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St Maarten Geography


Part of the Northern Archipelago, the island of St Maarten/St Martin covers an area of 37 mi² (87 square km²). The French side of St Martin covers an area of 21 mi² while the Dutch terrain is 16 mi² wide. The Atlantic Ocean lies to the isle's East, to the West is the Caribbean Sea. The island is located at 144 miles (300 km) southeast of Puerto Rico, in the Leeward Islands of the West Indies i.e. in the middle of the Northern Caribbean islands. St Maarten/ St Martin is the smallest inhabited sea island in the world.

Even though a tropical island, St Maarten/St Martin has never boasted of lush green foliage. This is primarily because the land lacks major rivers and receives scanty rainfall. St Maarten is volcanic and has several mountains, the tallest being Pic Paradis (424 m/1400 ft) right in the middle of a hill chain in French territory. The hill and the mountain slopes feature dry forest covering. The partition between the French and Dutch sides is imperceptible and does not boast any geographical peculiarity. The southern Dutch half comprises the Eilandgebied St Maarten (Island area of St Martin) and is part of the Netherlands Antilles.

St Maarten's popularity stems from its extensive white beaches and azure waters along the coast. Geographically, the islet is divided into Grande-Terre and Terres-Basses (Lowlands) that are bridged by narrow land strips around the ‘Etang' - the salt-water pond in Simsonbay. Most of the Maartenian village settlements – Marigot, Grand Case, Philipsburg and Simsonbaai – are on the beaches, near the salt-water pans; the sole village in the interior being Colombier. Aside from the coastal belt, the rest of the island is largely uninhabited.

The average yearly air temperature is 27°C (min. 17°C, max. 35°C) and sea surface temperature 26.4°C. The total average yearly rainfall is 995 mm, with 99 days of thunder.


Location : Caribbean, located in the Leeward Islands (northern) group; Dutch part of the island of St Martin in the Caribbean Sea; St Maarten lies east of the US Virgin Islands
Geographic coordinates : 18 4 N, 63 4 W
Map references

: Central America and the Caribbean

: total: 34 sq km
land: 34 sq km
water: 0 sq km
note: Dutch part of the island of St Martin
Area - comparative : Slightly bigger than Macau or one-fifth the size of Washington DC
Land boundaries : total: 15 km
border countries: St Martin (France) 15 km

Coastline : 364 km
Maritime claims
: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm
Climate : tropical marine climate, ameliorated by northeast trade winds, results in moderate temperatures; average rainfall of 1500 mm/year; July-November is the hurricane season
Terrain : low, hilly terrain, volcanic origin
Elevation extremes
: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Mount Flagstaff 386 m
Natural resources

: fish, salt
Land use : arable land: 10%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 90%
Irrigated land : NA
Natural hazards
: subject to hurricanes from July to November
Environment - current issues
: NA
Geography - note : the northern border is shared with the French overseas collectivity of St Martin; together, these two entities make up the smallest landmass in the world shared by two self-governing states




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