Haiti shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Dominican Republic. The western one-third is Haiti, and the eastern two-thirds is the Dominican Republic. Haiti is mostly rough and mountainous. The highest point is Pic la Selle at 2,680 meters (8,793 feet). Environmental issues include extensive deforestation, soil erosion, and inadequate supplies of potable water; much of the remaining forested land is being cleared for agriculture and used as fuel. There is a Haitian green party, PVH (Parti Vert Haïtien), as well as a “front of green heirs”, FHEVERT (Front des Héritiers Verts).
Near Jacmel, La Selle is Haiti’s first biosphere reserve, which includes La Visite National Park and the forest reserve Forêt-des-pins. The Haiti Ocean Project is actively involved running programs for the protection of whales and dolphins in Haitian waters. Since 2009, the Caves of Haiti project has been working to conserve Haiti’s underground heritage and promote responsible speleotourism.
Fondation Seguin has been endeavoring to promote ecotourism in the southeast region of Seguin. Wynne Farm Ecological Reserve is a private ecological reserve and horticultural farm in the mountains of Kenscoff. The Mountain Bike Ayiti project has the ultimate goal of developing sustainable mountain bike tourism in Haiti, through empowering local enterprises. The only really profitable modern tourism development in Haiti has been the private resort at Labadee (aka Labadie), a cruise ship port located on the northern coast, leased to Royal Caribbean International until 2050; since 1986, it employs 300 locals, allows another 200 to sell their wares, and pays the government US$6 per tourist.
- La Salle, 2012
- Fort Jacques and Fort Alexandre Natural National Park
- Fort Mercredi Natural National Park
- La Citadelle, Sans Souci, Ramiers Natural National Park
- La Visite Natural National Park
- Lac de Peligre Natural National Park
- Parc Macaya Natural National Park
- Sources Chaudes Natural National Park
- Sources Puantes Natural National Park
The native Arawak Amerindians – who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by Columbus in 1492 – were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola, and in 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island – Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean, but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. In the late 18th century, Haiti’s nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L’Ouverture and after a prolonged struggle, became the first black republic to declare its independence in 1804. Haiti is the only contemporary nation born of a slave revolt.
The United States occupied the island in 1915 and US Marines were stationed in the country until 1934. The US occupation forces established a boundary between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. From 1957 to 1986 Haiti was governed by the hereditary dictatorship of the Duvalier family. “Papa Doc” Duvalier stayed in power by enlisting an organization known as Tontons Macoutes, which maintained order by terrorizing the populace. In 1986, “Baby Doc” Duvalier was driven into exile by protests, when the army took over. In 1990, former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected President in the Haitian general election, but was overthrown by the army within a year. In 1994, US forces again entered Haiti, this time to reinstate the duly elected president, Aristide. He then disbanded the Haitian army, and to this day Haiti is a country without an army. By 2004, a revolt began which forced Aristide into exile again, whereupon the United Nations stationed peacekeepers in Haiti. Cables released by Wikileaks show that high-level U.S. and U.N. officials coordinated a politically motivated prosecution of Aristide, spending tens of millions of dollars to slander Aristide as a drug trafficker, human rights violator, and heretical practitioner of voodoo. In 2010, a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti, not far from the capital of Port-au-Prince, and from which the country is still trying to recover.
In 2008, long time Haiti resident Carla Bluntschli of N a Sonje Foundation floated an interesting tourism development proposal called The Memory Village, a sort of cross between a living history museum and an outdoor drama depicting slavery in Haiti. The foundation for the development of alternative tourism in Haiti, FONDTAH (Fondation pour le Développement du Tourisme Alternatif en Haïti), is currently active. The tourism association of Haiti, ATH (Association Touristique d’Haïti), does maintain an online Members’ Directory. Global Exchange regularly runs reality tours of Haiti, such as their “alternative spring break trip”.
- From sight to site to website: travel-writing, tourism and the American experience in Haiti, 1900-2008 by LC Yarrington, 2010
- Haiti disaster tourism – a medical shame by DJ Van Hoving, LA Wallis & F Docrat, 2010
- Innocent imitations? Authenticity and mimesis in Haitian vodou art, tourism, and anthropology by KE Richman, 2008
- ‘Haiti Appeared At My Church’: Faith-Based Organizations, Transnational Activism, And Tourism In Sustainable Development by J DeTemple, 2006
- Perceptions of Haitians Toward Tourism Development in Rural Haiti by AR Thermil, W Quad & AL Sheaffer, 2004
- Can Haiti dream of ecotourism? by P Paryski, 1996
- A Cultural Approach to Tourism: Opportunities for Haiti by C Mollenthiel, 1991
- The Golden Age of Tourism: US Influence in Haitian Cultural and Economic Affairs, 1934–1971 by B Plummer, 1990
- Tourism Development in Haiti by R Buteau, 1985
- The cultural patrimony of Haiti and its role in the tourism product by JS Holder, 1983
- Commercial folklore and voodoo in Haiti: international tourism and the sale of culture by AB Goldberg, 1981
- Tourism and dependency in Haiti by C Girault, 1978