Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti (République d'Haïti; Repiblik Ayiti), is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. In addition, Haiti also occupies small satellite islands known for tourists, including; Île-à-Vache (Cow Island), which includes Port Morgan and Abaka Bay resorts. In French, the country's nickname is La Perle des Antilles (The Pearl of the Antilles), because of its natural beauty. It is the most mountainous nation in the Caribbean and the country's highest point is Pic la Selle, at . By area, Haiti is the third largest Caribbean nation (after Cuba and the Dominican Republic), with (roughly the size of the U.S. state of Hawaii or the country of Belgium). By population, Haiti is the second largest Caribbean nation, with an estimated 10.7 million people, just under a million of whom live in the capital city, Port-au-Prince.
Haiti's regional, historical, and ethno-linguistic position is unique for several reasons. Originally inhabited by the indigenous Taíno people, the island was first discovered by Christopher Columbus during his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. When Columbus first landed in Haiti (western Hispaniola), he had thought he had found India or Asia. Deciding to establish a settlement in the area, a contingent of men were left at an outpost christened La Navidad, because the wreck occurred on Christmas day, north from the modern town of Limonade
Gaining its independence in 1804, Haiti was the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, the second republic successful in a war of independence against a European colonial power in the Americas, the only nation in the western hemisphere to have defeated three European superpowers (Britain, France, and Spain), and the only nation in the world established as a result of a successful slave revolt. The rebellion, begun in 1791, was led by a former slave and the first black general of the French Army, Toussaint Louverture, whose military genius and political acumen transformed an entire society of slaves into the independent country. Upon his death in a prison in France, he was succeeded by his lieutenant, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who declared Haiti's sovereignty and later became the first emperor of Haiti, Jacques I. Its successful revolution by slaves and free people of color lasted nearly a decade; and apart from Alexandre Pétion, the first President of the Republic, all the first leaders of government were former slaves.
With 10.4 million people, Haiti is the most populous full member-state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The country is also a member of the Latin Union. In 2012, Haiti announced its intention to seek associate membership status in the African Union. It has the lowest Human Development Index in the Americas. Political violence has occurred regularly throughout its history, leading to government instability. Most recently, in February 2004, a coup d'état originating in the north of the country forced the resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. A provisional government took control with security provided by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Michel Martelly, the current president, was elected in the 2011 general election.