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Originally populated by Kalinago Caribs, Columbus sighted the island in 1493, claiming it as Spanish territory. The Dutch were first to found a settlement in 1631 and the Dutch East India Company began salt mining. Meanwhile the French and British also established settlements.
Spanish forces captured it in 1633 but deserted soon after before Dutch and French colonists returned and in 1648 signed the Treaty of Concordia, dividing the island. By 1816 conflicts between the colonists had moved the border 16 times. Both groups imported slaves and only in 1863 was slavery fully abolished.
Sint Maarten became part of the island territory of the Windward Islands, together with Saba and Sint Eustatius. It was converted to an island territory of the Netherlands Antilles in 1983 and then became a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 2010.
After the abolition of slavery agricultural activity had declined. The Dutch side of the island began focusing on tourism as far back as the 1950s to support its economy. It was seriously damaged by hurricane Irma in 2017.
The island of Saint Martin comprises limestones and volcanics extruded in the Caribbean island arc. The highest point is Pic Paradis at 424 m in the centre of a line of hills on the French side but both sides have a number of peaks.
This geology is not suitable for the generation and accumulation of commercial volumes of oil and gas. Thus Sint Maarten has no identified indigenous oil or gas resources, either onshore or offshore.
Globalshift believes it is unlikely to achieve any production in the future. No exploration wells have ever been drilled in the territory.
Map and National Flag
Land area (sq kms)
Oil prod (000s b/d)
Gas prod (bcm/yr)
Oil cons (000s b/d)
Gas cons (bcm/yr)
Sint Maarten has an island council with 15 elected seats. The Governor is appointed by the Council of Ministers of the Netherlands.
Unlike the French side it is not part of the EU or Eurozone.
There is no local government department specifically responsible for oil and gas resources.
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