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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Native name: La Española (Spanish), Hispaniola (French)
View of Haitian Landscape hispaniola.jpg
View from Hispaniola
Caribbean - Hispaniola.PNG
Location Caribbean Sea
Archipelago Greater Antilles
Major islands Île de la Gonâve, Tortuga, Île à Vache, Isla Saona
Area 76,480 km2 (29,529 sq mi) (22nd)
Coastline 3,059 km (1,901 mi)
Highest point Pico Duarte (3,098 m (10,164 ft))
Haiti Haiti
Largest city Port-au-Prince
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic
Largest city Santo Domingo
Population 18,943,000[1] (as of 2005)
Density 241.5 /km2 (625 /sq mi)

Hispaniola (from Spanish La Española) is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west, and Puerto Rico to the east, directly within the hurricane belt. Hispaniola is perhaps most famous as the site of the first European colonies in the New World, colonies founded by Christopher Columbus on his voyages in 1492 and 1493. It is the tenth most populous island in the world, and the most populous in the Americas. It is the 22nd largest island in the world.

The island bears various Amerindian names that supposedly originated from the indigenous Taíno that once populated the island. Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo and Bartolomé de las Casas documented that the island was called Haití ("Mountainous Land") by the Taíno inhabitants. Pietro Martyr d'Anghiera added another name, Quizqueia (supposedly "Mother of all Lands") however later research shows that the word doesn't seem to have derived from the original Arawak language.[2]

Although Haití was the Taíno name verified to be used by the Amerindians on the island and was subsequently used by all three historians, evidence suggests that it probably was not the Taíno name of the whole island. Haití was the Taíno name of a region in what is now the northeastern section of present day Dominican Republic (now known as Los Haitises). In the oldest documented map of the island, created by Andrés de Morales, that region is named Montes de Haití ("Haiti Mountains"). Las Casas apparently named the whole island Haití on the basis of that particular region;[3] d'Anghiera said that the name of one part was given to the whole island.[2]

In the present day both terms are used to refer to their respective countries. The name "Haïti" was adopted as the official name of the republic of the same name by Haitian revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines as an ode of tribute to the Amerindian predecessors. The word Quisqueya (from Quizqueia) is used to refer to the Dominican Republic.

When Columbus took possession of the island, he named it La Española, meaning "The Spanish (Island)". When d'Anghiera detailed his account of the island in Latin, he translated the name as Hispaniola. Because Anghiera's literary work was translated into English and French in a short period of time, the name "Hispaniola" is the most frequently used term in English-speaking countries regarding the island in scientific and cartographic works.

The colonial terms Saint-Domingue and Santo Domingo are sometimes still applied when referring to the whole island when both names factually refer to their respective countries.



Early map of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, circa 1639.

Christopher Columbus arrived at the island during his first voyage to America in 1492. During his arrival he founded the settlement of La Navidad on the north coast of present day Haiti. On his return the subsequent year, following the disbandment of La Navidad, Columbus quickly founded a second settlement farther east in present day Dominican Republic, La Isabela, which became the first permanent European settlement in the Americas and today is the second largest Caribbean island.[citation needed]

The island was inhabited by the Taínos, one of the indigenous Arawak peoples. The Taino were at first tolerant of Columbus and his crew, and helped him to construct La Navidad on what is now Môle Saint-Nicolas, Haiti, in December 1492. European colonization of the island began earnestly the following year, when 1,300 men arrived from Spain under the watch of Bartolomeo Columbus. In 1496 the town of Nueva Isabela was founded. After being destroyed by a hurricane, it was rebuilt on the opposite side of the Ozama River and called Santo Domingo. It is the oldest permanent European settlement in the Americas. The Taino population of the island was rapidly decimated, owing to a combination of disease and harsh treatment by Spanish overlords. In 1501, the colony began to import African slaves, believing them more capable of performing physical labor. The natives lacked immunity to smallpox and entire tribes were extinguished.[4] From an estimated initial population of 250,000 in 1492, the Arawaks had dropped to 14,000 by 1517.[5]

In 1574, a census taken of the Greater Antilles, reported 1,000 Spaniards and 12,000 African slaves on Hispaniola.[6]

As Spain conquered new regions on the mainland of the Americas, its interest in Hispaniola waned, and the colony's population grew slowly. By the early 17th century, the island and its smaller neighbors (notably Tortuga) became regular stopping points for Caribbean pirates. In 1606, the king of Spain ordered all inhabitants of Hispaniola to move close to Santo Domingo, to avoid interaction with pirates. Rather than secure the island, however, this resulted in French, English and Dutch pirates establishing bases on the now-abandoned north and west coasts of the island.

