Friday, January 28, 2022

History Of Haiti

North AmericaHaitiHistory Of Haiti

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Haiti was inhabited by the Taino Indians when Christopher Columbus landed at the St Nicolas breakwater on 5 December 1492; see The Voyages of Christopher Columbus. Columbus named the island Hispaniola. The Taino were a branch of the Arawak Indians, a peaceful tribe that was weakened by the frequent violent invasions of the Carib Indians, who were said to be cannibals. Later, Spanish settlers brought smallpox and other European diseases to which the Taino had no immunity. In a short time, the indigenous Taino were virtually wiped out. Today, there are no recognisable traces of Taino blood in Haiti. Today’s inhabitants have exclusively African and/or European roots.

In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola, and in 1697 Spain ceded the western third of the island to France. With the development of sugar and coffee plantations, the French colony of Santo Domingo flourished and became one of the richest in the Caribbean. Enslaved Africans were brought to Haiti to work on these French plantations. Working conditions for slaves in Haiti were the harshest imaginable, as the sugar and coffee plantations were labour intensive. The French imported huge numbers of slave labourers who eventually outnumbered the French planters ten to one. Even within the minority of free people in the colony there were great differences, between the “petit blancs” who did not own slaves and worked in trade or as overseers, the “grands blancs” who owned slaves and plantations, and the “libres de couleur” who were descendants of slaves and whites and occupied every stratum of free society, from wealthy landowners to poor day labourers. The whites, most of whom were born outside the island and came to Santo Domingo only to make their fortune, established a racist caste system aimed at depriving the “libres de couleur” of the relatively powerful position they had held until the mid-18th century. However, all these inherent tensions (and the overarching tension of slavery) came to a head when the French Revolution broke out in the metropolis in 1789 and all the talk of “freedom” and “equality” led everyone – including the great whites – to want to overthrow the colonial order that had been in place until then, leading to a slave revolt and the collapse of the entire society based on slavery and plantations.

In August 1791, the approximately 500,000 slaves of Santo Domingo revolted, burning down all the plantations and killing every white person they could find. After a bloody 13-year struggle, influenced alternately by the Napoleonic Wars and the American War of 1812, the former slaves drove out the French and founded Haiti, the first black republic, in 1804. Since its revolution, Haiti has experienced at least 32 coups, a series of military rule aimed at maintaining power and extracting wealth from a large peasant base. Lack of government and civil unrest led to the American occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934.

Although order was restored and much infrastructure was built in Haiti by the United States, Haitians did not appreciate the occupation of their country. The withdrawal of the Americans by President Roosevelt in 1934 left a power vacuum that was filled by the Haitian military elite. The Forbes Commission aptly noted in 1930 that “the social forces that created [the instability] remain – poverty, ignorance, and the absence of tradition or desire for free and orderly government.”

The next 20 years were marked by ruthless power struggles that ended with the rise of François (Papa Doc) Duvalier. Duvalier’s brutal dictatorship lasted almost thirty years. His son, Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier, took power after Papa Doc’s death in 1971. Baby Doc was ousted in 1986, followed by further bloodshed and military rule that led to a new constitution in 1987 and the election of former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president in 1990.

After a coup, Aristide went into exile. Most of his term was usurped by a military takeover, but he returned to power in 1994 after Haitian General Raoul Cedras asked the United States to intervene, negotiating the withdrawal of the military from Haiti and paving the way for Aristide’s return. His former prime minister, René Préval, became president in 1996. Aristide won a second term as president in 2000 and took office in early 2001. However, allegations of corruption were followed by a paramilitary coup that toppled Aristide in 2004. Since then, Haiti has been occupied by UN peacekeeping forces (MINUSTAH).

How To Travel To Haiti

By airInternational travellers arrive in Haiti in Port-au-Prince (PAP) at Toussaint L'Ouverture Airport or at Cap-Haitien International Airport in the north. Airline tickets can be purchased through numerous online ticket exchanges and agencies. Intra-Haitian flights are also available. Prices for these flights can fluctuate from time to time due...

How To Travel Around Haiti

By carCars can be rented from Hertz, Avis, etc. Taxis in Haiti are usually SUVs or trucks, as most roads are long overdue for repair, in addition to the abundance of dirt roads encountered when travelling in Haiti. The price is often reasonable (e.g. 450 gourdes, or $11.53 to...

Destinations in Haiti

Regions in HaitiCentral HaitiThe centre of Haiti's population in the heart of the country - the sprawl around the capital and the countryside in the north.North HaitiThe country's main towns outside the capital are located here, as are the beaches at Cap-Haitien favoured by foreign tourists.Southern HaitiThe Caribbean part...

Weather & Climate in Haiti

The climate in Haiti is tropical with some variations depending on altitude. The temperature in Port-au-Prince varies between an average low of 23°C and an average high of 31°C in January, and between 25 and 35°C in July. The rainfall pattern is variable, with heavier rainfall in some lowlands...

Accommodation & Hotels in Haiti

There are many guesthouses all over Haiti. However, it is quite difficult to find them abroad. Most of these guest houses cost around $25 to $35 per night and include 2 to 3 meals per day. Sometimes these houses are connected to orphanages (e.g. Saint Joseph's Home for Boys).Saint...

Traditions & Customs in Haiti

One thing a missionary or other visitor to Haiti learns very quickly is that Haitians are a very dignified people; they have their pride, despite everything they have been through. There are a few beggars and peddlers in the cities, but they are the exception, not the rule. Don't...

Food & Drinks in Haiti

Food in HaitiHaitian cuisine is typical of the Caribbean mix, a wonderful blend of French and African sensibilities. It resembles that of its Spanish Caribbean neighbours, but is characterised by a strong presence of spices. Roasted goat called "kabrit", roasted pork "griot", poultry with Creole sauce "poulet créole", rice...

Things To See in Haiti

Port-Au-Prince has a few landmarks, structures and statues, such as a large pair of hands holding the earth. Many of them are located near the airport. This city is the largest in Haiti and was the hardest hit by the earthquake. You will still see traces of the disaster,...

Money & Shopping in Haiti

The Haitian gourde is the currency of Haiti. In April 2011, the exchange rate was 40.85 gourdes = 1 US dollar. Although traders are required by law to quote prices in gourdes, almost everything is quoted in "dollars" - not US dollars, but Haitian dollars, which is equivalent to...

Festivals & Holidays in Haiti

The following days are public holidays in Haiti. Many Vodou holidays are also celebrated but are not considered public holidays.The two most important holidays for Haitian Americans are Haitian Independence Day and Haitian Flag Day.DateEnglish nameComments1 JanuaryNew Year's Day and Independence DayCommemorates the day in 1804 when Jean-Jacques Dessalines...

Language & Phrasebook in Haiti

The official languages of Haiti are French and Haitian Creole (Kreyòl Ayisien), a Creole language based on French, with 92% of its vocabulary derived from French and the rest mainly from African languages. Haitian Creole is the mother tongue of the masses, while French is the administrative language, although...

Culture Of Haiti

Haiti has a unique cultural identity made up of a broad mix of traditional French and African customs, mixed with significant contributions from Spanish and indigenous Taino culture. The country's customs are essentially a blend of the cultural beliefs of the various ethnic groups that have inhabited the island...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Haiti

Stay Safe in HaitiWARNING: In 2012, Canada advised its citizens to "exercise extreme caution" due to high crime rates and the United States warned its citizens that "the ability of local authorities to respond to emergencies is limited and non-existent in some areas" as some visitors have been assaulted,...

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