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History

A brief trip into the past.

Let’s go back about 2000 BC, just after the last ice-age. Our island was primarily inhabited by Amerindians, until 550 BC when the Arawak Indians arived and took over.
They changed the islands name to “Oualichi”, (the island of women), and bought with then knowledge od the stars, of the plants, and navigation skills. They were very similar to the Mayar civilization.

It wasn’t until the 14th century, when the tranquility of the island was shatterd. The Caribs were more savage, killing the Arawak men and putting their women into slavery. They renamed the island, “Soualiga”, or the island of salt.

The famous Spaniard, Christopher Columbus, on his third trip to the Caribbean, "discovered" our island anew and named it after the saints day "Saint Martin". It was november 11th 1493.
  He didn't even step foot on the island, just sailed past ! The Europeans finally decided to make the island theirs in 1630 when the island started a long history wiped out, as the Spanish, Dutch, French and English fought for control of the island, rich in salt. A very much sought commodity for them.

Finally, on 23rd March 1648, the "treaty of Partition" was signed by the French and Dutch. The French were to keep the northern, the Dutch, the Southern.

As on neighbouring island slavey came to Saint-Martin. Africans were made to work in cotton and sugar-cane fields, and in the harvest of coffee and tobacco. Life was hard, as the island had poor soil and no fresh water except for rain water.

With the abolition of slavery in the mid 19th century the fields were abandoned as the Europeans returned to their homelands. The slaves were free ! Salt continued to be harvested, and exported right up until the 1960's.

It was the tourist trade that was to be the future of our island. With the building of the first airport in 1943, Saint-Martin started to open up to the world, and slowly became the tourist mecca it is today.

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