Hispaniola (Spanish: La Española; Latin and French: Hispaniola; Haitian Creole: Ispayola; Taino: Haiti)[3][4] is an island in the Caribbean island group known as the Greater Antilles. It is the second largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba, and the most populous island in the Caribbean; it is also the eleventh most populous island in the world.

The 76,192-square-kilometre (29,418 sq mi) island is divided between two separate, sovereign nations: the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic (48,445 km2, 18,705 sq mi) to the east, and French / French Creole-speaking Haiti (27,750 km2, 10,710 sq mi) to the west. The only other shared island in the Caribbean is Saint Martin, which is shared between France (Saint-Martin) and the Netherlands (Sint Maarten).

Hispaniola is the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, founded by Christopher Columbus on his voyages in 1492 and 1493.[5][6]

La Española  (Spanish)
Hispaniola  (French)
Ispayola  (Haitian Creole)
Hispaniola (NASA World Wind)
Hispaniola (orthographic projection)
Coordinates19°N 71°W / 19°N 71°WCoordinates: 19°N 71°W / 19°N 71°W
ArchipelagoGreater Antilles
Area76,192 km2 (29,418 sq mi)
Area rank22nd
Coastline3,059 km (1,900.8 mi)
Highest elevation3,175 m (10,417 ft)[1]
Highest pointPico Duarte
Largest settlementSanto Domingo
Area covered18,704 m2 (201,330 sq ft)
Largest settlementPort-au-Prince
Area covered10,714 m2 (115,320 sq ft)
Population21,396,000[2] (2014)
Pop. density280.8 /km2 (727.3 /sq mi)


Hispaniola Vinckeboons4
Early map of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, c. 1639.


The island was called by various names by its native people, the Taíno Amerindians. No known Taíno texts exist, hence, historical evidence for those names comes to us through three European historians: the Italian Pietro Martyr d‘Anghiera, and the Spaniards Bartolomé de las Casas and Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo. Fernández de Oviedo and de las Casas both recorded that the island was called Quizqueia (supposedly "Mother of all Lands") by the Taíno. D'Anghiera added another name, Haiti ("Mountainous Land"), but later research shows that the word does not seem to derive from the original Arawak Taíno language.[3] (Quisqueya is today mostly used in the Dominican Republic.) Although the Taínos' use of Quizqueia is verified, and the name was used by all three historians, evidence suggests that it probably was the Taíno name of the whole island, and for a region (now known as Los Haitises) in the northeastern section of the present-day Dominican Republic.

When Columbus took possession of the island in 1492, he named it Insula Hispana in Latin[7] and La Isla Española in Spanish,[8] with both meaning "the Spanish island". De las Casas shortened the name to "Española", and when d‘Anghiera detailed his account of the island in Latin, he rendered its name as Hispaniola.[8] In the oldest documented map of the island, created by Andrés de Morales, Los Haitises is labeled Montes de Haití ("Haiti Mountains"), and de las Casas apparently named the whole island Haiti on the basis of that particular region,[4] as d'Anghiera states that the name of one part was given to the whole island.[3]

Due to Taíno, Spanish and French influences on the island, historically the whole island was often referred to as Haiti, Hayti, Santo Domingo, St. Domingue, or San Domingo. The colonial terms Saint-Domingue and Santo Domingo are sometimes still applied to the whole island, though these names refer, respectively, to the colonies that became Haiti and the Dominican Republic.[9] Since Anghiera's literary work was translated into English and French soon after being written, the name Hispaniola became the most frequently used term in English-speaking countries for the island in scientific and cartographic works. In 1918, the United States occupation government, led by Harry Shepard Knapp, obliged the use of the name Hispaniola on the island, and recommended the use of that name to the National Geographic Society.[10]

The name Haïti was adopted by Haitian revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines in 1804, as the official name of independent Saint-Domingue, as a tribute to the Amerindian predecessors. It was also adopted as the official name of independent Santo Domingo, as the Republic of Spanish Haiti, a state that existed from November 1821 until its annexation by Haiti in February 1822.[11][12]


The primary indigenous group on the island of Hispaniola was the Arawak/Taíno people.[13] The Arawak tribe originated in the Orinoco Delta, spreading from Venezuela.[13] They travelled to Hispaniola around 1200 CE.[14] Each society on the island was a small independent kingdom with a lead known as a cacique.[15] In 1492, which is considered the peak of the Taíno, there were five different kingdoms on the island,[13] the Xaragua, Higuey (Caizcimu), Magua (Huhabo), Ciguayos (Cayabo or Maguana), and Marien (Bainoa).[15] Many distinct Taíno languages also existed in this time period.[16] There is still heated debate over the population of Taíno people on the island of Hispaniola in 1492, but estimates range upwards of 750,000.[17]

