From an extensive history to beautiful and unexplored beaches, Haiti is a country full of secrets. Do you wish to discover these fun facts about Haiti – a country that fought day and night for its freedom? Then, read on to learn more.
- Fun Facts About Haiti
- 1. The Meaning Behind the Name “Haiti”
- 2. Haiti Was Once a French Colony
- 3. Haiti Became the First Country to Abolish Slavery
- 4. Haiti Has a Mountainous Terrain
- 5. Haiti Has Mass Deforestation
- 6. Haiti Has One of the Largest Cave Systems in the Caribbean
- 7. Haiti Experienced a Horrible Earthquake in 2010
- 8. Haitian Cuisine is Delicious
- 9. The US Invaded Haiti in 1915
- 10. The National Anthem of Haiti is Based on its Revolutionary Leader
- 11. Haiti Has a Coastline of 1,771 Kilometres
- 12. Haiti’s Official Language is French
- 13. Christianity is the Main Religion in Haiti
- 14. Haiti’s Flag Has an Interesting History
- 15. One in 50 Haitians has HIV/AIDS
- 16. The Largest Solar-Powered Hospital is in Haiti
- 17. Haiti Is Known for Exporting Coffee and Vetiver
- 18. There Is One UNESCO World Heritage Site in Haiti
- 19. Haiti Has Received Two Olympic Medals
- 20. Peanut Butter is Popular in Haiti!
- 21. Voodoo or Vodou is a Recognized Religion in Haiti
- 22. Haitians Love Cockfighting!
- 23. The Atlantic Hurricane Belt Covers Haiti
- 24. Yanvalou is the Traditional Dance of Haiti
- 25. Tap Taps are Common in Haiti
- Further Reading – Fun Facts About Haiti
Fun Facts About Haiti
Located between Cuba and Puerto Rico, Haiti is a part of the island of Hispaniola. The country is known for its legendary fight against slavery and colonialism. Its rich and captivating history has also contributed immensely to the culture and heritage of the country.
Unfortunately, Haiti has been in the news for facing the deadliest disasters, known to mankind. So, read these fun facts about Haiti if you want to know more about this strong and resilient island country!
1. The Meaning Behind the Name “Haiti”
Let’s start with some naming-related fun facts about Haiti!
You’ll find various differing opinions about the origin and meaning of the word “Haiti”.
Initially, the native tribes of Haiti, specifically Quisqueya, used to refer to Haiti as “Ayiti”. This Taíno term translates to “Flower of high land”, but the more popular meaning is “Mountainous land”.
When Christopher Columbus discovered Haiti, the country underwent several changes in its name. The Spanish colonists termed Haiti “Espanola”. Under French rule, its name was changed to Saint-Domingue.
Once the former slaves of the region gained independence in 1804, they renamed the country to its original name, “Ayiti” or “Haiti”.
The naming of Haiti is truly inspiring as the former slaves didn’t have any direct connection to the native tribes. Yet, they picked a name that represented the country’s heritage.
2. Haiti Was Once a French Colony
Here is one of the history-related fun facts about Haiti.
The Spaniards ruled over Haiti between 1492 and 1697. However, in 1697, they gave away the western part of the island to the French.
After 1697, Haiti’s name was changed to Saint-Dominigue under French rule. They continued to bring more than 800,000 Africans for slave labour in Haiti.
Sadly, these captured slaves worked under harsh conditions in sugar and coffee plantations. Some also worked in shops or as household servants.
The death rate of these slaves was high due to atrocious living conditions and abuse. In fact, the average lifespan of a slave was just around 21 years! It doesn’t sound too fun, right?
3. Haiti Became the First Country to Abolish Slavery
This is one of the most iconic fun facts about Haiti.
As you may already know, many countries have legally abolished the slave trade. Yet, out of these, Haiti became the first country to abolish and outlaw slavery.
After its gruesome history of slavery, the Haitian population revolted against the French colonisers between 1791 and 1803. This led to the death of over 345 thousand Haitians and around 75,000 white French people.
In 1793, the former slaves freed themselves from the colonisers and put an end to slavery.
4. Haiti Has a Mountainous Terrain
There’s a lot to talk about the historical fun facts about Haiti, but let’s get into its geography now.
Since Haiti is located in the Caribbean, you’d expect that it would consist of mainly coastal plains. However, this isn’t the case as the country boasts a mountainous terrain.
There are over five mountain ranges in Haiti, including Massif de la Hotte, Massif du Nord, Montagnes Noires, Chaîne de Marteaux, and Massif de la Selle. These cover an area of 75%.
Apart from the mountains, the country also has beautiful river valleys and coastal plains.
