the capital of Dutch St. Maarten, fills
a narrow stretch of land between Great Bay and the Great
Salt Pond. Founded in 1763 by John Philips, a Scottish
captain in the Dutch navy, it soon became a bustling
center of international trade. Today it is as bustling
as ever, with lively shopping streets, cafes, and hotels.
Two main roads cut across the length of Philipsburg--Front
Street and, yes, Back Street.
Great bay beach
Street, the main thoroughfare, is lined with
duty-free shops offering everything from Italian leather
goods and Japanese cameras to native crafts. Narrow
alleyways lead in either direction to arcades and courtyards
filled with flowers. Visitors will also find examples
of traditional West Indian architecture, including characteristic
pastel-colored houses with second-story verandas looking
out over the street.