An Arawak/Taíno home consisted of a circular building with woven straw and palm leaves as covering.[15] Most individuals slept in fashioned hammocks, but grass beds were also used.[13] The cacique lived in a different structure with larger rectangular walls and a porch.[15] The Taíno village also had a flat court used for ball games and festivals.[15] Religiously, the Arawak/Taíno people were polytheists, and their gods were called zemí.[15] Religious worship and dancing were common, and medicine men or priests also consulted the zemí for advise in public ceremonies.[15] For food, the Arawak/Taíno relied on meat and fish as a primary source for protein;[14] some small mammals on the island were hunted such as rats, but ducks, turtles, snakes, and bats as a common food source.[15] The Taíno also relied on agriculture as a primary food source.[14] The indigenous people of Hispaniola raised crops in a conuco, which is a large mound packed with leaves and fixed crops to prevent erosion.[15] Some common agricultural goods were cassava, maize, squash, beans, peppers, peanuts, cotton, and tobacco, which was used as an aspect of social life and religious ceremonies. [15]

The Arawak/Taíno people travelled often and used hollowed canoes with paddles when on the water for fishing or for migration purposes,[15] and upwards of 100 people could fit into a single canoe.[13] The Taíno came in contact with the Caribs, another indigenous tribe, often.[15] The caribs lived mostly in modern day Puerto Rico and northeast Hispaniola and were known to be hostile towards other tribes.[15] The Arawak/Taíno people had to defend themselves using bow and arrows with poisoned tips and some war clubs.[15] When Columbus landed on Hispaniola, many Taíno leaders wanted protection from the Caribs.[15]


Columbus landing on Hispaniola adj
Columbus landing on Hispaniola

Christopher Columbus inadvertently landed on the island during his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492, where his flagship, the Santa Maria, sank after running aground on December 25. A contingent of men were left at an outpost christened La Navidad, on the north coast of present-day Puerto Plata. On his return the following year,[18] Columbus quickly established a second compound farther east in present-day Dominican Republic, La Isabela after the destruction of La Navidad.

The island was inhabited by the Taíno, one of the indigenous Arawak peoples. The Taíno helped Columbus construct La Navidad on what is now Môle-Saint-Nicolas, Haiti, in December 1492. European colonization of the island began in earnest 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.[19]

Harsh enslavement by Spanish colonists, as well as redirection of food supplies and labor, had a devastating impact on both mortality and fertility of the Taíno population over the first quarter century.[20] Colonial administrators and Dominican and Hyeronimite priests observed that the search for gold and agrarian enslavement through the encomienda system were depressing population.[20] Demographic data from two provinces in 1514 shows a low birth rate consistent with a 3.5% annual population decline. In 1503 the colony began to import African slaves after a charter was passed in 1501 allowing the import of slaves by Ferdinand and Isabel. The Spanish believed Africans would be more capable of performing physical labor. From 1519 to 1533, the indigenous uprising known as Enriquillo's Revolt, after the Taíno cacique who lead them, ensued, resulting from escaped African slaves on the island possibly working with the Taíno people.[21]

Precious metals played a large role in the history of the island after Columbus's arrival. One of the first inhabitants Columbus came across on this island was "a girl wearing only a gold nose plug". Soon the Taínos were trading pieces of gold for hawk's bells with their cacique declaring the gold came from Cibao. Traveling further east from Navidad, Columbus came across the Yaque del Norte River, which he named Rio de Oro because its "sands abound in gold dust".[22]

On Columbus's return during his second voyage, he learned it was the cacique Caonabo who had massacred his settlement at Navidad. While Columbus established a new settlement at La Isabela on Jan. 1494, he sent Alonso de Ojeda and 15 men to search for the mines of Cibao. After a six-day journey, Ojeda came across an area containing gold, in which the gold was extracted from streams by the Taíno people. Columbus himself visited the mines of Cibao on 12 March 1494. He constructed the Fort of Santo Tomas, present day Janico, with Captain Pedro Margarit in command of 56 men.[22]:119,122–126 On 24 March 1495, Columbus with his ally Guacanagarix, embarked on a war of revenge against Caonabo, capturing him and his family while killing and capturing many natives. Afterwards, every person over the age of fourteen had to produce a hawksbill of gold.[22]:149–150

Miguel Diaz and Francisco de Garay discovered large gold nuggets on the lower Haina River in 1496. These San Cristobal mines were later known as the Minas Viejas mines. Then, in 1499, the first major discovery of gold was made in the cordillera central, which led to a mining boom. By 1501, Columbus's cousin Giovanni Colombo, had discovered gold near Buenaventura. The deposits were later known as Minas Nuevas. Two major mining areas resulted, one along San Cristobal-Buenaventura, and another in Cibao within the La Vega-Cotuy-Bonao triangle, while Santiago de los Caballeros, Concepcion, and Bonao became mining towns. The gold rush of 1500–1508 ensued, and Ovando expropriated the gold mines of Miguel Diaz and Francisco de Garay in 1504, as pit mines became royal mines for Ferdinand, who reserved the best mines for himself, though placers were open to private prospectors. Furthermore, Ferdinand kept 967 natives in the San Cristobal mining area supervised by salaried miners.[23]:68,71,78,125–127

Under Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres' governorship, the Indians were made to work in the gold mines. By 1503, the Spanish Crown legalized the distribution of Indians to work the mines as part of the encomienda system. Once the Indians entered the mines, they were often wiped out by hunger and difficult conditions. By 1508, the Taíno population of about 400,000 was reduced to 60,000, and by 1514, only 26,334 remained. About half resided in the mining towns of Concepcion, Santiago, Santo Domingo, and Buenaventura. The repartimiento of 1514 accelerated emigration of the Spanish colonists, coupled with the exhaustion of the mines. [24][23]:191–192 The first documented outbreak of smallpox, previously an Eastern hemisphere disease, occurred on Hispaniola in December 1518 among enslaved African miners.[20][25] Some scholars speculate that European diseases arrived before this date, but there is no compelling evidence for an outbreak.[20] The natives had no immunity to European diseases, including smallpox.[26][27] By May 1519, as many as one-third of the remaining Taínos had died.[25]

