Each and every visit to the Caribbean is like no other. There is always something new to learn, places to go or things to do. Sculpted by nature, the islands are ever-changing and evolving. With so many islands to choose from it is never easy to decide on where to stop.
We want to introduce you to our beautifully unique islands. Make sure you stay a while, take your time! In the Caribbean there’s no rush, let’s just ‘go with the flow’.
The more you learn, the more you will want to know, so relax and discover
The colours in the Haitian flag depict the country’s status as a former French colony. It is said that the revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines developed the Haitian flag from the French flag, hence the resemblance. He rotated the strips so that they were vertical instead of horizontal as in the French flag. The white centre was also removed. Symbolically this represented the removal of white influence. Just the blue and red remain, the Haitians. The blue representing the former slaves and the red representing those of mixed ancestry. In the centre of the flag bears the National Coat of Arms of Haiti.
The coat of arms of Haiti was originally introduced in 1807, and has appeared in its current form since 1986.
It shows six draped flags of the country, three on each side, which are located before a palm tree and cannons on a green lawn. On the lawn various items are found, such as a drum, bugles, long guns, and ship anchors. Above the palm tree, there is a Phrygian cap placed as a symbol of freedom. On the lawn between the drum and the ribbon there were supposed to be two pieces of chain with a broken link symbolising the broken chain of slavery.
The National Anthem of Haiti is called “La Dessalinienne” in honor of Jean Jacques Dessalines, Father of the Country’s Independence. This Anthem was selected as a result of a national competition, celebrating Haiti’s 100 years of independence in 1904.
Pou Ayiti peyi Zansèt yo
Se pou-n mache men nan lamen
Nan mitan-n pa fèt pou gen trèt
Nou fèt pou-n sèl mèt tèt nou
Annou mache men nan lamen
Pou Ayiti ka vin pi bèl
Annou, annou, met tèt ansanm
Pou Ayiti onon tout Zansèt yo.
Pou Ayiti ak pou Zansèt yo
Fo nou kapab, vanyan gason
Moun pa fèt pou ret avèk moun
Se sa-k fè tout Manman ak tout Papa
Dwe pou voye Timoun lekòl
Pou yo aprann, pou yo konnen
Sa Tousen, Desalin, Kristòf, Petyon
Te fè pou wet Ayisyen anba bòt blan.
Pou Ayiti onon Zansèt yo
Se pou-n sekle se pou-n plante
Se nan tè tout fòs nou chita
Se li-k ba nou manje
Ann bite tè, ann voye wou
Ak kè kontan, fòk tè a bay.
Sekle,wouze, fanm kou gason
Pou-n rive viv ak sèl fòs ponyèt nou.
`Pou Ayiti onon Zansèt yo
Ann leve tèt nou gad anlè
Pou tout moun, mande Granmèt la
Pou-l ba nou pwoteksyon
Pou move zanj pa detounen-n
Pou-n ka mache nan bon chimen
Pou libète ka libète
Fòk lajistis blayi sou peyi a.
Nou gon drapo tankou tout Pèp.
Se pou-n renmen-l, mouri pou li.
Se pa kado, blan te fè nou
Se san Zansèt nou yo ki te koule
Pou nou kenbe drapo nou wo
Se pou-n travay met tèt ansanm.
Pou lòt, peyi, ka respekte’n
Drapo sila a se nanm tout Ayisyen
For Haiti, the Ancestors’ Country
We must walk hand in hand
There must not be traitors among us
We must be ourselves’s unique master
Let’s walk hand in hand
For Haiti can be more beautiful.
Let us, Let us put our heads together
For Haiti in the name of all the Ancestors.
For Haiti and for the Ancestors
We must be able, valiant men
Men are not born to serve other men
That is why all mothers and all fathers
Must send their child to school
Must they learn, must they know
What Toussaint, Dessalines, Christophe, Petion
Did to take Haitians under white people’s boots.
