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   Friday, October 31, 2014 

European Union France Guadeloupe St. Martin: Culture and History

Marigot is the capital of St. Martin, which is a French dependency. It is about 37 square miles and has a population of about 35,000 people. The temperature on this place is rather stable, varying about five degrees all year long. This stability is caused in large part by the northeasterly trade winds, which moderate the temperature throughout the year.

The towns in Martinique have a beguiling West Indian charm, which are combined with a distinctive French look. There are open markets which are Caribbean in looks which have bakeries that are, for the most part, rather French looking. It has many French cafes that are distinctly French looking style.

The peninsula has a number of beautiful beaches, seaside hotels and quite a few water-sports and operations such as Friar's Bay which has coral reefs that are well protected, and, which attract a number of divers to its location.

The capital, Marigot was once viewed as a sleepy fishing village but this place has now been awakened to tourism, and has made many changes by sprucing up its old lovely houses. It has built new restaurants, shops, boat slips, marinas, a waterfront promenade, a fabulous new market place and a pier for yachts.

St. Martin is unlike any other place in the Caribbean where its terrain is a pastoral green rather than the lush green, which is usually found in the rest of the region. The island rises towards its northern side and there are many forested heights in the center of the island, but most of the place is found rolling hills and hillocks.

The Arawak Indians were the first people to line in St. Martin about 490 A.D. These people left their original homeland in the Orinoco basin of South America and migrated northwards up along the chain of islands in the Caribbean. They called the island "Sualouiga" meaning "Land of Salt" because of the saltpans and brackish water they found there in great abundance. The few fresh water springs they found around Paradise Peak and Mount William could only support a small number of people, and these areas are where the majority of people congregated. The Arawaks were summarily supplanted by a more aggressive set of Indians, the Caribs.

It is alleged that the island was paced off back in 1648 and the French somehow outpaced the Dutch to gain a larger portion of the land. Christopher Columbus sighted the island in 1493 on his second voyage and named it St. Martin. Columbus never actually set foot on the island but rather claimed it for Spain as he was passing by. He sighted the island on November 11, 1493, the feast of St. Martin, hence the name that was how the name was given to it. The French and Dutch both settled on the island in the 1630s as the Dutch were seeking an outpost halfway between their colonies in Brazil and New York occupied the island in 1631. The Dutch West India Company installed Jan Claeszen van Campen as governor, and erected their first fort on the sit of Fort Amsterdam, and began to mine salt. The Spanish became aware of this incursion, recaptured the land in 1633 and expelled the Dutch who then moved to occupy Curacao.

St, Martin is a dependency of Guadeloupe, and in 1946, Guadeloupe became an Overseas Department of France, and in 1974, it became an Overseas Region of France.

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