The Friendly Island
Another day passing, and onto another island in this cruise through the Eastern Caribbean islands right after the previous base at Saint Kitts and Nevis. This time onto the smallest of the islands we would visit in the trip, Sint Maarten, and even considering such a small piece of land, yet divided in two, the French and the Dutch sides. The Dutch in this case, the part we would visit, which is nevertheless, the one that houses the main international airport and the cruise terminal.
Discovered in 1493 on the second voyage of Christopher Columbus, and named as such as it was Saint Martin’s day when was first sighted, 11th of November. While claimed to the Crown of Spain as a territory, it was never settled and was a low priority. Instead the Dutch and the French saw it as a key location among their other territories in the Caribbean and North America who made it very profitable mining salt, moment in which the Spanish saw again an interest and captured it from the Dutch for 15 years, losing again interest and completely abandoning it in 1648.
The French and the Dutch returned, and although there was never a war between them two, the borders shifted dozens of times over the next 200 years. Still, it was a very pacific agreement that lasts ever since. And while at first it was all about slavery, with the abolition and the following decades, both sides turned into heavy tourism dedication; the principal economy is the island. (more…)