In the middle of the sixteenth century, the gold vein running out, the Spanish concentrated their efforts on the western part of the island. Despite their efforts to repel them, it was then the French who settled on the lands abandoned by the Spaniards. These new settlers also resorted to African slaves, this time to work on sugar and coffee plantations.

In 1697, the Spanish recognized the sovereignty of the French over the western part of the island. In 1749, the latter founded their capital, Port-au-Prince. Of all the European colonies in the New World, the one then called “The French Santo Domingo” became the most lucrative, even ahead of the United States. At the end of the eighteenth century, 700,000 black slaves were employed on the plantations, supervised by 30,000 whites.

About Haiti facts

  • Capital of Haiti: Port-au-Prince
  • Language of Haiti : The two official languages of Haiti are French and Haitian Creole.
  • Total Area of Haiti : Covering an area of 27,750 sq. km (10,710 sq mi
  • Currency of Haithi : The Haitian Gourde is the common currency of Hait

Religion Ratio of Haiti

Religious Beliefs in Haiti

S. No. Religion Name Percentage of Population in Haiti
1 Roman Catholic Christianity (including Catholic-Vodou Syncretism) 80%
2 Protestant Christianity 16%
3 Atheism or Agnosticism 1%
4 Baha’i Faith, Islam, Judaism, Eastern Religions, and Other Beliefs 3%

A History of the Haitian

Haiti on the arrival of Europeans

The history of Haiti begins to be written with the discovery of the island by Christopher Columbus on December 6, 1492. Coming from Cuba, he landed at the harbour of St. Nicholas, from where he passed in the port of Conception, then, along the northern coast, he visited Puerto de Valparaiso (Port of Peace), Santo Tomas. Puerto Real (Caracol Bay). In the latter place, he built a fort on December 25 and gave it the name of Nativity. He left a garrison there that was exterminated by the natives after his departure. Cubans referred to Cubao Pile or its gold-bearing districts; the natives called it Quisqueya (large land), Bohio (land of villages) or Haiti (mountainous land); Columbus called it Española (= Spanish) or (in the Latinized form) Hispaniola.

The population is estimated by Christopher Columbus at nearly 1 million people; Las Casas will even say 3 million, which seems exaggerated. According to the descriptions of the time, these Indians were small in stature, light complexion, painted figure and body often tattooed, skull deformed in childhood; they spoke dialects adjacent to each other (belonging to the Caribbean group), although in the West the Cebuneyes, relatives of the Cubans, and in the East the Araouaques; in the South, the Caribbean cannibals had gained a foothold and their raids were very feared. The mores of the Haitians, tell the first European travelers, were gentle, the property respected, the leaders very obeyed, the cult of the dead very observed. They thought they were Indigenous and celebrated ceremonies in caves.

It was said that the vault in Minguet (south of Cap-Haïtien), the most famous of these sacred caves, had seen the appearance of the first human. It sacrificed to the gods of heaven and earth.

Politically, the island was divided into five main kingdoms, each with its own cacique. In the northwest, the kingdom of Marien, ruled by Guacanaric, stretched from the mouth of the Yaqui Grande to that of the Artibonite; in the southwest, Xaragua, ruled by Bohechio, occupied the southern strip, the peninsula of Cape Tiburon and surroundings; to the north, the Maragua or kingdom of the plain, ruled by Guavionex, occupied there plain today called Vega Real; the eastern tip of the island formed the Higuey with Gayacoa as its cacique;

finally, between these districts, was that of Maraguana, subject to Caonabo; it was separated from the Higuey by the course of the Javna, from the Maragua by the Cibao massif, from the Xaragua by that of Bahuruco and touched the Marien in the upper basin of the Artibonite. There were still other cantons of lesser importance in Haiti, such as Ciguay in the central mountains, Bahuruco. Below the main caciques, hereditary monarchs, political and religious leaders, were inferior caciques, a kind of provincial governors, dependent on precedents.

