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Map of Hispaniola's topography
Map of Hispaniola
The Island in pre-columbian times.
Hispaniola is the second largest island in the Greater Antilles, with the Caribbean Sea to the South and the Atlantic Ocean to the North.

Hispaniola - the second largest island in the Caribbean

Hispaniola (Spanish: Hispañola; originally: La isla Española )- the name given by the European (Spanish) colonizers to the entire island containing the countries Saint-Domingue - the French name for the island is Île de Saint-Domingue - (modern-day Haiti) and San Domingo (the modern-day Dominican Republic). After the successful Haitian revolution, the island was renamed Haïti by the Haitians under Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a French spelling of the Taino name Ayiti, meaning land of the mountains.

Alternate name for the Island

Another Taíno name for Hispaniola, still used in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, is Quisqueya (Kreyòl: Kiskeya, from Quizqueia) meaning: 'the cradle of life'. This name is preferred by many, since Hispaniola is the name given by the colonizers (Columbus that nearly destroyed the native people and culture of the island. Bohio is another frequently used name for the island.

Many Haitians and Dominicans alike, have embarked on a campaign to eradicate the use of Hispaniola in the media and wherever else it may be encountered.

Current Area and Population Density

country population
(2002-07-01 est.)
population density
(per km²)
Haiti 7,063,722 27,750 255
Dominican Republic 8,721,594 48,730 179
Total 15,785,316 76,480 206

Total area of the island: 76,480 km2 (29,529 sq mi). After the French gained control of the western part of Hispaniola through the Treaty of Ryswick, the western part quickly came to overshadow the east in both wealth and population. Indeed, the population of the Dominican Republic did not overtake that of Haiti until about 1970. Haitians conquered the eastern part of the island on several occasions: in the 1790s under Toussaint Louverture and in 1821-1822 under Jean-Pierre Boyer.


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 2100 meters 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 meters elevation. The Enriquillo wetlands are a flooded grasslands and savannas ecoregion that surround a chain of lakes and lagoons that includes Lake Enriquillo, Rincón Lagoon, and Lake Caballero in the Dominican Republic and Saumatre Lagoon and Trou Cayman in Haiti.

See also


  • Wikipedia contributors (2005). Hispaniola. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 08:14, January 11, 2006 [1].

External Links