The best-known city of this island is Philipsburg, which is also the capital of Sint Maarten. Having just over 1300 residents it has a unique feel. Everyone considers that a decent holiday location must be a city with millions of residents, but Philipsburg proved the exact opposite. You may think it’s logical because anyway you won’t meet more than some dozens of people while on holiday.
The city was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, but until 1763 it was just an Arawak settlement. In that year a Scottish captain, John Philips, founded the city, while on duty in the Dutch navy. Even before the 18th century, the importance of this city and island was realized. Two fortresses were built to defend this capital of international trade. Both of these fortresses are popular tourist attractions these days. Only a few of the original walls are still standing in Fort Amsterdam, but from the specially arranged site, opens an amazing view of the modern city. The British built Fort Willem in the first years of the 19th century. Unfortunately only a few walls of this bastion are standing, just like in the case of Fort Amsterdam. Because of its location, the neighboring island can be seen.
In spite of the fact that the official currency is the Antillean guilder, the US dollar is accepted in many shops and restaurants all over the city. This proves that it is a true international city and that the locals are open-minded. Another proof of its economical stability is that Netherlands plans to make Sint Marteen a separate country just like Aruba and the West Indies are today. At the 2007 island council elections, six parties concurred for the votes. As a result, two parties obtained enough votes to name councilors. These two parties combined got over 90% of the total votes. This is just another fact that demonstrates that the island is capable of standing on foot by itself.
It is possible that you have already heard about Saint Martin, but it is not the same territory. The island area of Sint Marteen is a part of it, just like Collectivity of St. Martin. The last one occupies the northern half of the tropical island and is an overseas collectivity of France. Since Treaty of Concordia in 1648, a border separates these two.
Numerous urban legends were born to explain how the borderline was decided where to be. The most popular is the one with each nation’s favorite drink. Each nation selected a representative who was sent in one of the two vertical extremes of the island. These two were told to walk to the other part of the island and running was not allowed. Where these two met became the frontier. The fact that the French part is larger than the Dutch part is considered to be because the French representative drank wine, while the Dutch drank beer. It is claimed that the wine’s restoration effect made the French walk faster. This legend is often presented to tourists in a longer form by the olds of the city.
Today both sides are characterized by a tourist-focused economy. While the Dutch side is considered to have a vibrant nightlife, large beaches, shinny jewelry, native rum-based cocktails and casinos, the French side is known because of its nude beaches, Paris-styled shopping streets and rich cuisine, just like any important city in France.
Because of the large number of visitors who come to the city and to the island, generally several hotels, villas and timeshares were built. Some of these are available for rent and sale also. Word class hotels having up 200 rooms, are located on the beach and surrounded by many upscale shops. Anyone can find what he is looking for: from private villas featuring private beaches for rent to moderately priced hotel rooms.
Because of the large number of tourists and the duty tax-free many shops opened in Philipsburg in recent years. It didn’t took long to become a “shopper’s paradise”. Today majority of visitors come to the city with a clear goal: when leaving the city buy as many things as they can carry. Of course, the shops offer anything from local handcrafted statues and souvenirs, many kinds of jewelry or liquor and tobacco to famous designer goods. Because the duty tax isn’t added some products of famous design houses, like Chanel, Prada or Versace, are with up 40% cheaper than in the US.
While in Philipsburg tourists shouldn’t miss to visit the Philipsburg Historical Museum, the zoo presenting wildlife of the Caribbean area or the Air LekkerBeck. Those who don’t mind the noise and a small amount of risk will surely enjoy the land of a Jumbo Jet while being on the Maho Beach. This beach is one of the very few places where you can be this close to a landing airplane.
It doesn’t matter if you are looking for old historical sights or just a place with nightclubs and bars to spend your night after a long day at the beach Philipsburg, as the whole of Sint Marteen offers you both in a unique Caribbean suit.