Haiti, or officially the Republic of Haiti, is a Caribbean country occupying the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago as shared to the Dominican Republic. It also occupies a small satellite of islands, including Cow Island, Port Morgan, and Abaka Bay resorts.
Haiti's regional, historical, and ethno-linguistic position is unique due to several reasons. The country was originally inhabited by the indigenous Taino people, before being first discovered by Christopher Columbus during his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. When Columbus first landed in then Western Hispaniola, he thought he had already found India or Asia. His flagship, the Santa Maria, sank after running aground on the 25th of December in the north coast of present-day Haiti. Deciding to establish a settlement in the area, a contingent of men were left at an outpost christened La Navidad, because the wreck occurred on Christmas, north of what is now Limonade. After the said period, Haiti gained its independence in 1804, earning the title as the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean. It was also the second republic successful in defending its independence against a colonial European power in the Americas, and the only nation in the western hemisphere to have defeated three European superpowers namely Britain, France, and Spain. It is also the only nation in the world established as a result of a slave revolt.
Up until today, and even amidst all its natural beauty, Haiti still faces various challenges. Just recently, the country experienced a massive earthquake that has destroyed not only infrastructure but the lives of its people. But, as their ancestors would have done back in the day, the Haitians remain resilient, strong, and ready to face challenges – ultimately rebuilding shattered cities and finding lost hopes.
What to see & do
While security situation has improved in Haiti and infrastructures have been rebuilt to replace the destroyed ones, political tension still remains in the country, and most areas are still subject to criminal lawlessness. Looting, roadblocks set up by armed gangs, and other crimes are very much present in the country. Haiti is also faced with the world's most serious ongoing cholera epidemic as of the moment. If travelling to the area, make sure to be in the know of the safe zones, where to go, and who to contact. The beaches are still pristine and lovely, the history and post-colonial vibe are still intact, but the prevailing unrest and poverty might put you off. Best areas to check out though (and probably the safest) include Labadee and Jacmel. Labadee is a resort leased long-term by Royal Caribbean International. It is a port located on the country's northern coast, and although sometimes described as an island in its own right, it is actually contiguous with the rest of Haiti and Hispaniola. Labadee is fenced off from the surrounding area, making it a relatively safe place to visit. Cruise ships arrive here and dock at a newly constructed pier. Attractions include a beach, a traditional Haitian Flea Market, cultural Haitian performances, a waterpark, and other water activities. Jacmel, on the other hand, is a less politically volatile area filled with French colonial-era architecture. It now attracts a small amount of international tourism and huge number of locals who would want to join in its colourful cultural carnival. Beaches are also a thing here, and a nascent film festival is becoming popular.
How to get around within Haiti
By chauffeur – Travellers are very much welcome to hire chauffeurs. Chauffeurs are locals who drive their own vehicles for rent on a daily or even weekly basis. These people technically drive their passengers/customers around the city and act as a tour guide, an interpreter, and even a friend, telling which restaurants are great and which places are great for overnights.
By car – if not keen on having a personal chauffeur, travellers may also hire cars and drive their way around the country. Most cars come in the form of SUVs or trucks, since most roads are long overdue for repairs and many areas are not paved. Cars can be rented within the city centres, and are basically safer as compared to riding public transport.
By bus – buses, or locally known as tap-taps, are the economical solution to travelling around Haiti. They are cheap, plenty, and will take you to various destinations around Port-au-Prince and the rest of the country.
How to get there
The Toussaint Louverture International Airport is the primary international airport of Haiti. It is located in Tabarre, near Port-au-Prince in Haiti. Airlines that travel to the destination include Aero Caribbean, Air Canada Rouge, Air France, Aerolineas Mas, American Airlines, LIAT, and many others.
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