In 1665, French colonization of the island was officially recognized by King Louis XIV. The French colony was given the name Saint-Domingue, which became present-day Haiti. In the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick, Spain formally ceded the western third of the island to France. Saint-Domingue quickly came to overshadow the east in both wealth and population. Nicknamed the "Pearl of the Antilles," it became the richest and most prosperous colony in the West Indies and one of the wealthiest in the world, cementing its status as the most important port in the Americas for goods and products flowing to and from Europe. After independence for Haiti, this reversed and Haiti became one of the poorest countries in the Americas and the Dominican Republic developed into the largest economy of Central America and the Caribbean.


Topographic map of Hispaniola

Hispaniola is the second-largest island in the Caribbean (after Cuba), with an area of 76,480 square kilometers (29,530 sq mi). Haiti has 10,620 square miles (27,500 km2); the Dominican Republic 18,704 square miles (48,440 km2).[7]

The island of Cuba lies 80 kilometers (50 mi) to the northwest across the Windward Passage; to the southwest lies Jamaica, separated by the Jamaica Channel. Puerto Rico lies east of Hispaniola across the Mona Passage. The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands lie to the north. Its westernmost point is known as Cap Carcasse.

Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico are collectively known as the Greater Antilles. The Greater Antilles are made up of continental rock, as distinct from the Lesser Antilles, which are mostly young volcanic or coral islands.

The island has five major mountain ranges: The Central Range, known in the Dominican Republic as the Cordillera Central, spans the central part of the island, extending from the south coast of the Dominican Republic into northwestern Haiti, where it is known as the Massif du Nord. This mountain range boasts the highest peak in the Antilles, Pico Duarte at 3,087 meters (10,128 ft) above sea level. The Cordillera Septentrional runs parallel to the Central Range across the northern end of the Dominican Republic, extending into the Atlantic Ocean as the Samaná Peninsula. The Cordillera Central and Cordillera Septentrional are separated by the lowlands of the Cibao Valley and the Atlantic coastal plains, which extend westward into Haiti as the Plaine du Nord (Northern Plain). The lowest of the ranges is the Cordillera Oriental, in the eastern part of the country.

The Sierra de Neiba rises in the southwest of the Dominican Republic, and continues northwest into Haiti, parallel to the Cordillera Central, as the Montagnes Noires, Chaîne des Matheux and the Montagnes du Trou d'Eau. The Plateau Central lies between the Massif du Nord and the Montagnes Noires, and the Plaine de l'Artibonite lies between the Montagnes Noires and the Chaîne des Matheux, opening westward toward the Gulf of Gonâve, the largest gulf of the Antilles.

The southern range begins in the southwestern most Dominican Republic as the Sierra de Bahoruco, and extends west into Haiti as the Massif de la Selle and the Massif de la Hotte, which form the mountainous spine of Haiti's southern peninsula. Pic de la Selle is the highest peak in the southern range, the third highest peak in the Antilles and consequently the highest point in Haiti, at 2,680 meters (8,790 ft) above sea level. A depression runs parallel to the southern range, between the southern range and the Chaîne des Matheux-Sierra de Neiba. It is known as the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac in Haiti, and Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince lies at its western end. The depression is home to a chain of salt lakes, including Lake Azuei in Haiti and Lake Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic.


