What was Haiti originally known as?
The island was promptly claimed for the Spanish Crown, where it was named La Isla Española ("the Spanish Island"), later Latinized to Hispaniola. By the early 17th century, the French had built a settlement on the west of Hispaniola and called it Saint-Domingue.
Two months after his defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte's colonial forces, Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaims the independence of Saint-Domingue, renaming it Haiti after its original Arawak name. In 1791, a revolt erupted on the French colony, and Toussaint Louverture, a formerly enslaved man, took control of the rebels.
The Tragic Hope of Revolutionary Haiti
Haiti, then known as Saint-Domingue, had been the crown jewel of the French empire. It was the most lucrative colony in the whole world. French planters forced African slaves to produce sugar, coffee, and other cash crops for the global market. The system seemed to work well.
When Haitians took their independence in 1804, they changed their colonial name from Saint Domingue (the name given by the French) to its Taino name of Haiti or Ayiti in Kreyòl.
Before Columbus' arrival, Haiti had been known by a few names: “Ayiti” by the native population, “Quisqueya” to the people on surrounding islands, and “Bohio” as well. “Ayiti” comes from the Taíno, meaning “Flower of high land” which is more commonly translated as “Mountainous land”.
Italian navigator Christopher Columbus sighted Quisqueya on Dec. 6, 1492, and named it La Isla Española (“The Spanish Island”), later Anglicized as Hispaniola.
The Spanish first called the three-named island, La Isla Espanola (before Santo Domingo), later mispronounced and known by its diminutive, Hispaniola. On January 1st 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the victorious insurgents gave the WHOLE island its ancient name, Hayti.
Saint-Domingue, located in the Caribbean Sea, was a French colony from 1697 to 1804 and is today the independent nation of Haiti.
The island was initially claimed by Spain, which later ceded the western third of the island to France. Prior to gaining its independence in 1804, Haiti was the French colony of Saint-Domingue.
The French government finally acknowledged the payment of 90 million francs in 1888 and over a period of about seventy years, Haiti paid 112 million francs to France, about $560 million in 2022.
What language did Haitians speak before French?
Before the French colonists arrived on the island of Hispaniola in the 17th century, Taino was the main language of Haiti as well as the rest of the Caribbean Islands. As the Haitian natives began to mingle with the slave dealers and settlers, the language of Haitian Creole began to develop.
|Date||21 August 1791 – 1 January 1804 (12 years, 4 months, 1 week and 4 days)|
|Result||Haitian victory French colonial government expelled Massacre of the French|
|Territorial changes||Independent Empire of Haiti established|
Hispaniola, Spanish La Española, second largest island of the West Indies, lying within the Greater Antilles, in the Caribbean Sea. It is divided politically into the Republic of Haiti (west) and the Dominican Republic (east).
Haiti was once called 'The Pearl of the Antilles' thanks to its lush forests and strategic location as a gateway to the Caribbean. The prevailing stories about Haiti in the international press tend to focus on its disadvantages, but several aspects of Haiti continue to support its nickname.
Before the arrival of Europeans, Arawak (also known as Taino) and Carib Indians inhabited the island of Hispaniola. Although researchers debate the total pre-Columbian population (estimates range from 60,000 to 600,000), the detrimental impact of colonization is well documented.