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Philipsburg is the main town and capital of the country of Sint Maarten, on a narrow stretch of land between Great Bay and the Great Salt Pond. It functions as the commercial center of Saint Martin island, whereof Sint Maarten encompasses the southern half. As of 2006[update], it has 1,338 inhabitants. It was discovered by Christopher Columbus on 11 November 1493 but there was already an Arawak settlement there before he made the discovery. Philipsburg was founded in 1763 by John Philips, a Scottish captain in the Dutch navy, and soon became a bustling centre of international trade. Two historic forts bear witness to Philipsburg's strategic importance in St. Maarten's history: Fort Amsterdam and Fort Willem. The main shopping district, Front Street, is in the heart of the city. Philipsburg has a port that is home to many cruise liners, ships like Celebrity Solstice, Crown Princess, Disney Magic, and in 2010 Oasis of the seas will call there. World famous for its close-proximity photographs of landing aircraft, Princess Juliana International Airport (IATA: SXM, ICAO: TNCM), west of Philipsburg, has become for many a reason in itself to visit Sint Maarten.
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