Haiti has 9 million inhabitants, the Dominican Republic, 9.6 million. Life expectancy is 61 years in Haiti, 73.7 years in the Dominican Republic. Literacy rate (over 15 years old) is 52.9% in Haiti, 87% in the Dominican Republic.[7]



Personal income

Annual per capita income is $1,300 in Haiti, $8,200 in the Dominican Republic.[7]


The climate of Hispaniola is generally humid and tropical. The island has four distinct ecoregions. The Hispaniolan moist forests ecoregion covers approximately 50% of the island, especially the northern and eastern portions, predominantly in the lowlands but extending up to 2,100 meters (6,900 ft) elevation. The Hispaniolan dry forests ecoregion occupies approximately 20% of the island, lying in the rain shadow of the mountains in the southern and western portion of the island and in the Cibao valley in the center-north of the island. The Hispaniolan pine forests occupy the mountainous 15% of the island, above 850 metres (2,790 ft) elevation. The flooded grasslands and savannas ecoregion in the south central region of the island surrounds a chain of lakes and lagoons in which the most notable include that of Lake Azuei and Trou Caïman in Haiti and the nearby Lake Enriquillo in the Dominican Republic.

See also


  1. ^ United Nations World Population Prospects (2008 edition)
  2. ^ a b Anglería, Pedro Mártir de (1949) (in Spanish). Décadas del Nuevo Mundo, Tercera Década, Libro VII. Buenos Aires: Editorial Bajel. 
  3. ^ Las Casas, Fray Bartolomé de (1966) (in Spanish). Apologética Histórica Sumaria. Mexico: UNAM. 
  4. ^ "History of Smallpox - Smallpox Through the Ages". Texas Department of State Health Services.
  5. ^ A Conqueror More Lethal Than the Sword. US News and World Report. February 5, 2007. 
  6. ^ Morison, Samuel Eliot (1972). The Oxford History of the American People. New York City: Mentor. p. 71. ISBN 0-451-62600-1. 
  7. ^ a b c Bello, Marisol (21 January 2010). "Hispaniola comparison". USA Today. 

External links

Coordinates: 19°00′N 70°40′W / 19°N 70.667°W / 19; -70.667

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

North America : Caribbean : Hispaniola

Hispaniola is a Caribbean island that was explored and claimed by Columbus on his first voyage in 1492 and became a springboard for Spanish conquest of the Caribbean and the American mainland. Today it encompasses two separate countries:

  • Dominican Republic - Occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island.
  • Haiti - Occupies the western third of the island.
This article is a disambiguation page. If you arrived here by following a link from another page you can help by correcting it, so that it points to the appropriate disambiguated page.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun


  1. An island in the Caribbean, comprising the nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic


Spanish Wikipedia has an article on:
La Española

Wikipedia es

Simple English

Topographic map of Hispaniola
LocationCaribbean Sea
Area76,480 km2 (29,529 sq mi)
Highest pointPico Duarte (3,087 m)
   Dominican Republic
PresidentLeonel Fernández
Capital citySanto Domingo (913,540)
(Metro: 2,253,437)
PresidentRené Préval
Capital cityPort-au-Prince (1,900,000)
Population18,072,315 (as of July 2007)

Hispaniola is an island located in the Caribbean Sea. It is the second largest island (after Cuba) of the West Indies, east of Cuba and west of Puerto Rico.

The Republic of Haiti occupies the western third, the Dominican Republic the rest. Hispaniola is one of two Caribbean islands in which there are two countries; the other is Saint Martin.



Pre-Columbian history

When Columbus arrived to America, some groups of native people, coming from northern South America, had lived in the Caribbean Islands since a very long time. That movement from South America to the Caribbean islands was not continuous but it happened in several waves during almost twelve centuries.

Archeological studies suggests that those people from South America came to the Caribbean islands during four periods.

The first period began around 5000 B.C. For most Caribbean islands, this period ended around 2000 years ago except in Cuba and Hispaniola where there were some small populations in western Cuba and southwestern Hispaniola when the Europeans arrived to these islands.[1] They were called Ciboney or Siboney by the Taínos, meaning "man that lives among rocks" (Ciba means stone and eyeri man).[2]

The second group was the Igneri, the first Arawak Indians to come to the Caribbean Islands. They displaced the Ciboney people and, later, they were displaced by another group of Arawak Indians, the Taínos. Taínos occupied all the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola and Puerto Rico) and they developed a culture different from the culture of the Arawaks of South America. They were the first people that the Spanish met in the Americas.

The fourth and last group was the Carib. The Carib were also Arawaks but with a different language. Even if they used to go to Puerto Rico and the Hispaniola to fight against the Taínos, they were found only in the Lesser Antilles when Columbus got to America.

