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The culture of St. Martin is a blend of its African, French, British, and Dutch heritage. Although St. Martin is a single island, it contains two separate nations: Saint-Martin, a French overseas collectivity; and Sint Maarten, part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Although each side's culture is influenced by their respective administering countries, they share enough similar heritage and traditions that it can be difficult to tell where Saint-Martin ends and Sint Maarten begins.

The native Creole population can trace most of their roots to Africa, France, the Netherlands and the British Isles. Only some stones remain from the ruins of the two forts built by the Spanish occupation in its early take over. But during the colonial period, the British settlers and several military dominations left their idiom as the main language spoken on the island, and have made a large impact on St. Martin's culture.

Nowadays, due to a major influx of immigrants searching for better employment and living conditions, over the past twenty years the number of Creoles has been surpassed by the number of immigrants. Today, the island's population of 77,000 is highly diverse, containing people from more than 70 different countries.

With so many different nationalities present, quite a few languages are spoken. An English-based creole is the main local vernacular.[1] However, the official languages are French for Saint-Martin, with Dutch and English being official for Sint Maarten. Other common languages include various French creoles (spoken by French Caribbean immigrants), Spanish (spoken by immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and various South American countries), and Papiamento (spoken by immigrants from Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao).[2]

In French Saint-Martin, the most popular religion is Roman Catholicism. Dutch Sint Maarten favors Protestant denominations, particularly Methodism. The island also has small Jewish and Seventh-day Adventist communities.

Perhaps in part due to French influences, the whole island is known for its excellent cuisine. Creole, French, and West Indian cooking are particularly renowned. Chefs trained in Europe elevate restaurant cuisine to gourmet level. Of course, with the diverse nationalities, plenty of international fare is cooked up.

Popular music on St. Martin includes a variety of styles beloved throughout the Caribbean. Calypso, merengue, soca, zouk, and reggae all contribute to the festive culture.

Leading cultural artistsEdit

  • Isidore "Mighty Dow" York, kaisonian, panman
  • Roland Richardson, Impressionist painter
  • Nicole de Weever, dancer, broadway star
  • Lasana M. Sekou, poet, author, independence advocate
  • Youth Waves, music band
  • Clara Reyes, choreographer
  • Ruby Bute, painter
  • King Timo, kaisonian
  • Drisana Deborah Jack, artist, poet
  • Tanny and The Boys, string band music group

An annual yacht race called Sint Maarten Heineken Regatta is also held on around March; and April . Martin Book Fair is held during the first weekend of June.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Holm (1989) Pidgins and Creoles, vol. 2
  2. ^ Culture of St. Maarten Archived 2006-12-06 at the Wayback Machine. St. Maarten Tourism Office.

Further readingEdit

  • Arindel, Rhoda. Language, Culture, and Identity in St.Martin. House of Nehesi Publishers, 2014. ISBN 9780988825222.
  • Bardejo, Fabian Adekunle. Salted Tongues – Modern Literature in St.Martin. House of Nehesi Publishers, 2003. ISBN 0-913441-62-7.
  • Houston, Lynn Marie (2005). Food Culture in the Caribbean. Greenwood Press, 2005. ISBN 0-313-32764-5.
  • Hyman, Yvette. From Yvette's Kitchen to Your Table – A Treasury of St. Martin's Traditional & Contemporary Cuisine. House of Nehesi Publishers, 2011. ISBN 978-0-913441-16-9.
  • Lake, Jr., Joseph. Friendly Anger – The Rise of the Labor Movement in St. Martin. House of Nehesi Publishers, 2004. ISBN 0-913441-41-4.
  • Sekou, Lasana M. National Symbols of St. Martin – A Primer. House of Nehesi Publishers, 1997. ISBN 0-913441-30-9.
  • St. Martin Massive! A Snapshot of Popular Artists. House of Nehesi Publishers, 2000. ISBN 0-913441-43-0.
  • Voges, Mathias S. Cul-de-Sac People – A St. Martin Family Series. House of Nehesi Publishers, 2006. ISBN 0-913441-70-8.
  • Watts, David (1990). The West Indies: Patterns of Development, Culture, and Environmental Change Since 1492. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-38651-9.