Christopher Columbus brought sugar cane on his second voyage to the island. Molasses was the chief product. Diego Colon's plantation had 40 African slaves in 1522. By 1526, 19 mills were in operation from Azua to Santo Domingo.[23]:224 In 1574, a census taken of the Greater Antilles reported 1,000 Spaniards and 12,000 African slaves on Hispaniola.[28]

As Spain conquered new regions on the mainland of the Americas (Spanish Main), 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 government of Philip III ordered all inhabitants of Hispaniola to move close to Santo Domingo, to avoid interaction with pirates. Rather than secure the island, his action meant that French, English and Dutch pirates established their own bases on the abandoned north and west coasts of the island.

Map of Hispaniola
French map of Hispaniola by Nicolas de Fer

In 1665, French colonization of the island was officially recognized by King Louis XIV. The French colony was given the name Saint-Domingue. In the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick, Spain formally ceded the western third of the island to France.[29][30] 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, with a system of human enslavement used to grow and harvest sugar cane during a time when sugar demand was high in Europe. Slavery kept prices low and profit was maximized. It was an important port in the Americas for goods and products flowing to and from France and Europe.

European colonists often died young due to tropical fevers, as well as from violent slave resistance in the late eighteenth century. In 1791, during the French Revolution, a major slave revolt broke out on Saint-Domingue. When the French Republic abolished slavery in the colonies on February 4, 1794, it was a European first[31]. The ex-slave army joined forces with France in its war against its European neighbors. In the second 1795 Treaty of Basel (July 22), Spain ceded the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, later to become the Dominican Republic. French settlers had begun to colonize some areas in the Spanish side of the territory.

Under Napoleon, France reimposed slavery in most of its Caribbean islands in 1802 and sent an army to bring Saint-Domingue under tighter control. However, thousands of the French troops succumbed to yellow fever during the summer months, and more than half of the French army died because of disease.[32] After the French removed the surviving 7,000 troops in late 1803, the leaders of the revolution declared western Hispaniola the new nation of independent Haiti in early 1804. France continued to rule Spanish Santo Domingo. In 1805, Haitian troops of General Henri Christophe tried to conquer all of Hispaniola. They invaded Santo Domingo and sacked the towns of Santiago de los Caballeros and Moca, killing most of their residents, but news of a French fleet sailing towards Haiti forced General Christophe to withdraw from the east, leaving it in French hands. In 1808, following Napoleon's invasion of Spain, the criollos of Santo Domingo revolted against French rule and, with the aid of the United Kingdom, returned Santo Domingo to Spanish control. Fearing the influence of a society that had successfully fought and won against their enslavers, the United States and European powers refused to recognize Haiti, the second republic in the Western Hemisphere. France demanded a high payment for compensation to slaveholders who lost their property, and Haiti was saddled with unmanageable debt for decades.[33] It became one of the poorest countries in the Americas, while the Dominican Republic [33] gradually has developed into the one of the largest economies of Central America and the Caribbean.


Hispaniola lrg
Topographic map of Hispaniola

Hispaniola is the second-largest island in the Caribbean (after Cuba), with an area of 76,192 square kilometers (29,418 sq mi), 48,440 square kilometers (18,700 sq mi)[34] of which is under the sovereignty of the Dominican Republic occupying the eastern portion and 27,750 square kilometers (10,710 sq mi)[6] under the sovereignty of Haiti occupying the western portion.

The island of Cuba lies 80 kilometers (50 mi) to the northwest across the Windward Passage; 190 km to the southwest lies Jamaica, separated by the Jamaica Channel. Puerto Rico lies 130 km 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 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 3,098 meters (10,164 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.[35]

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.[35]

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.[35]

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.[36]


There are many bird species in Hispaniola, and the island's amphibian species are also diverse. Numerous land species on the island are endangered and could become extinct. There are many species endemic to the island including insects and other invertebrates, reptiles, and mammals. The most famous endemic mammal on the island is the Hispaniola Hutia (Plagiodontia aedium). There are also many avian species on the island. The six endemic genera are Calyptophilus, Dulus, Nesoctites, Phaenicophilus, Xenoligea and Microligea. More than half of the original ecoregion has been lost to habitat destruction impacting the local fauna.[37]


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

Haiti deforestation
Satellite image depicting the border between Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic (right)

In Haiti, deforestation has long been cited by scientists as a source of ecological crisis; the timber industry dates back to French colonial rule. Haiti has seen a dramatic reduction of forests due to the excessive and increasing use of charcoal as fuel for cooking. Various media outlets have suggested that the country has just 2% forest cover, but this has not been substantiated by research.[38]

Recent in-depth studies of satellite imagery and environmental analysis regarding forest classification conclude that Haiti actually has approximately 30% tree cover[39]; this is, nevertheless, a stark decrease from the country's 60% forest cover in 1925. The country has been significantly deforested over the last 50 years, resulting in the desertification of portions of the Haitian territory.