At the moment when the Spanish came to the Hispaniola, most of the island was occupied by Taínos; only in the western tip of the Southern Peninsula (in modern Haiti), there were some small groups of Ciboney In the northeastern part of the island (Samaná Peninsula and north of the Northern mountain range), there was a group called Ciguayos, and sometimes Macorix, with the same culture of the Taínos but a different language. It seems that they were Carib that took the Taíno culture.[3] They were the first Indians that fought against the Europeans.[4]

Discovery, conquest and colony

[[File:|thumb|Early map of Hispaniola]] Christopher Columbus arrived to the island on December 5, 1492, naming it as La Española, meaning The Spanish Island. When Peter Martyr d'Anghiera wrote in latin about this island, he wrote Hispaniola, meaning Small Spain; that was not correct. Because the book of Anghiera was translated into English very soon, the name Hispaniola is the most used in English-speaking countries and in scientific works.

For centuries, other names were used for the island. The most common were Santo Domingo Island (the Dominican constitution still uses that name) and Haiti.

Hispaniola was the only island that Columbus visited in all his four travels to the Americas. He saw the island for the first time on December 5, 1492 but he stayed on his ship during the night; the next day, he went to land. The Spaniards spent the rest of December traveling along the north coast of Haiti; on December 12, Columbus took possession of the island in the name of the King and Queen of Spain and named the island as "La Española".[5]

On Christmas Eve, December 24, the main ship ("Santa María") was badly damaged. The next day, Christmas Day, Columbus gave orders to use the wood of the ship to build a small fort on what is now Môle Saint-Nicolas, Haiti. That fort was named La Navidad ("Navidad" means Christmas) and was the first European building on American soil. Columbus left 39 men there because there was not space in the other two ships for all the people.

From "La Navidad", they traveled east along the north coast of the island and in Samaná they had a small fight with some natives ("Ciguayos", not Taíno Indians) and named the bay as "Golfo de las Flechas" (Gulf of the Arrows), but now is called "Samaná Bay". From there, they went back to Spain.

In 1493, Columbus found, when he returned in his second trip, that "La Navidad" was destroyed by the Indians and all Spaniards killed. Then he went to the east, founding the first European city in the American continent, near the present city of Puerto Plata; he named the city "La Isabela" in honor of Queen Isabella of Castile.[6] The first Catholic mass in America was celebrated at La Isabela on January 6, 1494. From La Isabela, Columbus sent groups of persons to explore and take control of the island.

Because La Isabela was an unhealthy site, Bartholomew Columbus, brother of Christopher, established a new city, La Nueva Isabela (The New Isabela) on the south coast of the island, on the left side of the Ozama river. Because a hurricane destroyed the city, it was built again but on the right side of the river and with the new name of Santo Domingo. It is the oldest permanent European city in the Americas.

The Taíno population of the island decreased very fast because a combination of new diseases, like smallpox, and abuses by the Spaniards. Even if some black slaves were brought from Spain since 1501, the colony began to import African slaves when the colony began to grow sugar cane, around 1516, to produce sugar.[7]

Spain kept conquering new regions of the Americas and, for the Spanish people, those new regions were more interesting because there was more gold; the population of the island grew very slowly. By the early 17th century, the island and its smaller neighbors (above all, the Tortuga island) became places often visited by Caribbean pirates. In 1606, the king of Spain gave the order that all inhabitants of Hispaniola had to move close to the city of Santo Domingo, to avoid interaction with pirates and Protestant people. This resulted in French, British and Dutch pirates establishing bases on the abandoned north and west coasts of the island.

In 1665, the presence of French people on the island had the official approval of the French king Louis XIV and he named Bertrand d'Ogeron as the governor of the western part of Hispaniola (in French, Saint-Domingue). By the Treaty of Ryswick, Spain gave the western third of the island to France and kept the eastern part. The development of the French "Saint-Domingue" was very fast, both in wealth and population, and it became the richest colony in the Caribbean. The eastern, Spanish colony of "Santo Domingo" remained poor and with a very low population.


The Hispaniola has an area of 76,480 km². There are two countries: the Republic of Haiti is in the western part of the island and the Dominican Republic in the eastern part. These two countries are separated by an artificial border, except in the northern and southern extremes where they are separated by the rivers Dajabón and Pedernales, respectively.

