The western section of the island of Hispaniola and smaller islands such as Gonâve, Tortue, Grande Caye, and Vache make up Haiti, a country in the Caribbean Sea. But did you ever wonder what race Haitians belonged to?
According to Haiti’s constitution, all Haitians are deemed black in the eyes of the law, regardless of their actual skin color. Although people of various ethnic and national backgrounds have inhabited Haiti, the majority of the population is of African descent.
Who Discovered Haiti?
The European voyager Christopher Columbus disembarked on a vast island in the western Atlantic Ocean region that subsequently became known as the Caribbean on December 5, 1492, honoring the beginning of Haiti’s recorded history.
It was home to the Tano and Arawakan people, who dubbed their islands Ayiti, Bohio, and Kiskeya, respectively Quisqueya. Columbus claimed the island for the Spanish Crown almost instantly, christening it La Isla Espaola, the Spanish Island, which later on Latinized to Hispaniola.
On December 5, 1492, Columbus disembarked from the island of Hispaniola and discovered a country headed by a cacique, or Taino Indian leader. In the seventeenth century, the French came to the Western Hemisphere to continue European exploration and exploitation.
The indigenous people were largely wiped out. As a result, Africans, those mainly originating from West Africa, were brought in as slave labor to create raw materials for worldwide trade.
In the eighteenth century, Haiti, the wealthiest colony of France, was recognized as the pearl of the Antilles, and Haitians revolted against the French from 1791 until 1804.
One of the most significant effects of the revolution was Napoleon Bonaparte’s forced sale of Louisiana to the United States in 1803, resulting in the United States’ substantial territorial expansion. (Source: Britannica)
The Earthquake That Destroyed Haiti
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a large-scale earthquake that struck the West Indian island of Hispaniola on January 12, 2010, affecting the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Haiti, which occupies the western part of the island, was the most affected and was brutally hit by the calamity.
In the subsequent turmoil, a precise casualty toll became elusive. Although some estimations were much lower, the official death count was over 300,000. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced as a result of the catastrophe.
The earthquake pummeled at 4:53 PM for about 15 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince. The first shock had a magnitude of 7.0, and two aftershocks with magnitudes of 5.9 and 5.5 followed quickly.
The earthquake was generated by contractional deformation along the Léogâne fault, a minor hidden thrust fault located underneath the city of Léogâne.
The failure of the electric power system, the loss of communication lines, and roads choked by debris impeded efforts by individuals and international humanitarian organizations to bring medical assistance, food, and water to survivors in the aftermath of the earthquake.
The earthquake has affected three million individuals or almost one-third of the country’s total population. Over one million people were displaced as a result of the disaster. (Source: Britannica)