The Dutch Side capital Philipsburg of Caribbean island Sint Maarten

Is St. Maarten a US Territory?

Not a US Territory…


A frequently asked question is whether St. Maarten / St. Martin is a United States territory. It is not: the southern side of the island (St. Maarten) is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, whereas the northern half (St. Martin) constitutes a “Community Outre Mer” or overseas community of the republic of France.


Part of the confusion might arise from the facts that the island historically speaks English as its main language, the island is very popular amongst American tourists and thirdly western neighbors the United States Virgin Islands are not far away. The latter archipelago is a United States territory, contrary to St. Maarten / St. Martin.


But A Close Relationship With The US Nonetheless



That does not mean that there are no strong ties with the United States. For starters, Princess Juliana International Airport is a main gateway for the Northeastern Caribbean to many US hub airports and St. Maarten as well as St. Martin have a sizeable American minority. Many St. Maarteners pursue studies on US colleges. Diasporas of both sides of the island are well represented in the USA.


To take it one notch further: in theory,  (Dutch side) St. Maarten could have indeed become a US territory on two occasions. In 1917 Governor  and “Oudste Landsraad”, St. Maarten plantation owner Mr. D. J. van Romondt was so fed up with Dutch Governance, he wrote a letter to the United States government if its country could join this then relatively new republic. History repeated itself when local statesman Claude Wathey uttered the same in 1956.


Whereas this federation of St. Maarten with the United States might seem far fetched to many, note that the United States Virgin Islands became a US territory only in 1917 after it was sold to the Americans by Denmark. In both cases above, it would not have pertained a sale, but a voluntary joining. Since St. Maarten received autonomy status in 2010, the debate of joining the United States is not very active.


For those US history fans interested in visiting St. Maarten / St. Martin, consider to include a day trip to Statia (St. Eustatius) with Winair in your itinerary. This small volcanic island played a pivotal role in providing weapons to insurgents fighting the American Revolution and became the first location to recognize the United States as a sovereign nation by a famed “salute”. This fact was honored over time by visits of various US presidents, amongst which Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


If you have any more questions before traveling to St. Maarten / St. Martin for our dedicated page for more frequently asked questions.