The crystal clear, blue water and the magnificent sun make the Caribbean island of Saint Maarten a favorite
vacation spot, one that is popular with North Americans during their winter holidays from December through
March, as well as with South Americans and Europeans from April through August. The French and Dutch
settled on the island in the 1600s, and to this day, the island is divided between the two of them. The French
capital is Marigot; the Dutch capital is Philipsburg.
Tourists soon discover that St.Maarten has an intriguing history. Ancient artifacts found on the island date back
to the Stone Age, 6,000 years ago! Tourists also learn that 1,200 years ago the Arawak Indians inhabited all the
islands of the West Indies and were a peaceful people living under the guidance of their chiefs.Three hundred
years after the Arawaks first arrived on St. Maarten, in the 1300s, they were defeated and forced to abandon the
island by a hostile tribe of Indians originating in South America. This new tribe was called the Carib. The
Caribbean Sea was named after them. Unlike the Arawaks,they had no permanent chiefs or leaders, except in
times of strife. And they were extremely warlike. Worse,they were cannibalistic,eating the enemy warriors
they captured. In fact, the very word cannibal comes from the Spanish name for the Carib Indians. The Spanish
arrived in the fifteenth century and, unfortunately, they carried diseases to which the Indians had no immunity.
Many Indians succumbed to common European illnesses;others died from the hard labor forced upon them.