Haiti Flag

20 Fascinating Facts About Haiti

20 Fascinating Facts About Haiti

 

1. Haiti was first inhabited by around 5000BC with farming villages established around 300BC. The Arawak people developed large communities with the Taino eventually becoming the dominant Arawak group.

2. Haiti was the world’s first black-led republic after it threw off French colonial control and slavery in the early 19th century.

3. In doing so it simultaneously became the first independent Caribbean state and the first independent nation in Latin America.

4. In 1801, the former black slave cum guerrilla leader Toussaint Louverture conquered Haiti and abolished slavery.

5. Christopher Columbus was the first European to explore Haiti in 1492. He landed and named the island La Isla Española (The Spanish Island), which later became Anglicized as Hispaniola.

Christopher Columbus

6. Spain colonized the island shortly afterward but would cede the western part of Hispaniola to France in 1697. Renamed Saint-Domingue, this would eventually become Haiti.

7. The Saint-Domingue colony would become France’s most prosperous New World territory. Thousands of slaves were transported there from Africa to work on the sugar, coffee, cacao, indigo, and cotton plantations.

8. Following a failed attempt to recapture Haiti in 1802 by Napoleon’s brother-in-law, Charles Leclerc, Haiti was declared fully independent in 1804.

9. In 2010, more than 220,000 people were killed in Haiti when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the capital Port-au-Prince.

10. Haiti is the poorest country in the western world when measured by GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP). It is also the poorest country in the Americas.

11. Voodooism – or Haitian Vodou – was developed in Haiti during the 17th and 18th centuries. The official religion is based on ancestral spirits and patron saints. There is a common adage that says Haitians are “70% Catholic, 30% Protestant, and 100% Vodou”.

12. Zombie is a Haitian word. Haitian slaves used the word in reference to their belief that dying would release them back to Guinea, or Africa in general, a form of an afterlife where they would be free. Suicide was common among slaves, but it was believed that those who took their own lives would be condemned to walk the plantations for eternity as undead slaves – or soulless zombies.

13. One of the most popular sports in Haiti is cockfighting – a sport that is banned in most countries. Roosters are revered animals in Haiti and figure prominently in voodoo ceremonies.

cockfighting haiti

14. The name Haiti means “mountainous country” in the language of the indigenous Taíno Indians.

15. Haiti is the second oldest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere, after the USA.

16. The USA invaded and occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934 following a period of instability in Haiti. US President Woodrow Wilson was concerned that American commercial and political influence in Haiti was under threat so ordered the invasion.

17. In 1929, American Marines were responsible for the Cayes massacre when US soldiers opened fire on Haitian civilians killing 12 and wounding 23.

18. The most common phrase in Haiti is “pa gen pwoblem,” which translates to “no have problem.” Haitians use it in a range of contexts which include replying to a thank-you, affirming well-being, or even filling an awkward silence.

pa gen pwoblem,

19. The flag of Haiti is horizontally striped blue and red. Initially, the Haitian flag was inspired by the French Tricolor flag. However, the white stripe was quickly removed with the new blue and red representing the union of blacks and mulattoes (people of mixed white and black heritage).

20. When the flag is flown by the government it includes the coat of arms, which consists of a palm tree with a liberty cap on top. It is flanked by flags, rifles, hatchets, cannons, anchors, and masts among other symbols. The motto “L’Union fait la force” (“Union makes strength”) is written beneath.

 

 

 

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