Haiti is a Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. The Spanish were the first Europeans to settle on Hispaniola, led by Christopher Columbus in December 1492. The Spanish settled on the eastern side of the island, which is currently the Dominican Republic. French explorers arrived shortly thereafter, and settled on the western part of the island that is now Haiti.
The capital city of Haiti is Port-au-Prince. The capital is located on the Gonave Gulf in Quest, one of Haiti’s ten departments. The French incorporated the town in 1749 during their rule, and Port-au-Prince later replaced Cap-Francais as capital of the colony in 1770. Saint-Andre, a French captain, named the town Port-au-Prince after sailing to the island on his ship called Le-Prince. The name Port-au-Prince means the "harbor of the Le-Prince."
History of the Capital of Haiti
Before the Spanish colonization, the island was inhabited by the Taino people who arrived in approximately 2000 BC in their large hollow canoes. In fact, when Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492 AD, Taino Chief Bohechio ruled the island. Bohechio was forced to allow the island to fall under the protection of the Spaniards. Bohechio was childless and was later succeeded by his sister Anacaona upon his death. In 1503, the Spanish decided to rule directly, and Governor Nicolas Ovando hanged Anacaona publicly. The governor established a Spanish settlement near the coast named Maria-de-la-Paz-Verdadera, which they left years later for Santa Maria del Puerto. The Spanish abandoned the island after attacks by the French in 1535 and the British in 1592.
French pirates arrived on the island in 1650 and developed a hospital near the coast. The presence of French pirates on the island forced the Spanish crown to send troops, who were defeated in 1697. The French administration was not comfortable with the pirates controlling the hospital, so they tried to capture the hospital, but the pirates closed it down instead. In 1770, the Port-au-Prince was selected to replace Cap-Francais as the capital of Saint Domingue. Port-au-Prince was later burned down in a war between black revolutionists and plantation owners. The English captured the capital on June 4, 1794.
Economy of the Capital of Haiti
The capital is the economic and financial centre of Haiti. Currently, the primary capital exports are sugar and coffee. Port-au-Prince has numerous food processing factories, as well as cement, textile, and soap factories. Despite the number of industries in the city, the unemployment rate is high. Therefore, the majority of the population live in the slums and depend on informal employment. The city depends on the construction and tourism industries to drive the local economy.
Geography of the Capital of Haiti
The metropolitan area of the capital is divided into numerous districts. The most prosperous suburban district, which is located in the southeastern part of the capital, is Petion-Ville. Delmas is situated directly north of the city-centre and south of the local airport. Carrefour is the most impoverished district in the city, and is situated in the southwestern part of the city.
Demographics of the Capital of Haiti
The city had a population of 987,310 in 2015, and greater metropolitan area had an estimated population of 2,618,894. The majority of Port-au-Prince's population are African, especially descendants of former slaves. A minority are of the Arab ancestry, particularly Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian. A small and relatively wealthy biracial population owns the majority of businesses in Port-au-Prince.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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