It was with Guacanaric, cacique of marien, that Christopher Columbus was first in contact. He eagerly welcomed foreigners, and it was at his home that the Fort of the Nativity was built with the debris of the ship Santa Maria, thrown to the coast and where the admiral left forty Spaniards. The tyranny of these angered the Indians; the cacique of Maraguana, Caonabo, of Caribbean origin, invaded the Marian and massacred them; the old Bohechio, cacique of Xaragua, also attacked the Marien. On his return, on November 28, 1493,

Christopher Columbus built a new colony under the name of Ysabela, east of Cape Monte Cristi; he avenged his soldiers; he took Caonabo, who was drowned in a shipwreck, and inflicted a bloody defeat on his brother. This victory determined the submission of most of the petty chiefs. The colony of Ysabela was placed under the orders of Christopher Columbus’ brother, Bartolomé. He transferred it in 1496 to the southern coast, under the name of Nueva Ysabela, later Santo Domingo (1496), east of Ozama, then west of this river (1502).

In the interior of the island, in the region of the gold sands of Cibao, objective of the greed of the invaders, rose fort Saint-Thomas. Bohechio, with whom his sister and heiress Anacoana, widow of Caonabo, had taken refuge, saw his country invaded by Bartolomé Columbus and paid tribute. The cacique of the Maragua, Guavionex, rose up; Hunted in the Ciguay Mountains, he was captured and executed in Santo Domingo. Soon Bohechio’s death left the Xaragua to his sister.

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The latter was attacked by Ovando, for a delay in the payment of tribute; Xaragua was devastated and Princess Anacoana hanged (1503). Cayacoa, cacique du Higuey, rose up in 1506, destroyed the Spanish fort built on his lands and resisted valiantly, but unnecessarily; he was caught and executed. By 1507, the massacres of the natives, the deaths caused by the work of the mines had reduced the population to 60,000 people; in one army, it is said, 300,000 had perished. In 1514, a final revolt took place, led by a cacique of Bahuruco; after a struggle of thirteen years, he was left with a wooded valley near Santo Domingo, where the current village of Boya is located.

The descendants of these last free Indians still lived there in 1750, and they are found there, but mixed with the mulattoes of the neighborhood. In 1517, only 14,000 of the natives of Española survived; within a quarter of a century, they had declined by 70 to 1; in 1533 there were only 4000; in 1717, there were only a hundred. However, their mestizos still form the background of the population of the North of the island.

The gold mines of San Cristoforo discovered by Bobadilla, later exploited by Ovando, had finished wearing out the Indians and, after those of Haiti, had in a few years cost the lives of 40,000 others brought from the Bahamas. The destruction of the indigenous element was a great misfortune for the island. The systematic massacres, the work of the mines, the diseases, the famines had in a few years consumed the extermination of this gentle population and incapable of resistance. She at least bequeathed to her successors, a number of words that passed into the European languages: potato, tobacco, cassave, gayac, corn, yam, cacique, canoe.

The history of slavery in Haiti

The Institution of Black Slavery

The Spaniards, masters of an island whose population they had practically exterminated, found themselves embarrassed to exploit it, because they cared little about working themselves. In order to supplement the Indian workforce, they imported slaves from Africa. Begun in 1505, it was regularized by the edict of 1517, authorizing the annual importation of 4000 black Africans into Haiti.

This immigration was indispensable to the colony. The hard work of the mines, although remunerative since it provides more than 36 million a year and a total of nearly 400 million, was abandoned and has no longer been resumed; the void was created on the island when they threw themselves on Mexico and Peru, whose treasures attracted all adventurers in search of a quick fortune. Haiti, from a mining colony, became an agricultural colony. The origin of the plantations goes back to Pedro d’Atenza who brought sugar cane from the Canary Islands;

Gonzalez developed them. The slaves cultivated for the owners. The island was repopulating only slowly; the savannahs of the south-east fed shepherds almost as wild as their flocks of oxen; these multiplied in the plains and hills. Plantations were not widespread and the colony was languishing. Its ephemeral splendor was due to newcomers: the buccaneers.

