Economy of Saint Martin
|Economy of Saint Martin|
|Currency||Euro (EUR) in French part; Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG) in Dutch part|
|Windward Islands Federation of Labour|
|GDP||$1.394 billion ($794.7 million Sint Maarten/$599 million Saint Martin)
(2008 est, nominal)
|1.6% (2008 est.)|
GDP per capita
|$15,400 (2008 est.)|
GDP by sector
|agriculture: 1%; industry: 15%; services: 84% (2009 est.)|
|0.7% (2009 est.)|
|~45,000 (23,200 in St.Maarten)'08|
Labour force by occupation
|agriculture: 1.2%; industry: 16.9; services: 83.7% (2006)|
|Unemployment||10.6% (2008 est.)|
|tourism, light industry, heavy industry |
Main export partners
|China 23.49% United States 10.91% Japan 5.92% (2009 est.)|
|foods, manufactured goods,|
Main import partners
|China 17.35% Japan 14.79% United States 8.96% Saudi Arabia 6.89% (2009 est.)|
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.
As an island in the Caribbean, Saint Martin enjoys the kind of weather and natural geography that supports tourism. Its proximity to the rest of the Caribbean has also provided economic benefits with the airport serving as the main gateway to the Leeward Islands and the larger post-Panamax cruise ships making regular stops to the island. For more than two centuries, exports have generally been locally grown commodities, like sugar.
The island offers duty-free shopping. There are few business restrictions to hinder growth. Though the French (north) and Dutch (south) parts differ slightly in terms of their economies and types of tourists, they share the Caribbean's largest lagoon, which has been populated by yachts.
With more than one million tourists arriving annually, tourism is by far the most important sector of the economy (85% of labor force). Agriculture makes up 1% of GDP. The island relies heavily on imports.
In the 1630s just after colonization by the Dutch, the Dutch East India Company started major salt mining operations on the island which in turn made the island more attractive to the Spanish (who wanted to control the salt trade, a fifteen-year war ensued). When the Spanish left in 1648, the Dutch and the French re-established their presence. By the late 17th century cotton, tobacco and sugar were cultivated on the island.
In Sint Maarten (the south), the official currency has been the Netherlands Antillean guilder since 1940, and the euro has not been adopted. It is expected that the Netherlands Antillean guilder will be replaced by the Caribbean guilder in 2013. Both the old and new guilders are pegged to the US dollar, and the US dollar is widely used in the south.
In the south (Netherlands), there are 37 beaches; in the north (French West Indies) beaches allow sunbathers to go topless (there is also the clothing optional Orient Beach). At the border between the French and Dutch territories is the Caribbean's largest lagoon, Simpson Bay, which attracts tourists with yachts.
The south is known for its casinos, exotic drinks, jewelry and nightlife while the north is better known for its beaches, shopping and restaurants. St. Martin is also a major destination for cruise ships (including the larger Post-Panamax ships).
Winair [Windward Island Airways], one of the largest regional airlines in the Caribbean, is headquartered in Sint Maarten. The Princess Juliana International Airport, which is the main gateway to other Leeward Islands, handled 1.65 million passengers in 2007.
On November 2, 2006, the Dutch government set aside 65 million guilders to pay off St. Maarten's debts. The Dutch portion of the island became a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 2010. While this was beneficial in some ways, the decision has shifted more responsibilities over to the island and with those, more debt.
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