In the Dominican Republic, the forest cover has increased. In 2003, the Dominican forest cover had been reduced to 32% of the territory, but by 2011, forest cover had increased to nearly 40%. The success of the Dominican forest growth is due to several Dominican government policies and private organizations for the purpose, and a strong educational campaign that has resulted in increased awareness on the Dominican people of the importance of forests for their welfare and in other forms of life on the island.[40]


Cordillera Central
Cordillera Central, Dominican Republic

Owing to its mountainous topography, Hispaniola’s climate shows considerable variation over short distances, and is the most varied of all the Antilles.[41]

Except in the Northern Hemisphere summer season, the predominant winds over Hispaniola are the northeast trade winds. As in Jamaica and Cuba, these winds deposit their moisture on the northern mountains, and create a distinct rain shadow on the southern coast, where some areas receive as little as 400 millimetres (16 in) of rainfall, and have semi-arid climates. Annual rainfall under 600 millimetres (24 in) also occurs on the southern coast of Haiti’s northwest peninsula and in the central Azúa region of the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac. In these regions, moreover, there is generally little rainfall outside hurricane season from August to October, and droughts are by no means uncommon when hurricanes do not come.[42]

View of Haitian Landscape hispaniola
Les Cayes, Sud, Haiti

On the northern coast, in contrast, rainfall may peak between December and February, though some rain falls in all months of the year. Annual amounts typically range from 1,700 to 2,000 millimetres (67 to 79 in) on the northern coastal lowlands;[41] there is probably much more in the Cordillera Septentrional, though no data exist.

The interior of Hispaniola, along with the southeastern coast centered around Santo Domingo, typically receives around 1,400 millimetres (55 in) per year, with a distinct wet season from May to October. Usually, this wet season has two peaks: one around May, the other around the hurricane season. In the interior highlands, rainfall is much greater, around 3,100 millimetres (120 in) per year, but with a similar pattern to that observed in the central lowlands.

As is usual for tropical islands, variations of temperature are much less marked than rainfall variations, and depend only on altitude. Lowland Hispaniola is generally oppressively hot and humid, with temperatures averaging 28 °C (82 °F). with high humidity during the daytime, and around 20 °C (68 °F) at night. At higher altitudes, temperatures fall steadily, so that frosts occur during the dry season on the highest peaks, where maxima are no higher than 18 °C (64 °F).


See also: Demographics of the Dominican Republic and Demographics of Haiti

Hispaniola is the most populous Caribbean island with combined population of almost 22 million inhabitants as of April 2019.

The Dominican Republic is a Hispanophone nation of approximately 10 million people. Spanish is spoken by all Dominicans as a primary language. Roman Catholicism is the official and dominant religion.

Haiti is a Francophone nation of roughly 10 million people. Although French is spoken as a primary language by the educated and wealthy minority, virtually the entire population speaks Haitian Creole, one of several French-derived creole languages. Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion, practiced by more than half the population, although in some cases in combination with Haitian Vodou faith. Another 25% of the populace belong to Protestant churches.[43] Haiti emerged as the first Black republic[44] in the world.

Ethnic composition

See also: People of the Dominican Republic

The ethnic composition of the Dominican population is 73% mulatto,[45] 16% white and 11% black. Descendants of early Spanish settlers and of black slaves from West Africa constitute the two main racial strains.

The ethnic composition of Haiti is estimated to be 95% black and 5% white and mulatto.

In recent times, Dominican and Puerto Rican researchers identified in the current Dominican population the presence of genes belonging to the aborigines of the Canary Islands (commonly called Guanches).[46] These types of genes also have been detected in Puerto Rico.[47]


The island has the largest economy in the Greater Antilles, however most of the economic development is found in the Dominican Republic, the Dominican economy being nearly 800% larger than the Haitian economy.

The estimated annual per capita income is US$1,300 in Haiti and US$8,200 in Dominican Republic.[48]

The divergence between the level of economic development between Haiti and Dominican Republic makes its border the higher contrast of all western land borders and is evident that the Dominican Republic has one of the highest migration issues in the Americas.[49]

Geologic Map Dominican Republic
Geologic map of Hispaniola. Mzb are Mesozoic amphibolites and associated metasedimentary rocks, Ki are Cretaceous plutons, Kv are Cretaceous volcanic rocks, uK are Upper Cretaceous marine strata, Ku are Cretaceous sedimentary and volcanic rocks, K are Cretaceous marine strata, IT are Eocene and/or Paleocene marine strata, uT are Post-Eocene marine strata, T are Tertiary marine strata, V are volcanic rocks, and Q are Quaternary alluvium. The black triangles indicate the Late Eocene Hatillo Thrust fault.

