Geography of St Martin / St Maarten


The island of St. Martin sits at the heart of the Antilles Archipelago in the Northern Hemisphere, between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator. More precisely, it lies towards the north of the Lesser Antilles, created when the Atlantic Plate slid under the Caribbean Plate to form the string of islands that includes St. Martin. Approximately 240km to the south east is the island of Guadeloupe. Saint Martin faces out towards the Atlantic on its eastern side and is washed by the waters of the Caribbean Sea on the west coast. With a total surface area of 88km², the island is 15km long and 13km wide at its longest and widest points. The island of St. Martin occupies a central position midway between Puerto Rico and Guadeloupe at the heart of the Caribbean Sea, and is the closest part of France to US shores. St. Martin is a three-and-a-half-hour flight from New York, a two-and-a-half-hour flight from Miami (Florida), an hour and a half away from Caracas (Venezuela), and 45 minutes from the islands of Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico. The island lies at around 7,000km and eight flight hours from Europe. Neighbouring islands include Anguilla, St Barts, Saba, Statia, Saint Kitts and Nevis. The highest hilltop is the Pic Paradis (424 metres (1,391 ft)) on center of a hill chain (French side). But both sides are hilly with large mountain peaks. This forms a valley were many houses are located. There are no rivers on the island, but many dry guts. Hiking trails give access to the dry forest covering tops and slopes.


Located in the northern part of the island, the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Martin has a total surface area of approximately 54km². The inhabitants are known as Saint Martiners. Most of the island’s built-up areas are situated in its low-lying zones along the coast. The capital city is Marigot, where the “Hôtel de la collectivité”, prefecture and most of the collectivity’s administrative buildings and services are located. Other towns and districts include Grand Case, Colombier, Cul-de-Sac, Quartier d’Orléans, Nettle Bay and Terres Basses.


The Dutch part of the island, Sint-Maarten, covers a total surface area of around 34km². The inhabitants are known as Sint Maartiners. Located in the southern section of the island, St. Maarten was part of the Netherlands Antilles, a group of five islands that included Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Statia and St. Maarten. On October 10th 2010 Sint Maarten became a country within the Dutch Kingdom. The Dutch government remains responsible for defence and international politics within this autonomous status. This change of status puts and end to the Netherland Antilles that were created in 1956. Sint Maarten’s capital is Philipsburg, where the Parliament and most administrative buildings and services can be found. Other towns include Simpson Bay, Madame Estate, Cul de Sac, Dutch Quarter, Cole Bay, Oyster Pond, South Reward, St Peters, Pointe Blanche, Middle Region, Cay Hill, Upper Prince’s Quarter and Lower Prince’s Quarter. Sint Maarten’s built-up areas are mainly concentrated in low-lying zones along the coast, but are starting to spread into the hilly areas inland.


There is no physical border between the French and Dutch territories and people and goods can travel freely between the two parts of the island. Longitude: 63.5° West / Latitude : 18.5° North Average elevation above sea level: 20 meters Highest point: Pic Paradis at 424 meters

Source: French Tourism Office