Countries in the Hispaniola
Country Population
(July 2007 est.)
(per km²)
Haiti 8,706,497[8] 27,750 314
Dominican Republic 9,365,818[9] 48,730 192
18,072,315 76,480 236

The island is separated from Cuba by the Windward Passage (81 km from Punta Maisí in Cuba to Cape Saint-Nicolas in Haiti), from Jamaica by the Jamaica Channel (186 km from Point Morante in Jamaica to Cape Irois in Haiti) and from Puerto Rico by the Mona Channel (112 km from Punta Higüero in Puerto Rico to Punta of Agua in the Dominican Republic).[10]

The maximun length, east to west, is 650 km from Cape Engaño to Cape Irois. The maximum width, north to south, is 265 km from Cape Isabela to Cape Beata.[10] The highest point of the island, and of the Caribbean is Duarte Peak (Pico Duarte) in the Dominican Republic) with 3,087 m; the lowest point is in the Enriquillo Lake, which is found at about 46 meters under sea level.[9]


There are many smaller islands around the Hispaniola. The largest are:

  1. Gonâve (French, Île de la Gonâve), in the Gulf of Gonâve. It is part of Haiti and has an area of 743 km².[11] Its Taíno name was Guanabo.[12]
  2. Tortuga (French, Île de la Tortue), close to the northern coast of Haiti, in the Atlantic Ocean. It is part of Haiti and has an area of 180 km².[11] Its Taíno name was Baynei.[12] It is very famous because many pirates lived here.
  3. Saona, close to the southeastern coast of the Hispaniola, in the Caribbean Sea. It is part of the Dominican Republic and has an area of 117 km².[10] Its Taíno name was Iai [12] or Adamanay. Columbus named this island as Savona after the Italian city of the same name but the use during years has eliminated the letter v.
  4. Île à Vache, also called Île-à-Vaches, close to the soutwestern coast of Hispaniola. It is part of Haiti and has an area of 52 km².[11] Its Taíno name was Iabaque.[12]
  5. Beata, in the southern coast of the Hispaniola, in the Caribbean Sea. It is part of the Dominican Republic and has an area of 27 km².[10] Nobody knows its Taíno name. Columbus named this island as Madama Beata.
  6. Cayemites, two islands, Petite Cayemite and Grand Cayemite, in the Gulf of Gonâve. They are part of Haiti with a total area of 45 km².[11] The Taíno name was Cahaimi.[12]
  7. Catalina, very close to the southeastern coast of the Hispaniola, in the Caribbean Sea. It is part of the Dominican Republic and has an area of 9.6 km².[11] Its Taíno name was Iabanea[12] but some writers, including poets, say that it was called Toeya or Toella. It was discovered by Columbus who named it as Santa Catalina.
  8. Navassa (French, La Navasse), in the Jamaica Channel with 5.2km².[11] It is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The island is also claimed by Haiti.[13]

Mountains and Valleys

The Hispaniola is an island with many mountains, and the highest peaks of the West Indies are found here. The chains of mountains show a direction northwest-southeast, except in the Southern peninsula (in Haiti) where they have a direction west-east. The mountains are separated by valleys with the same general direction.

From north to south, the mountain ranges and valleys are:[14]

