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Republic of Haiti: History of Name


Official Designation:
République d’Haiti (Republic of Haiti)

History of Name:
Haiti - (Short form name) (1804 to present)
Designation adopted by the blacks and mulattoes who modified the spelling of the original name, Ayiti, in order to symbolize a new era and to break away from the slavery period, after winning their independence from France in 1804.

Saint-Domingue (1697 to 1803)
Name given by the French settlers to the western area (Haiti) of the island of Hispaniola.

Espanola (1492 to 1696)
Named Espanola, meaning “Little Spain,” by Christopher Columbus, in honor of the Spanish crown. Hispaniola is now internationally used to designate the island which is divided between the Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Ancient names: Ayiti, Quisqueya, Bohio

Names given by the original inhabitants who occupied the island before Christopher Columbus. Ayiti means “mountainous land” in the language of the inhabitants of the island. Quisqueya, means “big land” to the natives of the islands surrounding Ayiti. Bohio means “rich in villages.” AYTI (or Ayiti) is composed of three roots: “A” meaning flower; “Y” meaning high; TI meaning land or region. AYTI hence means “flower of high land” or “mountainous land” or “land of high mountains.”

When Christopher Columbus discovered Ayiti, it was inhabited by the Carib tribe and Tainos of the Arawak tribe. It was also divided into five kingdoms named Caciquats: Magua, Marien, Xaragua, Maguana, and Higuey.


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