For Haiti in the name of the Ancestors
We must toil, we must sow
It is in the soil, that all our strength seats
It is it that feeds us
Let us toil the soil, let us toil the soil
Joyfully, may the land be fertile
Mow, water, men like women
Must we come to live only by our arms’ strength.
For Haiti in the name of the Ancestors
Let’s us raise our head and look above
Must everyone ask the Grandmaster
To grant us protection
For evils may not turns us back
TOOK OFFICE: 07/02/1986 – LEFT OFFICE: 07/02/1988
TOOK OFFICE: 07/02/1986 – LEFT OFFICE: 20/06/1988
TOOK OFFICE: 20/06/1988 – LEFT OFFICE: 17/09/1988
TOOK OFFICE: 17/09/1988 – LEFT OFFICE: 10/03/1990
HÉRARD ABRAHAM (acting)
TOOK OFFICE: 10/03/1990 – LEFT OFFICE: 13/03/1990
TOOK OFFICE: 13/03/1990 – LEFT OFFICE: 07/02/1991
TOOK OFFICE: 07/02/1991 – LEFT OFFICE: 29/09/1991
TOOK OFFICE: 29/09/1991 – LEFT OFFICE: 08/10/1991
TOOK OFFICE: 08/10/1991 – LEFT OFFICE: 19/06/1992
TOOK OFFICE: 19/06/1992 – LEFT OFFICE: 15/06/1993
TOOK OFFICE: 15/06/1993 – LEFT OFFICE: 12/05/1994
TOOK OFFICE: 12/05/1994 – LEFT OFFICE: 12/10/1994
TOOK OFFICE: 12/10/1994 – LEFT OFFICE: 07/02/1996
TOOK OFFICE: 07/02/1996 – LEFT OFFICE: 07/02/2001
TOOK OFFICE: 07/02/2001 – LEFT OFFICE: 29/02/2004
TOOK OFFICE: 29/02/2004 – LEFT OFFICE: 14/05/2006
TOOK OFFICE: 14/05/2006 – LEFT OFFICE: 14/05/2011
TOOK OFFICE: 14/05/2011 – LEFT OFFICE: 07/02/2016
TOOK OFFICE: 14/02/2016 – LEFT OFFICE: 07/02/2017
TOOK OFFICE: 07/02/2017 – INCUMBENT
TOOK OFFICE: 09/02/1988 – LEFT OFFICE: 20/06/1988
TOOK OFFICE: 13/02/1991 – LEFT OFFICE: 11/10/1991
TOOK OFFICE: 11/10/1991 – LEFT OFFICE: 19/06/1992
TOOK OFFICE: 19/06/1992 – LEFT OFFICE: 30/08/1993
TOOK OFFICE: 30/08/1993 – LEFT OFFICE: 08/11/1994
TOOK OFFICE: 08/11/1994 – LEFT OFFICE: 07/11/1995
TOOK OFFICE: 07/11/1995 – LEFT OFFICE: 27/02/1996
TOOK OFFICE: 27/02/1996 – LEFT OFFICE: 20/10/1997
TOOK OFFICE: 26/03/1999 – LEFT OFFICE: 02/03/2001
JEAN MARIE CHÉRESTAL
TOOK OFFICE: 02/03/2001 – LEFT OFFICE: 15/03/2002
TOOK OFFICE: 15/03/2002 – LEFT OFFICE: 12/03/2004
TOOK OFFICE: 12/03/2004 – LEFT OFFICE: 09/06/2006
TOOK OFFICE: 09/06/2006 – LEFT OFFICE: 05/09/2008
TOOK OFFICE: 05/09/2008 – LEFT OFFICE: 11/11/2009
TOOK OFFICE: 11/11/2009 – LEFT OFFICE: 18/10/2011
TOOK OFFICE: 18/10/2011 – LEFT OFFICE: 16/05/2012
TOOK OFFICE: 16/05/2012 – LEFT OFFICE: 20/12/2014
FLORENCE DUPERVAL GUILLAUME (acting)
TOOK OFFICE: 20/12/2014- LEFT OFFICE: 16/01/2015
TOOK OFFICE: 16/01/2015 – LEFT OFFICE: 26/02/2016
TOOK OFFICE: 26/02/2016 – LEFT OFFICE: 28/03/2016
TOOK OFFICE: 28/03/2016 – LEFT OFFICE: 21/03/2017
JACK GUY LAFONTANT
TOOK OFFICE: 21/03/2017 – INCUMBENT
The Citadelle Laferrière is a mountaintop fortress, located on the northern coast of Haiti – on the top of mountain Bonnet a L’Eveque. Depicted on local currency, stamps and postcards, this amazing structure has become the symbol of Haiti’s power and independence. It was built in the beginning of the 19th century by one of the leaders of Haiti’s slave revolution. The Citadelle Laferrière is also known simply as the Citadelle or as Citadelle Henri Christophe in the honour of its creator.
