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of Saint Martin / Sint Maarten.
First Settlers
The first settlers on St Martin/St Maarten were a tribe of Arawak Indians from the Orinoco basin of South America called the Arawaks. They migrated island by island through the Caribbean and gave St Martin/St Maarten the name "Sualouiga" which means "Land of Salt".  They found a few fresh water springs around Paradise Peak, Mount William, Billy Folly, and in the Lowlands and this is where based their settlements. The St.Martin Museum has a number of artifacts from this period on display. Later, another more aggressive tribe of Indians, the Caribs, came down from North America and over ran the islands which later were named after them.
Island Name
Columbus sighted the island on November 11, 1493, which was the feast of St.Martin, thus gave the island its name. But he never actually set foot on the island. He claimed it for Spain as he passed by. But Spanish showed little interest in the island.
The Spanish vs. the Dutch
In 1631 the Dutch wanted to establish an outpost midway between their colonies in Brazil and Nieue Amsterdam (now New York) so they occupied St Martin. The Dutch West India Company erected the first fort and began to mine salt but the Spanish objected to this incursion to their sovereignty and recaptured the island in 1633. The Dutch moved on and later occupied Curaçao.
For fifteen years the Dutch launched abortive attempts to reclaim the island. One assault was led by Peter Stuyvesant in 1644 who lost his leg but later became the governor of Nieue Amsterdam. 
In the mid-sixteenth century pirates, privateers and buccaneers were attracted by the high volume of shipping carrying valuable cargo that included Mexican or Peruvian silver. 
Pirates were/are private individuals, (not affiliated with any government), who committed a war-like acts involving robbery and/or criminal violence at sea.
A privateer was a private warship authorized by a country's government to attack foreign shipping during wartime. The costs of commissioning these ships was borne by investors who gained a percentage of the plunder and, if captured, were treated as prisoners of war. 
Buccaneers were specifically pirates who attacked Spanish and French shipping in the Caribbean Sea. 
Spanish defenses could not prevent raids in so large an area. Sir John Hawkins, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Henry Morgan and William Dampier were famed English privateers. Dutch "Sea Beggers" and French Huguenot privateers also took their toll.  
Dutch & French Settlers
In 1647 the King of Spain allowed the Spanish commander to abandon the island and French and Dutch settlers from neighboring islands established outposts. Legend tells how Dutch and French devised a contest to divide the island. Starting at Oyster Pond, the French set off along the northern coast and the Dutch along the southern coast and they drew a line dividing the island from Oyster pond across the island to the point where they met. Legend suggests that the French drank wine along the way and the Dutch drank with gin. Because the French were less drunk than the Dutch, they were able to cover a much greater distance. In reality, the French had a large naval force just off shore and won more concessions by threat of force. The treaty was signed on top of Mount Concordia in 1648, but the border change several times, and the island was occupied several times, before the current boundaries were established at the Treaty of Paris in 1815.
The population of the island expanded as hundreds of African slaves were imported to work the island's sugar plantations. But the French abolished slavery 30 years later in 1848 and the Dutch slaves were emancipated 15 years later. The island suffered decades of depression that lasted until 1939, when the island was declared a duty-free port. The Dutch began developing a tourist industry in the 1950's and the French followed suit in the 1970's.

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In short...
 Circa 800AD Settled by Arawak Indians who arrived from South America, given the name Soualiga, or Land of Salt.
 November 11, 1493 Claimed for Spain by Columbus, named Isla de Saint Martin, upon his arrival.
 1624 Some French cultivate tobacco on French Quarter.
 1631 Dutch small colony on Groot baai to collect salt.
 1633–1647 Spanish army from Puerto Rico builds the first military fort, but after a few years destroy it and abandon the island forever.
 March 23, 1648 Divided into French (north) and Dutch (south) zones
(Dutch zone subordinate to Sint Eustatius until 1672).
 1679–1689 French occupy entire island.
 1689–1792 Dutch zone under Dutch West India Company administration.
 1690–1699 English occupy entire island.
 1699–1702 French occupy entire island.
 1703–1717 Dutch occupy entire island.
 February 24, 1779 – February 3, 1781 French occupy entire island.
 February 3, 1781 – November 26, 1781 British occupy entire island.
 May 18, 1793 – April 5, 1794 Dutch administer entire island.
 April 29, 1795 – March 24, 1801 French occupy entire island.
 March 24, 1801 – December 1, 1802 British occupy entire island.
 July 9, 1810 Annexed along with the Netherlands by France (not effected).
 1810–1816 British occupy entire island.
 1816 French and Dutch zones resumed.
 1919 – April 1, 1983 Saba, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten united as Netherlands Windward Islands.
 1936 Dutch side officially adopted the Dutch spelling Sint Maarten.
 September 4, 1960 Hurricane Donna hit the island causing extensive damage.
 September 5, 1995 Hurricane Luis devastated the island.
 June 23, 2000 Referendum supports a "status aparte" as a separate entity within The Netherlands by 68.9%.
 December 7, 2003 The population of the French part of the island votes in favour of secession from Guadeloupe in order to form a separate overseas collectivity of France.
 November 2, 2006 Sint Maarten and Curaçao sign agreement with the Netherlands on "status aparte"
 February 22, 2007 French side becomes a separate overseas collectivity.
 December 10, 2010 Date set for dissolution of Netherlands Antilles.