The island also has an economic history and current day interest and involvement in precious metals. In 1860, it was observed that the island contained a large supply of gold, of which the early Spaniards had hardly developed.[50] By 1919, Condit and Ross noted that much of the island was covered by government granted concessions for mining different types of minerals. Besides gold, these minerals included silver, manganese, copper, magnetite, iron and nickel.[51]

Mining operations in 2016 have taken advantage of the volcanogenic massive sulfide ore deposits (VMS) around Maimón. To the northeast, the Pueblo Viejo Gold Mine was operated by state-owned Rosario Dominicana from 1975 until 1991. In 2009, Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation, formed by Barrick Gold and Goldcorp, started open-pit mining operations of the Monte Negro and Moore oxide deposits. The mined ore is processed with gold cyanidation. Pyrite and sphalerite are the main sulfide minerals found in the 120 m thick volcanic conglomerates and agglomerates, which constitute the world's second largest sulphidation gold deposit.[52]

Between Bonao and Maimon, Falconbridge Dominicana has been mining nickel laterites since 1971. The Cerro de Maimon copper/gold open-pit mine southeast of Maimon has been operated by Perilya since 2006. Copper is extracted from the sulfide ores, while gold and silver are extracted from both the sulfide and the oxide ores. Processing is via froth flotation and cyanidation. The ore is located in the VMS Early Cretaceous Maimon Formation. Goethite enriched with gold and silver is found in the 30 m thick oxide cap. Below that cap is a supergene zone containing pyrite, chalcopyrite, and sphalerite. Below the supergene zone is found the unaltered massive sulphide mineralization.[53]

See also


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External links

Anglo-Spanish War (1654–1660)

The Anglo-Spanish War was a conflict between the English Protectorate under Oliver Cromwell and Spain, between 1654 and 1660. It was caused by commercial rivalry. Each side attacked the other's commercial and colonial interests in various ways such as privateering and naval expeditions. In 1655, an English amphibious expedition invaded Spanish territory in the Caribbean. The major land actions took place in the Spanish Netherlands. In 1657, England formed an alliance with France, merging the Anglo–Spanish war with the larger Franco-Spanish War. The war officially ended with two peace treaties which were signed at Madrid in 1667 and 1670.


The Arawak are a group of indigenous peoples of South America and of the Caribbean. Specifically, the term "Arawak" has been applied at various times to the Lokono of South America and the Taíno, who historically lived in the Greater Antilles and northern Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. All these groups spoke related Arawakan languages.

Captaincy General of Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo, officially Captaincy General of Santo Domingo (Spanish: Capitanía General de Santo Domingo [kapitaˈni.a xeneˈɾal ðe ˈsanto ðoˈmĩnɣo]) or alternatively Kingdom of Santo Domingo (Spanish: Reino de Santo Domingo) was the first colony established in the New World under Spain. The island was named "La Española" (Hispaniola) by Christopher Columbus. In 1511, the courts of the colony were placed under the jurisdiction of the Real Audiencia of Santo Domingo. French buccaneers took over part of the west coast in 1625 and French settlers arrived soon thereafter. After decades of conflicts Spain finally ceded the western third of Hispaniola to France in the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, thus establishing the basis for the later national divisions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The Captaincy General of Santo Domingo had an important role in the establishment of Spanish colonies in the New World. It was the headquarters for Spanish conquistadors on their way to the conquest of the Americas.

Chiefdoms of Hispaniola

The chiefdoms of Hispaniola (cacicazgo in Spanish) were the primary political units employed by the Taíno inhabitants of Hispaniola (Taíno: Ayiti, Quisqueya, or Bohio) in the early historical era. At the time of European contact in 1492, the island was divided into five chiefdoms or cacicazgos, each headed by a cacique or paramount chief. Below him were lesser caciques presiding over villages or districts and nitaínos, an elite class in Taíno society.

The Taíno of Hispaniola were an Arawak people related to the inhabitants of the other islands in the Greater Antilles. At the time of European contact, they were suffering attacks from a rival indigenous group, the Island Caribs. In 1508, there were about 60,000 Taínos in the island of Hispaniola; by 1531 infectious disease epidemics and exploitation had resulted in a dramatic decline in population. An estimated 600.

The boundaries of each cacicazgo were precise. The first inhabitants of the island used geographic elements as references, such as major rivers, high mountains, notable valleys and plains. This enabled them to define each territory. Each was divided into cacique nitaínos, subdivisions headed by the cacique helpers. The entries below relate the territory of each former cacique to the modern-day departments of Haiti and the provinces of the Dominican Republic.

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus (; before 31 October 1451 – 20 May 1506) was an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonist who completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain. He led the first European expeditions to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, initiating the permanent European colonization of the Americas. Columbus discovered the viable sailing route to the Americas, a continent which was not then known to the Old World. While what he thought he had discovered was a route to the Far East, he is credited with the opening of the Americas for conquest and settlement by Europeans.

Columbus's early life is somewhat obscure, but scholars generally agree that he was born in the Republic of Genoa and spoke a dialect of Ligurian as his first language. He went to sea at a young age and travelled widely, as far north as the British Isles (and possibly Iceland) and as far south as what is now Ghana. He married Portuguese noblewoman Filipa Moniz Perestrelo and was based in Lisbon for several years, but later took a Spanish mistress; he had one son with each woman. Though largely self-educated, Columbus was widely read in geography, astronomy, and history. He formulated a plan to seek a western sea passage to the East Indies, hoping to profit from the lucrative spice trade.

