St Martin - Marigot
View from Fort Luis. The cultural diversity of St. Maarten springs from its historical role as a crossroads for visitors to the New World. Dutch, French and British traders brought European traditions, while the Africans brought the language and culture of West Africa. Today the range of influences is reflected in the number of languages spoken. Dutch is the official language, but English is taught in schools and spoken everywhere, while other common languages are Spanish and Papiamento, the dialect of the Netherlands Antilles. St. Maarten's premier cultural event is its annual Carnival, which includes parades, calypso competitions, reggae shows, and an endless array of stands serving traditional island food.