Sunday, the 10th of October 2010 was a historic date for our tiny 37 square-mile Caribbean island: the southern part, called the 'Dutch Side', became an independent nation within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The capital Philipsburg was full of celebrations on Saturday night and Sunday; at the historic courthouse in the town's center, the flag of the Netherlands Antilles was lowered for a final time and the flag of Country Sint Maarten proudly raised. The new government celebrated the event together with the electorate and dignitaries from neighboring islands and representatives of the Netherlands and France.

 

Historic Day for Sint Maarten

In previous decades, Sint Maarten has been part of the Netherlands Antilles, a nation combining the islands of Curacao, Bonaire, St. Eustatius (Statia), Saba and Sint Maarten into one political entity with a central government on Curacao. The Netherlands Antilles as a nation have been dissolved; Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba received a status similar to a Dutch municipality, while Sint Maarten and Curacao became independent countries.

St. Maarten's leaders believe that the island's bustling economy will create more benefits for residents and visitors, if the available tax revenue stays with the territory. Previously, funds were transferred to the much larger Curacao and only a fraction was returned to administer and maintain St. Maarten.