After years of lobbying, the Catholic Monarchs of Spain agreed to sponsor a journey west, in the name of the Crown of Castile. Columbus left Spain in August 1492 with three ships, and after a stopover in the Canary Islands made landfall in the Americas on 12 October (now celebrated as Columbus Day). His landing place was an island in the Bahamas, known by its native inhabitants as Guanahani; its exact location is uncertain. Columbus subsequently visited Cuba and Hispaniola, establishing a colony in what is now Haiti—the first European settlement in the Americas since the Norse colonies almost 500 years earlier. He arrived back in Spain in early 1493, bringing a number of captive natives with him. Word of his discoveries soon spread throughout Europe.

Columbus would make three further voyages to the New World, exploring the Lesser Antilles in 1493, Trinidad and the northern coast of South America in 1498, and the eastern coast of Central America in 1502. Many of the names he gave to geographical features—particularly islands—are still in use. He continued to seek a passage to the East Indies, and the extent to which he was aware that the Americas were a wholly separate landmass is uncertain; he gave the name indios ("Indians") to the indigenous peoples he encountered. Columbus's strained relationship with the Spanish crown and its appointed colonial administrators in America led to his arrest and removal from Hispaniola in 1500, and later to protracted litigation over the benefits that he and his heirs claimed were owed to them by the crown.

Columbus's expeditions inaugurated a period of exploration, conquest, and colonization that lasted for centuries, helping create the modern Western world. The transfers between the Old World and New World that followed his first voyage are known as the Columbian exchange, and the period of human habitation in the Americas prior to his arrival is known as the Pre-Columbian era. Columbus's legacy continues to be debated. He was widely venerated in the centuries after his death, but public perceptions have changed as recent scholars have given attention to negative aspects of his life, such as his role in the extinction of the Taíno people, his promotion of slavery, and allegations of tyranny towards Spanish colonists. Many landmarks and institutions in the Western Hemisphere bear his name, including the country of Colombia.


The Ciboney, or Siboney, were a Taíno people of Cuba, Jamaica and Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic). A Western Taíno group living in central Cuba during the 15th and 16th centuries, they had a dialect and culture distinct from the Classic Taíno in the eastern part of the island, though much of the Ciboney territory was under the control of the eastern chiefs. Confusion in the historical sources led 20th-century scholars to apply the name "Ciboney" to the non-Taíno Guanahatabey of western Cuba and various archaic cultures around the Caribbean, but this is deprecated.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic (; Spanish: República Dominicana Spanish pronunciation: [reˈpuβliˌka ðoˌminiˈkana] (listen)) is a country located in the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that are shared by two sovereign states. The Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation by area (after Cuba) at 48,671 square kilometers (18,792 sq mi), and third by population with approximately 10 million people, of which approximately three million live in the metropolitan area of Santo Domingo, the capital city.Christopher Columbus landed on the island on December 5, 1492, which the native Taíno people had inhabited since the 7th century. The colony of Santo Domingo became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, the oldest continuously inhabited city, and the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World. After more than three hundred years of Spanish rule the Dominican people declared independence in November 1821. The leader of the independence movement José Núñez de Cáceres, intended the Dominican nation to unite with the country of Gran Colombia, but no longer under Spain's custody the newly independent Dominicans were forcefully annexed by Haiti in February 1822. Independence came 22 years later after victory in the Dominican War of Independence in 1844. Over the next 72 years the Dominican Republic experienced mostly internal conflicts and a brief return to colonial status before permanently ousting Spanish rule during the Dominican War of Restoration of 1863–1865. A United States occupation lasted eight years between 1916 and 1924, and a subsequent calm and prosperous six-year period under Horacio Vásquez was followed by the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo until 1961. A civil war in 1965, the country's last, was ended by U.S. military occupation and was followed by the authoritarian rule of Joaquín Balaguer (1966–1978 & 1986–1996), the rules of Antonio Guzmán (1972–1978) & Salvador Jorge Blanco (1982–1986). Since 1996, the Dominican Republic has moved toward representative democracy and has been led by Leonel Fernández for most of the time since 1996. Danilo Medina, the Dominican Republic's current president, succeeded Fernandez in 2012, winning 51% of the electoral vote over his opponent ex-president Hipólito Mejía.The Dominican Republic has the ninth-largest economy in Latin America and is the largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region. Over the last two decades, the Dominican Republic has had one of the fastest-growing economies in the Americas – with an average real GDP growth rate of 5.4% between 1992 and 2014. GDP growth in 2014 and 2015 reached 7.3 and 7.0%, respectively, the highest in the Western Hemisphere. In the first half of 2016 the Dominican economy grew 7.4% continuing its trend of rapid economic growth. Recent growth has been driven by construction, manufacturing, tourism, and mining. The country is the site of the second largest gold mine in the world, the Pueblo Viejo mine. Private consumption has been strong, as a result of low inflation (under 1% on average in 2015), job creation, as well as a high level of remittances.

The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. The year-round golf courses are major attractions. A geographically diverse nation, the Dominican Republic is home to both the Caribbean's tallest mountain peak, Pico Duarte, and the Caribbean's largest lake and point of lowest elevation, Lake Enriquillo. The island has an average temperature of 26 °C (78.8 °F) and great climatic and biological diversity. The country is also the site of the first cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress built in the Americas, located in Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone, a World Heritage Site. Music and sport are of great importance in the Dominican culture, with Merengue and Bachata as the national dance and music, and baseball as the favorite sport.