5. Haiti Has Mass Deforestation
Haiti is one of the most deforested countries as it doesn’t retain even 1% of its previous forest cover. There are many reasons for deforestation in Haiti, especially energy production and farming.
Haitians rely on wood burning for energy production. They also clear up lands for small-scale farming.
According to studies, it’s believed that the country may lose more than half of its flora and fauna species by 2035!
6. Haiti Has One of the Largest Cave Systems in the Caribbean
The cave is located just 45 minutes away from the lovely beach destination, Port Salut. It’s also the largest cave in Haiti as it extends for over 4 kilometres.
There are more than 36 known chambers, where the indigenous Haiti tribes were known to perform various sacred rituals. These chambers also became a hideout for the escaped slaves.
7. Haiti Experienced a Horrible Earthquake in 2010
This isn’t one of the fun facts about Haiti, but it’s a significant one for the country’s history.
The earthquake in Haiti is considered one of the worst disasters in the entire world as more than 220,000 people died. It took place on 12th January 2010 and had a magnitude of 7.0.
This earthquake left more than 300,000 people injured and over 1.5 million were left homeless! Another scary earthquake of magnitude 7.2 hit Haiti in 2021 and led to the death of over 2,200 people.
Despite a past full of tyranny and catastrophes, Haitians continue to remain courageous and high-spirited. This is truly inspiring.
8. Haitian Cuisine is Delicious
Due to Haiti’s history, you’ll find an amalgamation of flavours in the country’s cuisine. The dishes have an African, French, and even Spanish influence.
Some of the most popular dishes in Haiti include Poulet Aux Noix (Chicken and Cashew Nuts), Griyo (fried pork), and even Tassot (dried fried meat).
Poulet Aux Noix is a scrumptious combination of chicken in tomato and cashew-based sauce. Tassot consists of dried meat, which is then fried. It is often served with fried plantains.
Griyo or fried pork is equally delicious with its lemon and traditional spice marinade. It’s also the national dish of Haiti!
9. The US Invaded Haiti in 1915
Here are some political fun facts about Haiti.
1915 was a turbulent year for Haiti politically. In the same year, Haiti’s president, Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam, was assassinated. Hence, the country’s environment and law and order became unstable.
The then-president of the United States, Woodrow Wilson ordered and sent the United States Marines to Haiti to maintain the law and order of the country. Many suspect that the real intention was to get Haiti under control for business-related opportunities.
Hence, the US Marines continued to occupy the region till 1934! Between these years, two major rebellions took place, which again led to the death of thousands of Haitians.
10. The National Anthem of Haiti is Based on its Revolutionary Leader
The National Anthem of Haiti is known as “La Dessalinienne”. Its name is after the Haitian revolutionist and first ruler, Jean-Jacques Dessalines.
Jean-Jacques Dessalines was a former slave who became the leader of the legendary Haiti Revolution. He helped free the country from French rule and abolished slavery. Later on, he declared himself the leader of the independent state of Haiti.
The irony behind his rule is that his leadership was considered brutal and his own allies killed him for his authoritarian policies.
11. Haiti Has a Coastline of 1,771 Kilometres
As Haiti is the third largest country in the Caribbean, you cannot overlook its striking coastline. So, let’s dive into some of the coast-related fun facts about Haiti.
Haiti shares its 360-kilometre eastern border with the Dominican Republic, but the rest of the area is surrounded by water. Hence, it has a coastline that extends for 1,771 kilometres.
The Caribbean Sea covers Haiti toward the south and west, whereas the northern region is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.
You can find spectacular beaches in Haiti due to its elaborate coastline, including Côtes des Arcadins and Labadee Beach.
12. Haiti’s Official Language is French
Here are some fun facts about Haiti for language lovers.
Did you know that Haiti is the only other country, after Canada, in the American region that considers French as the official language? It’s mainly because the country was under French rule for over 100 years.
Today, more than 40% of the population speaks French, but it isn’t the most popular language.
Haitian Creole is also the official language of Haiti and the mother tongue of more than 95% of the population.
13. Christianity is the Main Religion in Haiti
Most Haitians believe in Christianity as more than 93% of the population believes in it.
Catholicism is the most popular denomination as it’s followed by 52% of Haitians, whereas 35% are Protestants, Seventh-day Adventists, and Methodists.
14. Haiti’s Flag Has an Interesting History
Let’s discuss some fun facts about Haiti and its flag.
Haiti’s flag consists of two horizontal bands of red and blue colour with a coat of arms in the centre. The coat of arms consists of a hilltop, which represents the mountainous terrain of the country. It also has a palm tree and weaponry on it.
There’s also a funny incident revolving around Haiti’s flag. In the Summer Olympics of 1936, both Liechtenstein and Haiti found out that their flags were pretty identical! Both had horizontal stripes of red and blue colours.
