Focus on a place : the border obelisk
When the Spanish abandoned the island in1648, some French and Dutch families settled in the mountains and started to cultivate taro and tobacco.
In time they sought to persuade their respective governments to claim possession of these areas.
As the Dutch arrived first they tried to prevent the French from landing.
However, Chevalier Longvillier de Poincy, who was the governor of Saint Christopher, retaliated and made a forced landing with a group of around 300 men.
On March 23rd 1648 the two nations finally signed an agreement on the Monts des Accords, which divided the island in two.
Legend has it that the border limits were made based on the outcome of a race between two runners from each country. The French were awarded the north which comprised two thirds of the island and the Dutch were given the south.
The treaty included a clause stating that goods could be transported and people could circulate freely between both sides of the island.
This law still applies today, and the very symbolic border crossing is only indicated by an obelisk which was erected in 1948, during a commemoration ceremony, to celebrate 300 years of peaceful cohabitation between the two nations.
(Source : Caraïbes Françaises ; Saint-Martin/Sint-Maarten GUIDE, Edition SEPCART SARL).