Philipsburg, St Maarten and St Martin - Stein Travel
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Philipsburg

Philipsburg is the capital of Dutch St. Maarten and the only town of consequence on the island. It has two main streets, Front Street ( Voorstraat) and Back Street ( Achterstraat), connected by several bustling thoroughfares, and filled mainly with duty-free shops, cafes, hotels and courtyards overflowing with flowers.

The town has an unusual setting, sitting on a narrow stretch of land between Great Bay, on the south coast of the island, and the Great Salt Pond (a huge marsh). It is the port of call of hundreds of cruise ships, filling the primary need of the day-tripping passengers who come ashore mainly to shop for everything from Italian leather goods and Japanese cameras to native crafts. The town's nightlife is regarded as among the liveliest to be found in the Caribbean.

Architecturally the town, founded in 1763 by John Philips (a Scots captain in the Dutch navy), is quaint, with characteristic pastel-coloured West Indian houses lining the streets, and a few Dutch colonial landmarks, including Fort Willem, built in 1801, and Fort Amsterdam, constructed nearly 200 years earlier.

Information & Facts

Climate

The weather is sunny and warm all year, with some cooling from trade winds. Average temperature during the winter season is 80F (27C), while in the summer it is several degrees warmer and more humid. The average annual rainfall is 45 inches, most falling as occasional showers in late summer and early autumn.

Language

Dutch and French are the official languages, but English is widely spoken. Locals commonly use a language known as Papiamento, a mixture of Portuguese, African, Spanish, Dutch and English.

Money

On the Dutch side the currency is the Netherlands Antilles Guilder or Florin (ANG), where one guilder is divided into 100 cents, but US Dollars are also widely accepted and prices are usually quoted in Dollars as well as Guilders. On the French side of the island the Euro (EUR) is the local currency, although establishments will also accept US Dollars. There are numerous bureaux de change and banks throughout the island and ATMs in the main towns in both national sectors; travellers cheques and major credit cards are widely accepted.

Time

GMT -4.

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