These French, English, etc. adventurers, from the first quarter of the seventeenth century, set foot in Haiti, on Turtle Island, on the northern and western coast. These buccaneers lived by hunting, wild oxen, and got along with privateers. The Spaniards failed to eliminate them. Helped by the French merchants of Saint-Christophe, they created sedentary settlements on the northern coast of the island, which remained almost deserted. They consolidated at Petit-Goave around 1654, then at Port-de-Paix, obtained from Louis XIV the sending of a French governor, Dageron (1661) and organized a real colony (1665). Sacked by the Spaniards (1676), it nevertheless had, in 1687, 8000 inhabitants, including 4411 whites and 3582 blacks or people of color.

where haiti located
Where Haiti located

More practical than the Spanish, the French colonists created a servile population, bringing as many women as men and raising the children of these slave families, so that blacks reproduced normally, instead of being constantly renewed by the slave trade. The latter continued to bring mainly male workers, but French Santo Domingo did not experience a disproportion between the two sexes as great as the other islands.

History of Haiti and France

Santo Domingo, French colony

When the colony, restored by Ducasse (1691), was definitively recognized in the Treaty of Ryswick, which yielded to the France the western third of the island, it took off. This one dates mainly from 1722, when the regulations that paralyzed trade were modified. Inthe eighteenthcentury, the French colony of Santo Domingo was the type of plantation colonies and by far the richest in the New World. Although smaller than its neighbor, the Spanish colony, it was three or four times more populous and prosperous. At the time of the delimitation of 1776, which fixed the borders subsequently preserved between the French region and the Spanish region of the island, the first, vast of 28,000 km² at most, had more than 11,500 plantations, while the second, on 48,000 km², had only 5528.

The 1788 census recorded in French Santo Domingo 27,717 whites, 21808 people of color (blacks and mestizos) free and 405,464 slaves, or just over 455,000 inhabitants. Spanish Santo Domingo (east of the island) had only 125,000 inhabitants, of whom only 15,000 were slaves. The lesser importance of the plantations reflects this difference and the smaller difference between the white and black elements. Inthe eighteenth century, it seemed that the whole advantage was for the system of French planters. The cultivation of indigo and especially that of sugar cane provided them with enormous profits. They were thus able to

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The period of the colony’s greatest prosperity was that of the quarter century preceding the French Revolution. In 1791, sugar production reached 73,500 tons, that of coffee (in 1789) 43,000 tons. The island’s export to France in 1789 amounted to 203,370,067 colonial pounds. It supplied Europe with almost all its cotton and sugar. The slaves, who bore the brunt of this fortune, unique in the history of the West Indies, were subjected to the harshest oppression; the iniquities and blindness of the planters brought their ruin.
At the time of the Revolution
At the time of the outbreak of the French Revolution (1789), there were three classes of inhabitants in the French colony, apart from the slaves, only one of whom took over all the rights.

It was that of the Great Whites, owners of the plantations that formed the landed aristocracy; below, the Little Whites, bourgeoisie and people of the cities, traders, craftsmen, employees, business people demanded, as in France, equality. Then came the Mulattoes, numbering about 25,000, roughly equal in education to the Whites and eager to obtain equality as well. Finally, below these three classes of free men were the slaves, seven or eight times more numerous, and who would become aware of their rights and their strength. However, at first, the claims came only from the “Little Whites” and the Mulattoes. But in Europe the society of “Friends of the Blacks” was formed, which demanded the abolition of slavery. The aristocrats did not want to make any concessions. Masters of the colonial government, they braved their opponents.

The constitutionalists were opposed to the constitutionalists.

