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Fifteen Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Haiti

The Republic of Haiti has a lot to offer.  It’s rich history and cultural depth have shaped the country into what it is today.  While in the past, Haiti has been associated with poverty and natural disasters more than any other country in the Caribbean, it has grown to a unique and popular destination.

Here are some amazing and interesting facts one should know about Haiti:

1. Haiti was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1492

Although it was already inhabited by a native tribe now known as Taino, when Christopher Columbus landed in Haiti, he called it ‘La Isla Espanola’ meaning The Spanish Isle. He was buried in the cathedral of Santa Maria in Haiti and today, a monument of Christopher Columbus stands in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince. Though for centuries Columbus actions were acclaimed, history reveals him as a person who took advantage of many indigenous peoples. His arrival is generally revered as a very bad move.

2. Haiti is the most mountainous country in the Caribbean

Haiti’s mountain peaks reach over 8,000 feet and Haiti comes from the word Ayiti meaning ‘Land of Mountains’. This name was given by the original inhabitants of the island, the Taino people.

3. Haiti was the first country in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery

The Haitian Revolution was the only successful slave revolt in human history and it was not until 65 years after that the United States of America joined in to abolish slavery.

4. Voodoo is an officially recognized religion in Haiti

Haiti is the only country in the world that recognizes Voodoo this way. Voodoo is such an important part of the Haitian culture that President Francis Duvalier recognized himself as a Voodoo priest.

5. Haiti has the world’s largest solar powered hospital

After the 2010 earthquake which left a death toll of over 300,000  people, with 1.5 million people left homeless, the Hospital Universitaire De Mirebalais, became the world’s largest solar powered hospital.

6. Haiti has surviving cave paintings

All over the country, there are surviving cave paintings from the Taino people. These paintings are now adopted as national symbols and serve as one of the country’s most unique tourist attractions.

7. Grammy Winner, Wyclef Jean is a Haiti national

Wyclef Jean is arguably the most popular artist of Haitian origins to those outside the island. In 2010, he filed for candidacy for the Haitian presidential elections but was ruled ineligible. He also channeled a lot of effort through his charity organization as relief for the 2010 earthquake.

Haiti

8. French and Creole are the official languages in Haiti

Haiti and Canada are the only countries in the Americas with French as an official language. Additionally, 90% of Haitians speak Creole as their first language but it only became an official language in 1987.

9. Cock fighting is an official sport in Haiti

Animal rights activists in the U.S. denounce the activity as cruel and inhumane, but in Haiti, the popularity of Cock Fighting skyrockets. Raw meat and hot pepper soaked in rum is fed to cocks to make them tough and aggressive and the owner of the winning cock wins $70 which is what more than 80% of Haitians earn in a month, making it very lucrative.

Haiti Citadelle

10. The largest mountaintop fortress in the Western Hemisphere is in Haiti

This fortress called “The Citadelle” is located on top of the mountain Bonnet a L’Eveque. It has become a very popular site for tourists to visit and hire a local guide for a tour of the fortress, which is a monumental feet of construction in Haiti.

11. In Haiti, only one partner needs to be present for a divorce to take place

Interesting fact… In the 1970s, Haiti introduced a law which offered easy divorces where only 1 of the married persons needs to be present for the divorce to happen. This move was made to boost tourism.

12. Haiti is a very colorful country.

Haiti has a very artistic tradition which is known for its bold, colorful and symbolic paintings. Their Tap Tap buses which are acquired second hand from the United States are very creatively painted and they add to the color on the streets of Haiti.

13. Gourde, Haiti’s currency is named after a plant called Gourd

This plant is very important to Haitians. The gourd is a prevalent food source. It’s husk can also be a vessel for water once it is dehydrated and dried. It has been such an important food source to Haitians that it was a currency itself until 1807 when the present official currency took over AND was named after it.

14. Haiti has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the Caribbean

The country has 5,600 plant species living in the nine life zones from sea levels to mountain tops. Haiti is also home to endangered mammal species including the Haitian Solenodon.

15. Tourism is one of the largest industries in Haiti

Nearly a million tourists visit Haiti by cruise ship and lodge at Labadee, a private resort on the northern coast of Haiti, named after Marquis de La Badie, a French man who first settled in the area in the 17th century.

Haiti has a rich cultural heritage that reflects in its art and music. The country continues to be a popular tourist destination, generating $200 million dollars from tourism. In the recent years, it has gone through a great deal of economic and political turmoil including the 2010 earthquake. It has a long way to go before it can achieve peace and financial stability but looking beyond all these, Haiti has much to offer through its landscape and culture.

Haiti Gourd

13) Gourde, Haiti’s currency is named after a plant called Gourd

This plant is very important to Haitians. The gourd is a prevalent food source. It’s husk can also be a vessel for water once it is dehydrated and dried. It has been such an important food source to Haitians that it was a currency itself until 1807 when the present official currency took over AND was named after it.

14) Haiti has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the Caribbean

The country has 5,600 plant species living in the nine life zones from sea levels to mountain tops. Haiti is also home to endangered mammal species including the Haitian Solenodon.

15) Tourism is one of the largest industries in Haiti

Nearly a million tourists visit Haiti by cruise ship and lodge at Labadee, a private resort on the northern coast of Haiti, named after Marquis de La Badie, a French man who first settled in the area in the 17th century.

Haiti has a rich cultural heritage that reflects in its art and music. The country continues to be a popular tourist destination, generating $200 million dollars from tourism. In the recent years, it has gone through a great deal of economic and political turmoil including the 2010 earthquake. It has a long way to go before it can achieve peace and financial stability but looking beyond all these, Haiti has much to offer through its landscape and culture.