Learn more about specific causes in Saint-Martin that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentSaint Martin is incredibly diverse. However, the push for industrialization and increased human activity has destroyed natural habitats and created pollution. In particular, this has damaged the banana and sugarcane industries which in the past have accounted for large sums of the economies.1 The high cost of importing fossil fuels for energy has caused the territory to implement forms of renewable energy, and these energy sources account for 30% of all of the energy supply.2
FamilyThere are families from all around the world that live here—with the largest populations coming from French, indigenous, African, and Asian backgrounds.1
Human RightsThere has been steady progress made in the last century and a half to give all people in Saint Martin equal rights, but some worry that the master-slave relationship of the past never went away.1 The territory is also playing an increasingly frequent role in trafficking cocaine to Europe, but the French government is trying to combat this by sending a representative from the drug monitoring center to Saint Martin.2 Human trafficking is prevalent, with many children and young women being lured from their homes and then transported to mainland France.3
EducationThe school system is the same as in mainland France, and the literacy rate is between 70-85%.1 The French government is actively attempting to build new schools in rural areas to increase literacy and universal access to education.1 There is criticism of the French schooling system because French language and European history are compulsory, while children have little opportunity to learn the history of their own people background and land.2 In addition, there is a lack of higher education opportunities in the territories. Only 10% of the population holds higher education degrees, most of which are from universities in France.3
PovertyIn general, wealth is unevenly distributed in Saint Martin, with a small powerful elite and significant amount of people on the bottom facing unemployment and poor living conditions.1 It is estimated that over 25% of people living live below the poverty line, and Saint Martin has accused France of not providing enough assistance or attention to this problem.2
ReligionBecause of their French colony roots, Christianity, particularly Roman Catholicism, is the most practiced religion with over 60% of the population identifying as some sort of Christian.1 Carnival, the celebration before the Lenten season of Christianity, is celebrated with eating, parades, parties, and music. France, a secular state, does not collect census data on religion, so there is difficulty understanding the specific religious diversity of each territory. Indigenous religions are widely practiced, as well as Buddhism and Hinduism.2
Clean WaterThousands do not have access to safe and reliable water sources. Many of those without access to clean water live in rural or densely forested areas.1
EconomySaint Martin relies on international tourism and related services to support their economy.1 The last 50 years have been marked by notable investment to grow and diversify the economy, build infrastructure, and provide services. The most notable factors contributing to the GDP are agriculture and tourism, but many also are subsistence farmers.2 Despite efforts to grow the economy, the unemployment rate is still above 20%.3 In addition, Saint Martin has to import many products which are more valuable than their exports, which leads to a high cost of living.4
GovernmentAdministered by France, French is the official language and the Euro is widely used.1 There is some autonomy over local governing affairs with local perfects and legislative branches elected. Representatives are also sent to the French parliament, and the president in France is the head of state.2 Citizens are given full French citizenship and the right to vote in national and EU elections.3 There is tension, however, as some want more autonomy or complete independence feel financially neglected by officials in Paris.4
HealthThe French government’s main health care goal is to improve overall health status, ensure access to healthcare, and provide grants to support local initiatives in disease prevention and care.1 The life expectancy is in the mid 70s, but access to healthcare is limited in rural areas as there is only one hospital in the capital city.2,3 In recent years, however, the French government has been wanting to sponsor the construction of new medical facilities to alleviate the gap in healthcare access between mainland France and Saint Martin.4
ChildrenThe French Ministry of Overseas Territories maintains a network of youth activities and organized sports, and they distribute grants and other resources for the teams to be well equipped and travel to compete.1 Despite the focus on youth engagement activities, youth unemployment is high with the rate near 40% compared to 25% in mainland France.2 In order to combat this, the French Ministry of Overseas Territories is working to implement mentorship and entrepreneurial programs for youth to encourage new business endeavors.2
AnimalsSaint Martin has a large number of endangered species, and the causes for this are habitat degradation, overfishing, invasive species, and climate change.1
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