The Constituent Assembly proceeded timidly, hesitant to take sides against the planters. In 1790 she enacted an electoral law that did not explicitly recognize the right of men of color to vote. It had called a colonial assembly; the latter soon came into conflict with the governor. The Mulattoes, led by Ogé, claimed that they “did not take care of the Negroes in slavery.” Ogé was hunted down, extradited by the Spaniards to whom he had fled and perished on the wheel. The Constituent Assembly, however, ended up giving mulattoes, born of free fathers and mothers, eligibility for colonial assemblies. Exasperated, the planters became openly hostile to the metropolis. Dressed in English uniform, their delegates went to Jamaica to beg for the help of the English. An uprising broke out inaugurating what was then called “the war of races”.

On August 23, 1791, the Mulattoes and blacks rebelled in the vicinity of Cap-Français (now Cap-Haïtien). The confusion was such that a part of the blacks armed themselves in the name of Louis XVI and at the call of the priests as “people of the king”, against the constitutional authorities; but the struggle soon took on an ethnic character. In the countryside, blacks slaughtered whites, who subjected them to atrocious reprisals around the cities. On both sides, appalling atrocities were committed, torturing the captives before killing them. This carnage was to turn against the whites, much less numerous, especially as emigration weakened them.

The time of revolt

In 1791, the Blacks began to revolt, led by their leaders, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Henri Christophe, Alexandre Pétion and Toussaint Louverture who, after having briefly rallied to the French government, took up arms against the France. The end of this war of liberation was marked by the capitulation of the French army in 1803. Independence was proclaimed a few months later, making Haiti the first free black republic.

If the declaration of the Act of Independence drafted in 1804 states the intention “… to ensure forever to the indigenous people of Haiti a stable government”, the facts will greatly contradict her. Between 1804 and 1957, out of 36 heads of state, 24 were assassinated or overthrown. The first of them, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, remained in office for only two years, until his assassination. The longevity record is held by Jean-Pierre Boyer who, after annexing the Spanish part of the island, ruled for 25 years.

In 1825, Charles X, King of France, finally recognized the country’s independence. But not for free. He demanded the payment of an indemnity of 150 million gold francs. After negotiation, the sum is reduced to 90 million. Despite new taxes, as heavy as they are unpopular, it will take Haiti more than a hundred years to pay off this debt.

The U.S. period History of Haitian

As early as 1910, the United States began to settle in Haiti and to appropriate it. They built railways and drove out peasants without title deeds. In 1915, using the pretext of the First World War, they occupied the country militarily. In fact, they are only defending the interests of one of their investment banks. In 1918, to combat a general insurrection, Washington set up a government at its command by keeping a veto over government decisions. During this period, 40% of state revenues are controlled by Americans.

Haitians are, from the outset, very hostile to the occupier, who does not hesitate to shoot them by the hundreds when it seems necessary. The United States is nevertheless helping to modernize the country in terms of its infrastructure (telephone, roads, lighting, etc.). During the occupation, American repression killed at least 15,000 people and caused nearly 250,000 peasants to leave for Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The United States left Haiti under Roosevelt’s presidency in 1934. In the midst of the global economic crisis, political instability is returning.

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The Duvaliers

After a very turbulent period that saw the army exercise power, François Duvalier, known as “Papa Doc” was elected president. From the beginning of his mandate, he imposed a dictatorial policy: banning opposition parties, establishing a state of siege, using a paramilitary militia, the infamous “tontons macoutes”. With the help of this personal guard, he neutralized the army and, in 1964, proclaimed himself “president for life”. By amending the Constitution, he appointed his son Jean-Claude as his successor.

In 1971, Jean-Claude Duvalier, 19, became president of the country. Due to his very young age, he is nicknamed “Baby Doc”. Like his father, he held the country with an iron fist but, because of corruption and incompetence, his regime was bogged down. He was eventually overthrown in 1986 by a popular uprising and took refuge in France. A military junta then regained power, replaced in a coup d’état by a general (Prosper Avril), forced to resign in 1990 which allowed the organization of elections under international control.