  • Cordillera Septentrional (in English, "Northern Range"). It is a Dominican chain, with extensions to the northwest, the Tortuga Island, and to the southeast, the Samaná Peninsula (with its Sierra de Samaná). Its highest mountain is Diego de Ocampo, close to Santiago, with 1,249 m.
  • The Plaine du Nord (Haiti) and Cibao Valley (Dominican Republic) is the largest, and perhaps the most important, valley of the island. This long valley stretches from North Haiti to Samaná Bay.
  • The Massif du Nord (Haiti, with the Gros Morne, 1.198 m) and Cordillera Central (Dominican Republic, also called Sierra de Cibao) with the highest mountains of the West Indies: Duarte Peak, 3,087 m, and others above 3,000 m. Near the center of the island, this range divides itself in two branches: Cordillera Oriental or Sierra del Seibo, separated from the main chain by a depression and with a west-east direction, and a second branch with a north-south direction called Sierra de Ocoa.
  • The Plateau Central (Haiti), San Juan Valley and Plain of Azua (Dominican Republic), are big valleys with elevation from 0 to 600 m.
  • The Bombardopolis Plateau (640 m), Montagnes de Terre Neuve (1,100 m, Morne Goreille), Montagnes Noires (1,700 m, Pic Bonhomme). All this chains are in Haiti and form one group of mountains.
  • Artibonite Plain and Valley, in Haiti, between those mountains mentioned above and below.
  • Chaîne des Matheux (Morne Delpech, 1,600 m) and the Montagnes du Trou d'Eau (Morne Ma Pipe, 1,510 m) form one group that get together with the previous group of mountains to form, in the Dominican Republic, the Sierra de Neiba, with Mount Neiba the highest mountain with 2,279 m. An extension to the southeast of Sierra de Neiba is the Sierra Martín García (Loma Busú, 1,350 m).
  • The Cul-de-Sac (Haiti) or Hoya de Enriquillo (Dominican Republic), is a remarkable valley, with a west-east direction, of low elevation (on average 50 m with some points below sea level) and with two great salt lakes: Êtang Saumatre, in Haiti, and Enriquillo Lake, in the Dominican Republic.
  • Massif de la Hotte (Pic Macaya, 2,405 m) and Massif de la Selle (Pic or Morne La Selle, 2,680 m, the highest Haitian mountain) are in the Southern Peninsula. The Massif de la Selle is called Sierra de Bahoruco in the Dominican Republic. The Gonâve Island (Morne La Pierre, 776 m) belongs, in geological terms, to the Massif de la Selle. This southern group of mountains have a geology very different to the rest of the island.
  • Llano Costero del Caribe (in English, "Caribbean Coastal Plain") is in the southeast of the island (and of the Dominican Republic). It is a large prairie east of Santo Domingo.

Rivers and Lakes

The sources of the longest rivers of Hispaniola are found in the mountains of the Cordillera Central (Dominican Republic) - Massif du Nord (Haiti).

The 10 longest rivers of the island are:[15]

  1. Artibonite. It is the longest river of the island and of Haiti. It is 321 km long (68 km in the Dominican Republic, 253 km in Haiti). Its sources are in the Cordillera Central and flows into the Gulf of Gonâve. Its watershed has an area of 9,013 km² (2,614 km² in the Dominican Republic, the rest in Haiti).
  2. Yaque del Norte. With 296 km, it is the second longest river of the island but the longest of the Dominican Republic. Its sources are in the Cordillera Central and flows to the Atlantic Ocean. Its watershed has an area of 7,044 km².
  3. Yuna. It is 209 km long. Its sources are in the Cordillera Central and flows to the east into Samaná Bay. Its watershed has an area of 5,498 km².
  4. Yaque del Sur. It is 183 km long and its sources are in the Cordillera Central. It flows to the south into the Caribbean Sea. Its watershed has an area of 4,972 km².
  5. Trois Rivières (Three Rivers). It is 150 km long and its sources are in the Massif du Nord and flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
  6. Ozama. It is 148 km long. Its sources are in Sierra de Yamasá (a branch of the Cordillera Central). It flows into the Caribbean Sea. Its watershed has an area of 2,685 km².
  7. Camú. It is 137 km long. Its sources are in the Cordillera Central and flows into the Yuna River. Its watershed has an area of 2,655 km².
  8. Nizao. It is 133 km long. Its sources are in the Cordillera Central and flows to the south into the Caribbean Sea. Its watershed has an area of 974 km².
  9. San Juan. It is 121 km long. Its sources are in the Cordillera Central and flows to the south into the Yaque del Sur River. Its watershed has an area of 2,005 km².
  10. Mao. It is 105 km long. Its sources are in the Cordillera Central and flows to the north into the Yaque del Norte River. Its watershed has an area of 864 km².

The largest lake of the Hispaniola, and of the West Indies, is the Lake Enriquillo. It is located in the Hoya de Enriquillo with an area of 265 km². There are three small islands within the lake. It is around 40 meters below sea level and is a saline lake with a higher concentration of salt than the sea water.

