BlackFacts Details

Port-au-Prince, Republic of Haiti (1749 - )

Port-au-Prince is the capital, largest city, commercial center, and chief port of the Republic of Haiti. Some 90% of Haiti’s investments and jobs are found in Port-au-Prince. Estimated to be about 1.2 million inhabitants (and nearly three million inhabitants in the metropolitan area), the city alone has about 12% of the nation’s population. People of African descent constitute 95% of Port-au-Prince’s community, with Hispanic, Asian, European, and Middle East Haitians accounting for the rest of the population.

Port-au-Prince is located on the Gulf of Gonâve, a wide harbor on the southwestern coast of the Caribbean region’s second-largest island, Hispaniola. Port-au-Prince’s natural harbor has seen economic activity long before Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the island in 1492, when the Arawakan-speaking Taino Indians inhabited the region. The city was named for the ship Prince, which first arrived at the French colony of Saint-Domingue (as Haiti was then known) in 1706, and was founded by the Marquis of Larnage, Charles Burnier, in 1749. In 1770 Port-au-Prince replaced Cap-Haïtien as Saint-Domingue’s capital.

The Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), led by Toussaint LOuverture, ended three centuries of Spanish and French rule and brought about both independence and the abolition of slavery. On January 1, 1804 Port-au-Prince became the capital of Haiti.

Port-au-Prince has seen both triumph and travail during its long history. The Academy of Haiti was established in 1823, and in 1845 Le Moniteur Haitien, the nation’s first newspaper began publication. Faustin Soulouque, a general in the Haitian Army, was elected President of Haiti in 1847.  On April 16, 1848 Soulouque, an uncompromising enemy of mixed-race Haitians, ordered the massacre of “mulattoes” in Port-au-Prince.  The decimation of “mulattoes,” as well as any black Haitians whom Soulouque suspected of disloyalty, continued throughout the country until January 15, 1859, when Soulouque’s reign ended.  In 1860 the Haitian Navy was created, and in 1881 the