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Souvenirs from Saint Martin
The French territory of Saint Martin shares an island with the Dutch territory of St. Maarten, but each offers a slightly unique spin on its memorabilia. Some of the best souvenirs from Saint Martin are edible, including the legendary rum. This sweet alcoholic beverage has been distilled here since the 1800’s in individual homes. You can purchase flavored rums with banana, vanilla, jalapeno pepper or cinnamon, or plain rum in lovely hand painted bottles that can be reused as vases. Sauces and jellies, created using local fruits, are another popular culinary gift. A locally made hammock, created from woven fabric, would make an ideal St. Martiner souvenir for your backyard. If you are looking for smaller items, strands of shells and wooden beads, printed T-shirts, fun stickers, plastic refrigerator magnets, posters, maps and water globes are wonderful ways to remember a tropical vacation on the island paradise of Saint Martin.
A Brief History of Saint Martin
The island of Sint Maarten/ Saint Martin is located in the Caribbean, east of Puerto Rico, and is divided between the Netherlands and France. This division dates back to 1648, under the Treaty of Concordia. The island was first discovered by Christopher Columbus, who laid anchor on the feast day of Saint Martin on November 11, 1493. The native Carib population fought against European colonization until the 1600’s when they were crushed under the culmination of attacks by the Spanish, French, English, Dutch and Danish. Dutch merchants began to export salt from St. Martin in 1633 and, shortly thereafter, began to build military encampments. French plantations also sprang up, creating tensions between the two countries. The treaty signed up in 1648 helped to ease the situation. An amusing piece of folklore states that a Dutchman and a Frenchman each started walking from one end of the island, and wherever they met would be the border. The Frenchman walked the farthest, earning the French most of the island, while Dutchman didn’t make it very far, because he was too drunk from gin.