Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Hayti (Haiti), or San Domingo, a large West Indian island, lying to the south-east of Cuba and east of Jamaica. It is divided into Hayti, the western and smaller part of the island, and the republic of San Domingo or "Dominican Republic" (not to be confused with Dominica, q.v.), the larger eastern, portion. Discovered by

Columbus in 1492, its history has probably been more troublous than that of any country in the world. The Spaniards soon almost exterminatecl the original inhabitants, and African negroes, first introduced in 1505, or their mulatto offspring, form a very large section of the population. French buccaneers soon after came from the island of Tortuga to Hayti, and settled chiefly in the western half of the island. This portion was ceded to France by the Treaty of Ryswick (1697). There were thus three races: the whites, the blacks, and the mulattoes. The last of these were free, but enjoyed no political power, till in 1791 a bitter race struggle broke out, which ended in the extermination of the Europeans. A French expedition defeated and captured the coloured leader Toussaint l'Ouverture (q.v.) in 180], but France was unable to maintain her hold upon the island, and in 1804 Dessalines took the title of Emperor of Hayti. Revolution now followed revolution, the island being sometimes one, sometimes divided; the government, at one time monarchical, at another republican. For a time there was peace under the rule of President Boyes, who governed the whole island from 1822-43; and the independence of Hayti proper was acknowledged by France in 1825 in consideration of pecuniary compensation to the planters. In 1843 the Dominican Republic was formed; but in Hayti, Sonlouque in 1849 assumed the title of emperor. Ten years later, however, a republic was proclaimed. In 1867 it was enacted that a president should hold office for four years, but this he has seldom been able to do. In 1889 Hippolyte drove President Legitime from the island and took his place. The government and the state of society of Hayti may be described 'as the worst in the world. The religion is nominally Christian, but serpent worship and cannibalism are by no means unknown. The area of the whole island is 29,830 square miles, and of Hayti 9,242. The soil of Hayti is fertile, but is badly cultivated. Cotton, rice, yams, tobacco, maize, cocoa, and several fruits are among the natural products; and mango, sugar, coffee, and indigo are grown. Mahogany, satinwood, and rosewood are obtained from the forests. The island is mountainous, as its name betokens; the highest peak, Lorna Tina, is over 10,000 feet high. Earthquakes are frequent, but there are no volcanoes. The rivers are unimportant, but there is a large salt lake, Euriquillo, near the centre of the southern coast. There are heavy rains in May and June, and hurricanes are not infrequent.

The commercial state of the republic of Hayti is naturally not prosperous. The chief exports are coffee, cocoa, cotton, logwood, and mahogany; the imports come chiefly from the United States. There is a large floating debt, and the army and navy are insignificant, while the public service is corrupt. The estimates of revenue and expenditure are generally held to be valueless. The language (in Hayti proper) is a corrupt French. Port-au-Prince is the chief town in Hayti. The Bay, of Gonaives contains excellent harbours; in it is the island of Gonaives belonging to the republic. To the north is Tortuga, also attached to Hayti. An interesting description of the country by Sir Spenser St. John, formerly Consul-General (Hayti; or, the Black Republic), was published in 1884.