Haiti is officially the Republic of Haiti and is a sovereign state located on the island of Hispaniola, which is in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea. It occupies the western three-eighths of the island, or 27,750 square kilometers. The Dominican Republic occupies the rest of this island. Haiti has a population of about 10.8 million people, making it the most populous country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the second most populous country in all of the Caribbean.
The region was originally inhabited by the indigenous Taíno people. Christopher Columbus discovered the island on 5 December, 1492, during his first voyage across the Atlantic. When Columbus first landed in Haiti he had thought he’d found India or Asia. The island was named La Española and claimed on behalf of Spain, which ruled until the early 17th century. Competing claims and settlements by the French led to the western portion of the island being ceded to France, which named it Saint-Domingue. Sugarcane plantations, worked by slaves brought from Africa, were established by colonists.
In the midst of the French Revolution of 1789–1799, slaves and free people of color revolted in what is now known as the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804). With the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte’s army at the Battle of Vertières on November 18, 1803. Slavery was abolished and the sovereign nation of Haiti was established on 1 January 1804. Haiti was the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, the second republic in the Americas, and the only nation in the world established as a result of a successful slave revolt.
Most tourists visiting Haiti arrive aboard cruise ships. Regardless, the industry generates about US$200 million annually. The Haitian Carnival is one of the most popular carnivals in the Caribbean and a huge draw for tourists. In 2010 the Haitian government decided to stage the event in a different city each year. The Haitian National Carnival follows the also popular, Jacmel Carnival, which takes place a week earlier each year.
There are few if any hostels in Haiti at the time of publishing. Most budget accommodations are guest houses.
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