The second largest lake, Étang Saumâtre (also known as Lake Azuei), is close to Lake Enriquillo but in Haiti, in the Cul-de-Sac. It is also a saline lake with an area of around 170 km².

Others lakes are Rincón (fresh water, area of 28.2 km²), Oviedo (brackish water, area of 28 km²), Redonda Limón, Étang de Miragoâne.


Hispaniola has a tropical climate but modified by elevation and the trade winds (winds that come from the northeast, from the Atlantic Ocean). At sea level, the average temperature is 25 °C, with small changes from one season to another. In the highest mountains, the temperature in winter can be as low as 0 °C.

There are two wet seasons: April-June and September-November. The most dry period is from December to March.

Rainfall varies greatly; eastern regions, like the Samaná Peninsula, get an average of over 2,000 mm in a year, but less than 500 mm fall in the southwest (Hoya de Enriquillo - Cul-de-Sac).

From June to November, hurricanes are frequent and can do much damage in the island.


Hispaniola has a total population, estimated for July 2007, of 18,072, 315 inhabitants, for a density of 236.30 inhabitants per km².

In Haiti, 95% of the population belongs to the black ethnic group,[8] but in the Dominican Republic the mixed (mostly black and white) group is the most common with 75% of the population.[9]

In the Dominican Republic, only Spanish is spoken (except for very small groups of immigrants) even if Haitian Creole is gaining importance because the massive immigration from Haiti. Both French and (Haitian) Creole are spoken in Haiti, and both are official languages.

In both countries, the main religion is Roman Catholicism. Protestant groups are important, more in Haiti (15% of the population) than in the Dominican Republic (5%).

The most important cities in the island are Santo Domingo (capital of Dominican Republic), Port-au-Prince (capital of Haiti), Santiago (Dominican Republic), Carrefour (Haiti).


  1. Willey, Gordon R. (1976). The Caribbean Preceramic and Related Matters in Summary Perspective. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Fundación Arqueológica, Anthropológica e Histórica de Puerto Rico. 
  2. García Valdez, Pedro (1963). The Ethnography of the Ciboney. New York: Cooper Square Pub.. pp. 503-505. 
  3. Veloz Maggiolo, Marcio (1972) (in Spanish). Arqueología Prehistórica de Santo Domingo. Singapur: McGraw-Hill Far Eastern Publishers. pp. 88. 
  4. Las Casas, Bartolomé de (1965) (in Spanish). Historia de las Indias. Mexico: Fondo de Cultura Económica. 
  5. Columbus, Christopher; de las Casas, Bartolomé, Dunn, O.C., and Kelley, James E. (1989). The Diario of Christopher Columbus's First Voyage to America, 1492-1493. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. 
  6. Parry, J.H.; Sherlock, Philip (1976). Historia de las Antillas. Buenos Aires: Editorial Kapelusz. pp. 9. 
  7. Parry, J.H.; Sherlock, Philip (1976). Historia de las Antillas. Buenos Aires: Editorial Kapelusz. pp. 21. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "CIA Factbook: Haiti". CIA Factbook. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "CIA Factbook: Dominican Republic". CIA Factbook. Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 De la Fuente, Santiago (1976). Geografía Dominicana. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Editora Colegial Quisqueyana. pp. 90-92. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 Schutt-Ainé, Patricia; Staff of Librairie Au Service de la Culture (1994). Haiti: A Basic Reference Book. Miami, Florida: Librairie Au Service de la Culture. pp. 20. ISBN 0-9638599-0-0. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 As shown in a map made by Andrés Morales in 1508 and published in 1516. In Vega, Bernardo (1989). Los Cacicazgos de la Hispaniola. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Museo del Hombre Dominicano. pp. 88. 
  13. Spadi, Fabio (2001). "Navassa: Legal Nightmares in a Biological Heaven". IBRU Boundary & Security Bulletin (Autumn): 115-130. Retrieved 2007-09-19. 
  14. Butterlin, Jacques (1977) (in French). Géologie Structural de la Région des Caraïbes. Paris: Masson. pp. 110-111. ISBN 2-225 44979-1. 
  15. De la Fuente, Santiago (1976). Geografía Dominicana. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Editora Colegial Quisqueyana. pp. 110-114. 


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