Juan Ponce de León

Juan Ponce de León (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈxwam ˈponθe ðe leˈon]; 1474 – July 1521), commonly known as Ponce de León, was a Spanish explorer and conquistador known for leading the first official European expedition to Florida and the first governor of Puerto Rico. He was born in Santervás de Campos, Valladolid, Spain in 1474. Though little is known about his family, he was of noble birth and served in the Spanish military from a young age. He first came to the Americas as a "gentleman volunteer" with Christopher Columbus's second expedition in 1493.

By the early 1500s, Ponce de León was a top military official in the colonial government of Hispaniola, where he helped crush a rebellion of the native Taíno people. He was authorized to explore the neighboring island of Puerto Rico in 1508 and for serving as the first Governor of Puerto Rico by appointment of the Spanish crown in 1509. While Ponce de León grew quite wealthy from his plantations and mines, he faced an ongoing legal conflict with Diego Columbus, the late Christopher Columbus's son, over the right to govern Puerto Rico. After a long court battle, Columbus replaced Ponce de León as governor in 1511. Ponce de León decided to follow the advice of the sympathetic King Ferdinand and explore more of the Caribbean Sea.

In 1513, Ponce de León led the first known European expedition to La Florida, which he named during his first voyage to the area. He landed somewhere along Florida's east coast, then charted the Atlantic coast down to the Florida Keys and north along the Gulf coast, perhaps as far as Charlotte Harbor. Though in popular culture he was supposedly searching for the Fountain of Youth, there is no contemporary evidence to support the story, which all modern historians call a myth.Ponce de León returned to Spain in 1514 and was knighted by King Ferdinand, who also re-instated him as the governor of Puerto Rico and authorized him to settle Florida. He returned to the Caribbean in 1515, but plans to organize an expedition to Florida were delayed by the death of King Ferdinand in 1516, after which Ponce de León again traveled to Spain to defend his grants and titles. He would not return to Puerto Rico for two years.

In 1521, Ponce de León finally returned to southwest Florida with the first large-scale attempt to establish a Spanish colony in what is now the continental United States. However, the native Calusa people fiercely resisted the incursion, and he was seriously wounded in a skirmish. The colonization attempt was abandoned, and its leader died from his wounds soon after returning to Cuba. Ponce de León was interred in Puerto Rico, and his tomb is located inside of the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista in San Juan.

According to John J. Browne Ayes, 30% of the modern population of Puerto Rico descend from Juan Ponce de León and his wife.

Nicolás de Ovando

Frey Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres (Brozas, Extremadura, Spain 1460 – Madrid, Spain 29 May 1511) was a Spanish soldier from a noble family and a Knight of the Order of Alcántara, a military order of Spain. He was Governor of the Indies (Hispaniola) from 1502 until 1509, sent by the Spanish crown to investigate the administration of Francisco de Bobadilla and re-establish order. His administration subdued rebellious Spaniards, and completed the brutal "pacification" of the native Taíno population of Hispaniola.

Pierre le Grand (pirate)

Pierre Le Grand (French: Peter the Great) was a French buccaneer of the 17th century. He is known to history only from one source, Alexandre Exquemelin's Buccaneers of America, and may be imaginary.


Saint-Domingue (French pronunciation: ​[sɛ̃.dɔ.mɛ̃ɡ]) was a French colony on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola from 1659 to 1804, in what is now Haiti.

The French had established themselves on the western portion of the islands of Hispaniola and Tortuga by 1659. In the Treaty of Ryswick of 1697, Spain formally recognized French control of Tortuga Island and the western third of the island of Hispaniola.In 1791, the slaves and some free people of color of Saint-Domingue began waging a rebellion against French authority. The rebels became reconciled to French rule following the abolition of slavery in the colony in 1793, although this alienated the island's dominant slave-holding class. France controlled the entirety of Hispaniola from 1795 to 1802, when a renewed rebellion began. The last French troops withdrew from the western portion of the island in late 1803, and the colony later declared its independence as Haiti, its indigenous name, the following year.

Sebastián de Ocampo

Sebastián de Ocampo was a Spanish navigator and explorer. He is believed to have been the first navigator to have circumnavigated the island of Cuba in 1508.Under the authority of the Governor of Hispaniola, Ocampo sailed along the northern coast of the island through the Old Bahama Channel and around the western point, Cape San Antonio. The voyage took eight months, and was against the Gulf Stream. Europeans had already frequented Cuba by the time Ocampo embarked on his journey, but his circumnavigation confirmed that the area was indeed surrounded by water, and not a peninsula as was speculated. Ocampo returned to Hispaniola with news of the body of water that lay beyond. Before that, and after the Spanish discovery of the Antilles, several maps portrayed what latter-day interpreters have assumed to be the Gulf of Mexico, thereby disputing the actual discovery date. He died at an old age in a year no one is sure of.


The Taíno were an indigenous people of the Caribbean. At the time of European contact in the late fifteenth century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Jamaica, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas and the northern Lesser Antilles. The Taíno were the first New World peoples to be encountered by Christopher Columbus during his 1492 voyage. They spoke the Taíno language, an Arawakan language.The ancestors of the Taíno originated in South America, and the Taíno culture as documented developed in the Caribbean. Taíno groups were in conflict with the Island Caribs of the southern Lesser Antilles. At the time of contact, the Taíno were divided into several groups. Western Taíno groups included the Lucayans of the Bahamas, the Ciboney of central Cuba, and the inhabitants of Jamaica. The Classic Taíno lived in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, while the Eastern Taíno lived in the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles.

