Sunday, June 15, 2008
Did you know?
Haiti (English pronounced /ˈheɪtiː/; French Haïti pronounced [aiti]; Haitian Creole: Ayiti), officially the Republic of Haiti (République d'Haïti ; Repiblik d Ayiti), is a French and Creole speaking Latin American country located on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic, in the Greater Antilles archipelago. Ayiti (Land of Mountains) was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island. The country's highest point is Pic la Selle, at 2,680 metres (8,793 ft). The total area of Haiti is 27,750 square kilometres (10,714 sq mi) and its capital is Port-au-Prince.
Derivation of the name of the country
The name Haiti comes from the Taino word for the entire island of Hispaniola, Ayiti, Quisqueya or Bohio which means "Mountainous Land". The French staked their claim on the entire island based on the settlement of Tortuga and Gonave Islands by French pirates in the 15th and 16th centuries. The colony was officially incorporated by France in the early 1600s. By 1697, with the signing of the Treaty of Ryswick with Spain, the French took the western third of the island, which they named Saint-Domingue (a gallicization of the Spanish name, Santo Domingo ("Saint Dominic"). During this French colonial period, the colony earned the name “La Perle des Antilles” ("The Pearl of the Antilles") due to its economic prosperity and importance. The Spanish kept control of Santo Domingo on the eastern two-thirds of the island.
With the declaration of Saint-Domingue's independence from France on January 1, 1804, following the Haitian Revolution, Revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines restored the original Taino name as a symbolic gesture of honor to the Taino people and as defiance against European rule.
Now you know!