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Saint Martin:
Geography

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Saint Martin Page


Background
Definition
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 St. Martin to the French and Dutch, who divided it amongst themselves in 1648. The cultivation of sugar cane introduced 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 St. Martin voted to secede from Guadeloupe and in 2007, the northern portion of the island became a French overseas collectivity.
Location
Definition
island 300 km southeast of Puerto Rico
Geographic coordinates
Definition
18 05 N, 63 57 W
Map references
Definition
Central America and the Caribbean
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 54.4 sq km
land: 54.4 sq km
water: NEGL
Area - comparative
Definition
more than one-third the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 15 km
border countries: Netherlands Antilles (Sint Maarten) 15 km
Coastline
Definition
58.9 km (for entire island)
Climate
Definition
temperature averages 80-85 degrees all year long; low humidity, gentle trade winds, brief, intense rain showers; July-Novemeber is the hurricane season
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Caribbean Ocean 0 m
highest point: Pic du Paradis 424 m
Natural resources
Definition
salt
Environment - current issues
Definition
fresh water supply is dependent on desalinization of sea water
Geography - note
Definition
the island of Saint Martin is the smallest landmass in the world shared by two independent states, the French territory of Saint Martin and the Dutch territory of Sint Maarten


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