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Hispaniola (from Spanish, La Española) is the second-largest island of the Antilles, lying east of Cuba. Christopher Columbus arrived there in 1492, and in 1493 founded the first Spanish colony in the New World on it.

On March 10, 1496, Columbus left the island for Spain, ending his sixth visit to the Western Hemisphere.

Haiti occupies the western third of the island; the eastern two-thirds are the Dominican Republic.

The Taíno called the island Quisqueya (or Kiskeya), a name still in use in both countries. It poetically refers to the Dominican Republic in that country's national anthem, Quisqueyanos valientes. The Spanish rechristened the island Santo Domingo, and the corresponding term Saint-Domingue was taken up by the French. Another indigenous name, Ayiti or variants thereof, was reintroduced in 1804 as the name for independent Haiti. The name Haiti was originally intended to mean the entire island, not just the western part, and in fact the present-day Dominican Republic was known briefly as Spanish Haiti . Bohio is yet a third indigenous name for the island.

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

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.

Last updated: 02-07-2005 18:22:30
Last updated: 02-17-2005 09:04:43