Official Website: www.citadellelaferriere.com
Information courtesy of citadelleferrier.com
This world-famous double-distilled rum is possibly Haiti’s most prominent export. The family business began on 18th March 1862 in Port-au-Prince and the rum was produced directly from sugar cane juice. One of Haiti’s oldest companies, the rum is widely regards among the finest rums in the world. The distillery which is now located just outside the city in the town of Damiens, is open to visitors. Knowledgeable and friendly staff offer guided tours and around the distillery. There is also the ability to taste the rum and buy the aged reserved rums at great prices!
Before the palace was partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1842, it was the royal residence of King Henri I (better known as Henri Christophe) of Haiti, Queen Marie-Louise and their two daughters. Henry Christophe was a former slave turned King and it is said that the impressiveness of the palace was to demonstrate to foreigners the power and capability of the black race. Before its destruction it was often compared to the Palace of Versailles in France, the Caribbean equivalent if you will. It was the most important of nine palaces built by the king, as well as fifteen châteaux, numerous forts, and sprawling summer homes on his twenty plantations. Construction of the palace started in 1810 and was completed 3 years later. Its name translated from French means “carefree”. Along with Citadelle and Site der Ramiers, the palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1492 Christopher Columbus landed on the Caribbean island we now know as Haiti, claiming it for the Spanish, and naming it Hispaniola. Soon after this, the New World’s first settlement was built at La Navidad on Haiti’s north coast. The island remained under Spanish control until 1698, when, subsequent to the treaty of Ryswick, it was split into two separate colonies; the Spanish stronghold of Santo Domingo, and France’s colony, St. Domingue or ‘The Pearl of the Antilles’, which would prove to be its most lucrative overseas territory.
The island was ruled over by these two colonial powers for the next 100 years, with trade in sugar, rum, coffee, and cotton flourishing. Meanwhile, the Spanish and French authorities were increasingly involved in the booming slave trade.
Jamaican-born Boukman was the first to sow the seeds of dissent by leading a slave revolt against the occupying powers in 1791. This broke out into a 13-year war of liberation waged by the slave armies on the colonists, and later Napoleon’s army. Toussaint L’Ouverture, leader of the revolution was deported to France by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, where he died a year later. His deputy General Jean-Jacques Dessalines took the reins and in 1803, the slave armies claimed victory over the French at the Battle of Vertières, and on the 1st January of the following year Dessalines declares the second republic, and the island is re-named ‘Haiti’, or ‘Ayiti’ in Creole, meaning “mountainous country”.
A mere two years after reclaiming its freedom from the French, Haiti returned to turmoil, with General Dessalines being assassinated in 1806, and a civil-war ravaging the country between 1807 and 1820. The island was divided into the northern kingdom of Henri Christophe and the southern republic governed by Alexandre Pétion. The conflict came to an end when Christophe, faced with a mutiny by his own men, was driven to suicide. After Cristophe’s death in 1820, Jean-Paul Boyer took on the role of president of the entire republic, leading the Haitians to independence from Spain in 1821.