Glimmer of hope

At the end of these elections, a Catholic priest named Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president. The one who had become the advocate of the poor gives a little hope to the Haitian people. But less than a year after his election, he was overthrown by a military junta and took refuge in the United States. It was the return of great economic and political instability that decided the Americans to intervene militarily in 1994. Aristide was then reinstated in office but, at the end of his term, ceded his place the following year to his former prime minister, René Préval.

The new president tried to put the country’s institutions in order, but he did not manage to form a coalition government until 1998, after several political assassinations. In 2000, Aristide’s controversial return to the helm of the country. His election is indeed marked by numerous irregularities that plunge the country into yet another period of unrest. Fearing another coup, “Titid” as he is called, tightens the screw and becomes as authoritarian as many of his predecessors. He resigned in 2004, just before the arrival of an international force sent by the UN to restore order in the capital. In February 2006, after a chaotic counting of votes, René Préval was once again elected president.

History of Haiti earthquakes

Following the earthquake, what is the status of reconstruction?

On January 12, 2010 at 4:53 p.m. local time, a devastating earthquake measuring magnitude 7 on the Richter scale struck Haiti, killing more than 200,000 people and leaving nearly one and a half million people homeless. Despite a strong international mobilization (between 6 and 10 billion dollars were promised at the Donors’ Conference in March 2010), the slow pace of reparations, the opacity that reigns in the distribution channels of aid and the burdens to restore water and electricity networks still overwhelm the daily lives of Haitians.

According to Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on Haiti, “there are still 600,000 people wandering. Many people think it’s very simple: the money comes, you have to rebuild. Except you can’t rebuild anywhere. Haiti is a sovereign country where the right to property exists.” Moreover, these housing problems, exacerbated by the earthquake, are a point of contention between donors and Haitian companies. The latter complain that reconstruction projects do not benefit national companies that could employ local labour and generate income for the population. Criticism is pouring in over the management of international aid. Many point out that respect, transparency and accountability are the foundations of human rights.

As for the Haitian writer Lyonel Trouillot, he does not mince his words: “Today, the whole challenge facing NGOs is to find programs, some more bogus than the others, that could justify their presence. And one of the tricks is to pretend that they are working with Haitian NGOs.” It is therefore in the Haitian people and in their culture of resistance that the hope of reconstruction would reside…

Chronology of Haiti History Timeline

Before 1492, the island of Haiti was populated by “Taino” Indians, a semi-sedentary peaceful people.

1492: “Discovery” of the island by the Spanish and extermination of the indigenous populations.
1697 : Partition of the island between France and Spain.
1794 : Abolition of slavery.
1802 : Restoration of slavery by Napoleon.
1804 : Independence.
1844 : Division of the island into 2 parts: Haiti and Dominican Republic.

1915-1934: Occupation by the United States.
1957 : Election of François Duvalier as head of state.
1971 : Jean-Claude Duvalier succeeds his father.
1986 : Fuite by Jean-Claude Duvalier.
1986-1990: Succession of coups.
1990-1996: Presidency of Jean-Bertrand Aristide (overthrown by a coup d’état in 1991, he returned to the country on October 15, 1994 to finish his mandate after three years of exile).

1996-2001: Presidency of René Préval.
2001-2004: Second term of Jean-Bertrand Aristide which ends with his resignation and exile.
2004-2006: Interim Government.
2006 : Election of René Préval as Head of State on 14Th May.
2007 : Appointment of Michèle Pierre-Louis as Prime Minister on August 31.

2010: January 12: An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 to 7.3 ravages the Port-au-Prince region. A second earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 occurred on January 20.
November: First round of presidential elections.
2011 : January: Return to Haiti by Jean-Claude Duvalier.
March: Return to Haiti by Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
11 March: Second round of presidential elections. Election of Michel Martelly as head of state with 67% of the vote. Taking office on 14 May.
2012 : February 24: The resignation of Prime Minister Garry Conille suggests new political tensions. Mr Conille was the third Prime Minister appointed by Michel Martelly since taking office