Hence, Liechtenstein added a crown to the flag whereas Haiti added a coat of arms to avoid confusion.
15. One in 50 Haitians has HIV/AIDS
This is one of the astonishing facts about Haiti.
Since 2008, the country has more than 2% of people suffering from HIV/AIDS. It has the highest number of HIV cases in the entire Caribbean region.
Thankfully, the number was brought down to 1.9% from 3.2% in the 1990s due to increased awareness of it and better health facilities.
16. The Largest Solar-Powered Hospital is in Haiti
The Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais in Mirebalais, Haiti is the largest solar-powered hospital in the entire world! It was built after the deadly Haiti earthquake and was inaugurated around May 2013.
This hospital has more than 1800 solar panels that help in the efficient functioning of the building.
17. Haiti Is Known for Exporting Coffee and Vetiver
Haiti offers many products to the world, especially vetiver and coffee.
I never knew what vetiver was until I dug in deep and found that it’s a type of fragrant grass! It is famous for its woodsy aroma. Hence, its oil is extensively used in the perfume and cosmetic industry.
You’ve to thank Haiti for your perfumes as it’s responsible for exporting almost half of the world’s vetiver! Also, 90% of it is exported to important perfume-making countries like France, Switzerland, and the United States.
18. There Is One UNESCO World Heritage Site in Haiti
The National History Park located in Milot, Haiti was declared an important UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.
The park is known for containing the ruins of two significant buildings – Sans-Souci Palace and the Citadelle Laferrière. These were the first buildings constructed by the freed slaves of Haiti. Hence, today, they’re seen as a symbol of liberty!
19. Haiti Has Received Two Olympic Medals
Haiti is a small country, but it has still won two Olympic medals till now!
In the 1928 Summer Olympics, Sylvio Cator received a silver medal in the long jump. Haiti’s free rifle shooting team also won a bronze medal in the 1924 Summer Olympics held in Paris, France.
20. Peanut Butter is Popular in Haiti!
Do you love peanut butter? Then, these fun facts about Haiti are for you!
Mamba, a type of spicy peanut butter, is an everyday condiment in Haiti. The natives love to spread it on Haitian bread!
It’s believed that this Haitian peanut butter came into existence around the Spanish occupation in 1697!
21. Voodoo or Vodou is a Recognized Religion in Haiti
I thought I was reading scary fun facts about Haiti until I realised that Voodoo (or Vodou) isn’t the same as how we imagine it!
Hollywood movies often show Voodoo as something evil and against nature. In Haiti, it’s a spiritual and magical way of life. You’ll find Vodou gurus who can cure any sickness or life problems!
Vodou became more prevalent for the oppressed slaves of the French-colonised Haiti. Today, around 50% of Haitians follow Vodou practices.
22. Haitians Love Cockfighting!
The national sport of Haiti is soccer, but the country’s craze for cockfighting remains unmatched.
In cockfighting, two cocks are fed raw meat and rum-soaked pepper to make them healthier and stronger. Then, they’re left to fight each other for about 30 minutes.
The winner ultimately receives around $60 to $70, which is more than the monthly salary of the majority of Haitians.
23. The Atlantic Hurricane Belt Covers Haiti
If you’re wondering why Haiti is constantly facing severe hurricanes and earthquakes, you should know these fun facts about Haiti.
The Atlantic Ocean has a specific area, the Atlantic Hurricane Belt, which is notorious for recurring hurricanes during the summer and autumn seasons! Furthermore, it doesn’t help that the entire region of Haiti falls under this belt.
24. Yanvalou is the Traditional Dance of Haiti
This is one of the most unique cultural fun facts about Haiti!
As I mentioned earlier, many Haitians practise the Vodou religion. The Yanvalou is a type of Afro-Haitian dance form that takes place in several Vodou rituals to invoke the higher deities.
The dance form is quite unique as it involves fast movements such as rapidly spinning in a way that the dancers lose consciousness and enter into a state of daze!
25. Tap Taps are Common in Haiti
This is one of the most unusual fun facts about Haiti.
As cars are quite uncommon in Haiti due to the lack of finances, most Haitians use tap taps. These are second-hand buses purchased from the US. The best part about these vehicles is their beautiful and lively art.
Most tap taps have vibrant drawings on them which add to the coastal beauty and the culture of the country!
Further Reading – Fun Facts About Haiti
Despite the various struggles that Haiti has faced, the country’s people remain strong and continue to live their lives with full vigour and enthusiasm. I hope these fun facts about Haiti helped you know more about this lovely country.
You can also read more such blog posts for other Caribbean countries on my website: