The country of Haiti makes up the western half of the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic making up the other half. This country is also rich in history, beginning with the fact that it was the first independent nation in Latin America as well as the location of the first black-led republic in the world, which it achieved after it gained its independence as part of an extremely successful slave rebellion in 1804.
Haiti is also the poorest country in the America’s, with roughly 80% of its residents living in poverty, with most Haitians living off of less than $2 a day.
Unfortunately in addition to the problems that this financially devastated country is already going through, on January 12, 2010, at 4:53pm, Haiti was struck by a powerful 7.0 earthquake centered about 10 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince. As a result of this earthquake, most of Port-au-Prince was leveled, including most government buildings and tourist attractions, in addition to the injuries and deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
Today, Port-au-Prince is in the process of trying to rebuild itself, and due to the resilience and uplifting spirits of its people, Haitians welcome visitors to their unique Caribbean island to get a glimpse of where they call home.The official languages of Port-au-Prince are French and Creole making it one of only 2 independent nations in the Caribbean that recognizes French as its official language(with Canada being the other country). There are some English speakers around the country, but it is best to brush up on basic French words before visiting the country. The official currency is called a Gourde. Currently, 1 Haitian Gourde is being exchanged at a rate of 0.0248004 US dollars.
The best time of year to visit Port-au-Prince is from January to April, when the weather conditions are the most comfortable. If looking to go during the off-season when prices are cheaper, keep in mind that not all attractions may be available to visit.
After the earthquake, the Toussaint Louverture International Airport located in Port-au-Prince sustained some damage, and was originally restricted to airplanes that were specifically sent to Haiti to help with the relief effort in the country. As of today, commercial operation has returned to the country.
When seeking lodging in Port-au-Prince, there are many different reasonably priced options. There are 3 hotels Downtown, the Oloffson Hotel, the Park Hotel, and the Coconut Villa Hotel. Each of these hotels cost roughly $60-$70 for standard accommodations, and deluxe accommodations are slightly more.
Popular tourist attractions include, The Delfly Mansion, The Museum of Haitian Art, The Iron Market, and Bassin Bleu.
For whatever your reasons for visiting Port-au-Prince are, be aware that you are not walking into a typical Caribbean paradise island. Though this country may not be “the norm” for the Caribbean, this unique country has the potential to leave visitors with many wonderful vacation memories.