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The island of St Maarten is situated southeast of Puerto Rico. It is the smallest land mass in the world to be divided between two governments. The Dutch and the French established small settlements and fought together to prevent a Spanish invasion. Local folklore suggests the island was divided by a walking contest between a Dutchman and a Frenchman. Philipsburg is the capital of Dutch St. Maarten and the only town on the island.
Philipsburg has two main streets, connected by several bustling side streets, which are filled mainly with duty-free shops, cafes, restaurants 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 which is a huge marsh from where salt was made many years ago. Architecturally the town is very quaint, having characteristic pastel coloured West Indian houses lining the streets, as well as very interesting Dutch colonial landmarks.
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