Ste. Marie and Ste. Helene
|12, 2.6068, 93.4229|
|Federation of Sainte Marie and Sainte Helene|
"Doucement le matin, pas trôp vite l'apres-midi"
Easy in the morning, not too fast afternoons
Oh, islands in the sun
and largest city
|Port Ste. Marie|
|• Regional languages||creolised mix of Ingerish, Franquese and Castellanese|
|• Total||200 km2|
|• Estimate (2017)||15,000|
|Currency||Ste. Marie Dollar ($) (SMD)|
|Drives on the||right|
Ste. Marie and Ste. Helene, officially the Federation of Sainte Marie and Sainte Helene, is an island nation in the Asperic Ocean, at the far south of Uletha. It is located east of Ma'akuha, and west of Denghio, in the Southern Plurinesean Sea. Its capital and largest city is Port Ste. Marie.
The islands are part of an archipelago, stretching over 1500 kilometers from Suvuma south-westwards. The archipelago has volcanic origins, caused by tectonic friction between the Ulethan and Archantean tectonic plates. Although there is no currently active volcano on Ste. Marie and Ste. Helene, the isles are prone to earthquakes. A - partly AN -funded - geothermic power plant uses the volcanic heat to provide energy.
The island of Ste. Marie has a sizeable population, with Port Ste. Marie as main settlement and some other smaller villages. There is a limited population on Ste. Helene, while the other islands have only a few houses (farms, fishermen- or holiday cottages) or are uninhabited.
The isles' climate is tropical. Average temperatures over the year are high and fairly constant, with the heat being somewhat mitigated by trade winds. There are two rainy seasons, in spring and autumn.
Five centuries ago, the Southern Plurinesian Sea was home to various bands of pirates, preying on sailing ships on the lucrative trade route between Uletha and Archantia. Many a vessel carrying cargo was captured and sunk, the pirates having an easy escape, hiding out on the many small isles in the archipelago.
According to local legend, the first inhabitant of Isle Ste. Marie was a captain named 'Iron John', looking for a comfortable retirement home after a successfull career. Former 'collegues' visiting him soon discovered the island proved to be an ideal location for trade and storage of not necessarily legally obtained commerce, it's main virtues being a strategic and mostly hidden location and a healthy distance from authorities.
Slowly a settlement started to develop at what is currently Port Ste. Marie, the islands capital. A trading post was set up, and fishermen and farmers joined, attracted by the rich local fishing grounds and the fertile volcanic soil. Over the years, the population grew steadily, but was never large enough to be noted by larger countries, causing the island to remain independent.
June 27th, 1917, the islanders officially claimed independence as 'Republic of Sainte Marie'. Given the insignificance of the territory, no major country even took the trouble to object and claim the isles. With a narrow majority, Ingerish was chosen as official language, over Franquese and Castellanese - though the colloquial spoken language is a creole of the three.
In 1961, after a series of consultations, the state was formally re-organised as 'Federation of Sainte Marie and Sainte Helene', recognising that the latter now had a significant number of inhabitants.
The state is ruled by an Island Council, having 30 seats. Executive power is by a cabinet; the precidency is mostly ceremonial.
The island of Ste. Marie hosts a port, operated by Port Ste. Marie Harbour Authority. The port has a capacity for vessels up to 200 metres of length. The port has a passenger terminal for cruise ships and inter-island ferries and ample cargo facilities, including oil storage tanks.
The 1997 -modernized Ste. Marie International Airport is located on the south-west side of Ste, Marie. Heavily subsidized and connected with alleged fraud and corruption, the airport has a single runway of 1.850 metres in length, designed for (jet) airplanes with a 2.500 to 3.500 kilometres range, thus putting the main gateways in southern Uletha as Khaiwoon and Gobras City approximately a 3-hour non-stop flight away. The airport is home to AirPlurinesia.
There are three heliports: two on Ste. Marie (at the harbour and next to the hospital, the latter for emergency use only) and one on Ste. Helene.
Between airport, Port Ste. Marie town and the harbourside passenger terminal is a shuttle service, the islands only organised form of public transport.
There is an international ferry between Ma'akuha and Port Ste. Marie. Between Ste. Marie and Ste. Helene is a regular car ferry service.
The country's economy is mainly based on three aspects: agriculture, tourism, and financial offshore services.
The isles' soil of volcanic origins is rich in minerals. Coupled with the climate, it proved over the years to be an ideal location to grow various spices as pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. These crops are relatively small in volume but, as the demand is high, are very profitable. Plantations are mostly inland, on the hillsides, on small plots of ground. Near the coast, sugar cane is planted for the famous rum of the island. On Ste. Helene, there are coffee plantations.
Tourists have discovered the islands, their fine beaches and their favourable climate in the last few decades. Most come from Uletha by plane, taking advantage of the newly-build Ste. Marie International Airport. A selected number comes with their own yacht, being welcomed at the Ste. Marie Yacht Club. The islands have a number of resorts as well as hotels and private accommodation.
Perhaps fitting for a place of alledged pirate legacy, taxation rules on Ste. Marie and Ste. Helene are of a 'different' standard than on most of the Ulethan mainland. This significant lower tax regime has caused a number of larger companies to start an offshore subsidiary based in Ste. Marie, allowing for interesting financial arrangements, benefitting both the company and the islands economy.
The 'Liquid Gold' of Ste. Marie
Deservedly the most famous product of Ste. Marie is its rum, rightfully labelled the "Liquid Gold' of the island. The century-old Island Distillery uses mineral-rich pure cane juice from inland-grown sugar cane to distill a spirit that is widely known and used throughout the region. Islanders drink 'Captain Johns', affectionally known as 'the captain', for their daily dram, connaisseurs worldwide prefer the 'Special Reserve' -series to crown their moments of leisure.
On a more modest note, the Anchor Brewery produces the only island-brewed beer, for those moments in need of lower alcoholic refreshment.
Did you know that:
- There is not a single stretch of dual-carriage motorway in Ste. Marie?
- Neither are there traffic-lights ?
- There is just one traffic roundabout, near the airport ?
- The official flag almost contained a picture of a pirate's ship ?