Title: The Collectivity of Saint-Martin

Population: 32,680

Population Change: 1.75

National Average Age:

Urban Percentage: 0

Christian Population: 0

Christian Percentage:

Introduction: 'Saint Martin is part of the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean Sea. It comprises 2 separate countries divided between its northern French side called Saint-Martin and its southern Dutch side Sint Maarten. The island is home to busy resort beaches and secluded coves. It''s also known for fusion cuisine vibrant nightlife and duty-free shops selling jewelry and liquor.'

Overview: Although sighted by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1493 and claimed for Spain it was the Dutch who occupied the island in 1631 and set about exploiting its salt deposits. The Spanish retook the island in 1633 but continued to be harassed by the Dutch. The Spanish finally relinquished Saint Martin to the French and Dutch who divided it between themselves in 1648. Friction between the two sides caused the border to frequently fluctuate over the next two centuries with the French eventually holding the greater portion of the island (about 57%). The cultivation of sugar cane introduced African slavery to the island in the late 18th century; the practice was not abolished until 1848. The island became a free port in 1939; the tourism industry was dramatically expanded during the 1970s and 1980s. In 2003 the populace of Saint Martin voted to secede from Guadeloupe and in 2007 the northern portion of the island became a French overseas collectivity. In 2010 the southern Dutch portion of the island became the independent nation of Sint Maarten within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.