Hispaniola is the second largest island in the Caribbean and the second most populated as well. Hispaniola is shared by two island nations with one third of the island being Haiti and the remainder of the island being The Dominican Republic. There is only one other island in the Caribbean that shares itself and that is the island of St Martin with one side being Dutch and the other French.
Where is Hispaniola?
Hispaniola island lye’s in the Caribbean sea , just East of Cuba and just west of Puerto Rico. The island is part of the Greater Antilles island group.
In 1492, on his first voyage to the new world the imperialist captain Christopher Columbus named the island La Isla Espanola which was somewhat shortened to Hispaniola. The island proved to be a perfect central location for the Spanish to control other islands such as Cuba, Panama, Mexico and South America. As the colonial period was getting started the island was called Santo Domingo named after the capital city which today has the same name.
The island of Hispaniola has a series of mountain ranges as well as plains, valleys and costal beaches. The climate varies depending on the geographic location .The highest peak is Duaarte mountain in Cordikera Central in fact 1/3 of the island is above 1,500 feet in elevation.
Coffee plantations are to be found in the more humid mountain ranges. Cacao is grown on the heavily populated eastern section due to its humid weather. Tobacco can be found in upper Yaque plain and rice in the lower eastern plain. Sugarcane is the king crop on the northern coast. To the southwestern part of the island the elevation gets quite low in fact one lake bottom is 150ft below sea level. There are many rivers running through the island with the two biggest being Yaque del sur and the Yaque del norte.
When combining both economy’s of the island nations , The Dominican republic and Haiti, you have the largest economy in the Greater Antilles with most coming from The Dominican Republic. The economic differences of the countries are reflected in the annual per person income with Haiti at US $1,500 per year and The Dominican republic being US $10,200 per year a whopping 800% difference.
The capital city of the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo is the largest city in the Caribbean with a population of 2,799,600. It is also the oldest city in the Americas founded in 1496 also sharing the oldest cathedral as well. Santo Domingo is cosmopolitan and vibrant with night life, high rise building , universities and a active port.
Haiti’s capital city of Port au Prince has the 3rd largest population in the Caribbean at 1,728,100. The city was made famous recently by the devastating 7.0 Earthquake on January 12, 2010 with its epicenter being just 16 miles to the north of the capital city. Many of the landmark building where damaged or destroyed by the earthquake.
Port au Prince starts its day early and is bustling by 9am. There are many things to see around the city such as the Palace (under reconstruction).
You can get a one on one tour of The National Museum for only US$1 a great place to learn of Haitian history. Cathedral of our Lady the largest cathedral on the island (also under reconstruction) is just down the way from the palace
For a day trip go just 45 minutes from the city to Fort Jaques national park. The mountainous park affords great views of the city below and the preserved pine forest.