At the time of Columbus's arrival in 1492, there were five Taíno chiefdoms in Hispaniola, each led by a principal Cacique (chief), to whom tribute was paid. The Taíno name for Hispaniola was Ayiti ("land of high mountains"), which is the source of the name Haiti. Cuba was divided into 29 chiefdoms, many of which have given their name to modern cities, including Havana, Batabanó, Camagüey, Baracoa, and Bayamo. Taíno communities ranged from small settlements to larger centers of up to 3,000 people. They may have numbered 2 million at the time of contact.The Spanish conquered various Taíno chiefdoms during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. According to The Black Legend, warfare and harsh enslavement by the colonists decimated the population; however, most scholars believe that European diseases caused the majority of deaths. A smallpox epidemic in Hispaniola in 1518–1519 killed almost 90% of the surviving Taíno. The remaining Taíno were intermarried with Europeans and Africans, and were incorporated into the Spanish colonies. The Taíno were considered extinct by the end of the century. However, since about 1840, there have been attempts to create a quasi-indigenous Taíno identity in rural areas of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. This trend accelerated among Puerto Rican communities in the mainland United States in the 1960s. At the 2010 U.S. census, 1,098 people in Puerto Rico identified themselves as "Puerto Rican Indian", 1,410 identified as "Spanish American Indian", and 9,399 identified as "Taíno". In total, 35,856 Puerto Ricans considered themselves Native American.

Taíno language

Taíno is a poorly-attested Arawakan language that was spoken by the Taíno people of the Caribbean. At the time of Spanish contact, it was the principal language throughout the Caribbean. Classic Taíno (Taíno proper) was the native language of the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and most of Hispaniola, and it was expanding into Cuba. Ciboney is essentially unattested, but colonial sources suggest that it was a similar language to the Taíno language and was spoken in westernmost Hispaniola, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and most of Cuba.

By the late 15th century, Taíno had displaced earlier languages except in western Cuba and pockets in Hispaniola. As the Taíno culture declined during Spanish colonization, the language was replaced by Spanish and other European languages. It is believed to have been extinct within 100 years of contact but possibly continued to be spoken in isolated pockets in the Caribbean until the late 19th century. As the first indigenous language encountered by Europeans in the New World, it was a major source of new words borrowed into European languages.

Tortuga (Haiti)

Tortuga Island (French: Île de la Tortue, IPA: [il də la tɔʁty]; Haitian Creole: Latòti; Spanish: Isla Tortuga, IPA: [ˈisla toɾˈtuɣa], Turtle Island) is a Caribbean island that forms part of Haiti, off the northwest coast of Hispaniola. It constitutes the commune of Île de la Tortue in the Port-de-Paix arrondissement of the Nord-Ouest department of Haiti.

Tortuga is 180 square kilometres (69 square miles) in size and had a population of 25,936 at the 2003 Census. In the 17th century, Tortuga was a major center and haven of Caribbean piracy. Its tourist industry and reference in many works has made it one of the most recognized regions of Haiti.

Treasure Island

Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of "buccaneers and buried gold."

Its influence is enormous on popular perceptions of pirates, including such elements as treasure maps marked with an “X,” schooners, the Black Spot, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen bearing parrots on their shoulders.Treasure Island was originally considered a coming-of-age story and is noted for its atmosphere, characters, and action.

It is one of the most frequently dramatized of all novels. It was originally serialized in the children's magazine Young Folks from 1881 through 1882 under the title Treasure Island, or the mutiny of the Hispaniola, credited to the pseudonym "Captain George North". It was first published as a book on 14 November 1883, by Cassell & Co.

Treasure Island (2012 miniseries)

Treasure Island is a two-part British television miniseries adaptation of the novel Treasure Island (1883) by Robert Louis Stevenson. The screenplay was written by Stewart Harcourt, produced by Laurie Borg and directed by Steve Barron. It was made by BSkyB and first shown in the United Kingdom on Sky1 on 1 & 2 January 2012.

Unification of Hispaniola

The Unification of Hispaniola (Spanish: Ocupación militar haitiana de Santo Domingo de 1822) was the annexation and merger of then-independent Republic of Spanish Haiti (formerly Santo Domingo) into the Republic of Haiti, that lasted twenty-two years, from 9 February 1822 to 27 February 1844. The territory functioned as a self-governing entity with Dominican soldiers as overseers. Dominican citizens also had more rights than the Haitians who were under Jean-Pierre Boyer's code rural.

Windward Passage

The Windward Passage (French: Passage au Vent; Spanish: Paso de los Vientos) is a strait in the Caribbean Sea, between the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola. The strait specifically lies between the easternmost region of Cuba and the northwest of Haiti. 80 km (50 mi) wide, the Windward Passage has a threshold depth of 1,700 m (5,600 ft).

With Navassa Island on its southern approach, it connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, and is in the direct path of shipping between the Panama Canal and the eastern seaboard of the United States.From either the eastern tip of the Guantánamo Province of Cuba, or the western tip of Haiti's Nord-Ouest Department, it is possible to see lights on the other side of the Windward Passage.


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