7 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Haiti

06/10/21

Haiti is a beautiful country filled with generous people, scenic landscapes, and a unique culture. Here are 7 facts you probably didn’t know about the “Pearl of the Antilles.”

 

1) It is home to the world’s largest solar-powered hospital.

 

 

The Hospital Universitaire de Mirebalais was built after the devastating 2010 earthquake. It is equipped with 1,800 solar panels and produces more than 100% of the energy the hospital needs. Many people in Haiti don’t have access to electricity and rely on kerosene oil for light. Solar power is a clean, safe, reliable, and cost-effective solution to this problem. (Photo from pih.org)

 

2) Haiti has surviving cave paintings.

 

          

This cave art was left by the Taino people, who lived in Haiti before the arrival of European colonists and African slaves. They left pictography, which are painted pictures, and petroglyphs, which are engravings in rocks.

 

3) It has the most mountains of any Caribbean nation.

 

    

 

The word “Haiti” comes from the word “Ayiti,” meaning “Land of Mountains” in the Taino language. Haiti’s highest peak is Pic la Selle, which stands at 8,793 feet above sea level. (Photo from worldatlas.com)

 

4) One of its islands was occupied by pirates.

 

A seventeenth-century map of Tortuga.

 

During the 17th century, Tortuga, an island off the northern coast of Haiti, was a stronghold for pirates. French and English settlers first planned to settle on the island of Hispaniola (on what is now Haiti) but fled to Tortuga after the Spanish settlers arrived in Hispaniola. These French and English settlers then turned to piracy. It was from this group that the word “buccaneers” first emerged. (Photo from wikipedia.com. Public Domain) 

 

5) Haiti has high levels of biodiversity.

 

                         

Haiti is home to at least 5,600 species of plants, some of which can only be found in Haiti. The hibiscus is Haiti’s national flower.

 

6) Haiti was once rich in natural resources.

 

 

During the 18th century, Haiti became the French’s richest colony by exporting sugarcane, coffee, and indigo. It was known as the “Pearl of the Antilles” because of this. But the French’s aggressive agricultural practices caused massive deforestation throughout Haiti. Today, Haitians are still suffering from the effects of these practices. 

 

7) It is home to the first Caribbean city with electricity. 

 

Children of the Nations–Haiti’s staff and board members in Jacmel. 

 

In 1925, the city of Jacmel became the first place to have electricity in the Caribbean, which is why it is known as the “City of Light.”