).

This division was formalized in the Treaty of Concordia, which established the border between the two countries and set out both their rights and obligations. Over the years, each side of the island has developed its own distinct culture, economy and political system, although they have also maintained close economic and cultural ties.

Today, Saint Martin is a unique and multifaceted island, with a rich history and a mix of Dutch, French, and Caribbean influences.

Despite being two separate countries, the Dutch and French sides of the island are closely interconnected and work together to promote tourism in and economic development.

St Maarten / St Martin, two of everything

The Dutch side of the island is known for its lively atmosphere and bustling capital city, Philipsburg. Here, visitors can find a variety of shopping and restaurant dining options, as well as casinos, bars and a bustling nightlife.

The French side is more relaxed and low-key, with a focus on natural beauty and a slower pace of life. Exploring the island by car is a must-do, with car rental options like Europcar offering short and long-term rentals.

Each side of the island uses a different currency, on the French side, Euro is the main currency whereas on the Dutch side, is the Antillean guilder, however the US Dollar is widely accepted everywhere on the island.

Carnival is an integral part of the culture, so much so that it’s a public holiday. One other plus is that there are two carnival celebrations across the island, on the French side, the carnival takes place just before lent, on the Dutch side, it starts in mid-April and finishes in early May.

2 Official Languages

The Dutch side is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while the French side is an overseas collectivity of France.

The official language in the Dutch part of the island is Dutch, while the official language of the French side is French. However, English is widely spoken on both sides.

2 Culture on the same territory

The Dutch have a more diverse and cosmopolitan culture on the island, influenced by their history as a major port and tourism destination.

The French on the other hand, have a more traditional culture, with a strong focus on nature and the outdoors.

The island’s history has seen a mix of cultures and influences, resulting in a unique blend of traditions and customs.


Source : Children Parade Saint Martin Carnival

Credit Photo : Donovane Tremor

2 Different Landscape

The Dutch side has a larger population and more urban areas, with a more level terrain. The French landscape has more natural areas, with a smaller population and more bumpy terrain. However, wherever you will be you will find beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife.


Source : Baie Rouge

Credit photo : @TheoDemanezDJI

The Dutch side is home to popular spots like Mullet Bay and Simpson Bay Beach, while the French side boasts serene stretches of sand like Baie Nettle and Orient Bay. The clear turquoise waters and soft white sands make these beaches the perfect place to relax and soak up the sun.

Two Economy and Lifestyle

The Dutch economy is driven by tourism, trade, and financial services. The French side economy is more focused on agriculture and light industry. 

Lifestyle : The Dutch side is known for its lively atmosphere and bustling capital city, Philipsburg.

The French side is more relaxed and quiet, with a slower pace of life and enjoyment, as shown by its main town Marigot.


Source : Welcome to Marigot

Credit photo : @lilysnotanartist

Rent a car to visit Saint Martin / Sint Maarten

St. Martin and Sint Maarten are two distinct cultures that coexist on the same Caribbean island. A rental car is the best way to discover this paradise and explore its incredible mix of French and Dutch history.

With a rental car in SXM, you can visit both sides of the island, discover hidden gems, relax on beautiful beaches or visit bustling markets.

You'll not only have a unique moment but an unforgettable experience that no other Caribbean vacation can offer. A perfect opportunity to explore two worlds in one !

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