In 1838 France recognised Haitian independence, but at a high price. Haiti was forced to take out crippling loans in order to pay the 150 million Franc indemnity demanded by the French for this ‘privilege’. In the meantime, the island continued to be shunned by other nations on account of its unruly reputation.
In 1915 U.S. Marines occupied Haiti, seizing control of its ports and custom houses. Despite organized resistance, they did not withdraw until 1934.
In 1937 tragedy struck Haiti, when the Dominican Republic President, Rafael Trujillo, gave the order for his soldiers to massacre thousands of Haitians residing near the border of the Dominican Republic.
After a series of failed attempts at democracy, military-controlled elections lead to Dr. Francois Duvalier being named President in 1957. The regime, as reinforced by the President’s henchmen the ‘Tonton Macoute’, became infamous for its brutality. In 1964 the corrupt Duvalier, better known as ‘Papa Doc’, changed the constitution to make himself ‘President-for-Life’. Tens of thousands of Haitians were killed or exiled during his ruthless dictatorship.
Subsequent to Duvalier’s death in 1971, the reins of power were handed to his 19-year-old son, Jean Claude. “Baby-Doc” equalled if not surpassed his father in cruelty, killing and torturing thousands. By the year of his ascendance to presidency, Haiti had become the poorest country in the western-hemisphere.
By 1986, massive demonstrations against Jean Claude Duvalier’s tyranny led the U.S. to intervene by arranging his exile to France. General Henri Namphy took his place as the head of a National Governing Council, and the following year a new constitution was ratified. However, in November 1987 the general elections were soon abandoned after dozens of people were shot at by militants and the Tonton Macoute.
In 1988 military controlled elections were held, and Leslie Manigat became Haiti’s President. His ousting by General Namphy four months later would be the first in a chain of political upheavals. In November 1988, General Prosper Avril seized power from Namphy, heading up a repressive regime with widespread censorship in place. However, by 1990 popular protests and pressure from the American Ambassador convinced Avril to resign, with democratic elections taking place in December. Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide was named President with 67.5% of the vote.
On returning from addressing the UN General Assembly in 1991, President Aristide faced a violent coup d’état staged by the military and was ousted. In the aftermath of the coup, the OAS called for an embargo on the de facto regime in Haiti, but this ultimately fails as goods continue to be smuggled through the Dominican Republic.
In July 1993, President Aristide and General Raoul Cédras signed the Governors Island Accord, calling for the retirement of Cédras, the return of the President, and the formation and training of a new civilian police force. General Cédras refused to step down as promised, and there was further unrest. The embargo on Haiti was reinforced by the UN, and human rights observers were brought in. The following year a naval blockade was backed by Argentine, Canadian, French, Dutch and U.S. warships.
In September 1994, U.S. President Clinton formed a multinational force with 20 other nations, which proceeded to land on the island after the coup leaders agree to leave the country. On October 15th, the exiled President Aristide and his Government returned to Haiti. Former Prime Minister, René Préval, won the elections to become President in December 1995.
Charges of corruption and fraud sully the municipal and legislative elections of 2000, leading to a boycott of the presidential elections later that year, which are won by Aristide. By 2004 Haiti’s economy was struggling, while human rights abuses and political violence were rife. This backdrop paves the way for yet another upheaval, with a rebel movement seizing power and forcing Aristide into exile.
During this tumultuous time, Boniface Alexandre assumed the interim authority, before René Préval was re-elected as President in February 2006. The elections were once again marred by corruption and uncertainty, and The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti remains in the country, having arrived there during the 2004 Haiti Rebellion.
The catastrophic Haiti earthquake of 2010 had devastating effects, leaving up to 217,300 people dead and 2.1 million homeless. Presidential elections planned for January 2010 were subsequently postponed, and in April 2011, President Michel Martelly won a landslide victory.
Information courtesy of havenpartnership.com