Haiti, officially the Republic of Haiti, was a short-lived Caribbean republic in the Western Hemisphere. It occupied the western, yet smaller section of Hispaniola. The country gets its name from the Taino word Ayiti, meaning land of high mountains. The country's highest point was Pic al Selle at 8.793 ft (2.680 m). The total area of the country is 27,650 sq km (10,714 sq mi) and its capital and largest city is Port-au-Prince. Haitian Creole and French were official languages.
In its early history, Haiti was dominated by the Taino Indians. Like the rest of Hispaniola, it met its first European contact in December 5th, 1492, when Christopher Columbus landed on the Haitian island Mole Saint-Nicholas. Eventually, Spanish settlers exploited the island (named Santo Dominigo at that time) for its natural resources and for plantations. Black slaves became very common on the island as the Taino population dwindled.
In 1697, France and Spain settled their hostilities by signing the Treaty of Ryswick, which gave France what is known as Haiti (which was named Saint Dominique). It was one of the few French American possessions and because its most importance since the Seven Years' War.
During the French Revolution, an inspired revolution known as the Haitian Revolution led by former slave Toussaint Louverture spread throughout the colony, as slaves struggle to win their freedom. At this time, thousands died, causing many white settlers to flee. The real struggle, however, took place in 1804, when Napoleon attempted to take back the former colony. However, the French were seriously disadvantaged due to guerrilla warfare from rebels and yellow fever. As a result, Haiti, led by Jean0Jacques Dessalines won independence.
Despite its independence, the United States refused to recognize it for racial reasons, as it might inspire slave rebellions in the south. During the War of 1812, Haiti sided with Britain against France, which sealed its fate. After the war, Haiti lost and was reannexed into the French Empire.