Info Cap Haitien
Cap-Haïtien often referred to as Le Cap or Au Cap, is a commune of about 190,000 people on the north coast of Haiti and capital of the Department of Nord. Previously named as Cap‑Français,Cap‑Henri and historically known as theParis of the Antilles, displaying its wealth and sophistication through its beautiful architecture and artistic life. It was an important city during the colonial period, serving as the capital of the French Colony of Saint-Domingue from the city's formal foundation in 1711 until 1770 when the capital was moved to Port-au-Prince. After the Haitian Revolution, it became the capital of the Kingdom of Northern Haiti under King Henri Christophe until 1820.
Cap-Haïtien's long history of independent thought and its relative distance from Port-au-Prince have contribute in making it a legendary incubator of anti-establishment movements. For instance, from February 5–29, 2004, the city was taken over by militants who opposed the rule of the Haïtian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. They eventually created enough political pressure to force him out of office and the country.
Cap-Haïtien is near the historic Haitian town of Milot, which lies 12 miles (19 km) to the southwest along a gravel road. Milot was Haiti's first capital under the self-proclaimed King Henri Christophe, who ascended to power in 1807, three years after Haiti had gained independence from France. He renamed Cap‑Français as Cap‑Henri. Milot is the site of his Sans-Souci Palace, wrecked by the 1842 earthquake. The Citadelle Laferrière, a massive stone fortress bristling with cannons, atop a nearby mountain is 5 miles (8.0 km) away. On clear days, its silhouette is visible from Cap‑Haïtien.
The small Hugo Chavez International Airport(formerly Cap-Haïtien International Airport), located on the southeast edge of the city, is served by several small domestic airlines and has been patrolled by Chilean UN troops from the "O'Higgins Base" since the 2010 earthquake. The airport is currently being expanded. Several hundred UN personnel, including nearby units from Nepal and Uruguay, are assigned to the city as part of the ongoing United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
Cap-Haïtien is the second largest city in Haiti. It lies along a bay on the northern coast of the country.
When Haiti was the French colony of Saint Domingue, the city was the colony's capital, then called Cap Parisian or Cap Francais. Following independence, it was briefly the capital of the monarchy established in Haiti's North by King Henri Christophe, who built a magnificent palace, Sans Souci, and giant citadel, Citadelle Laferriere, the largest fortification in the Americas, nearby. The country was unified upon Christophe's death in 1820, and the capital moved to Port-au-Prince.
Today the city is a busy port and has a number of nice beaches nearby.
Labadie and other beaches
The walled Labadie (or Labadee) beach resort compound is located 6 miles (9.7 km) to the city's northwest, and serves as a brief stopover for Royal Caribbean International (RCI) cruise ships. Major RCI cruise ships, dock weekly at Labadie. It is a private resort leased by RCI, which had generated the largest proportion of tourist revenue to Haiti since 1986. It employs 300 locals, allows another 200 to sell their wares on the premises, and pays the Haitian government US$6 per tourist.
The resort is connected to Cap‑Haïtien by a mountainous recently paved road. RCI has built a pier at Labadie capable of servicing the luxury-class large ships, completed in late 2009. Attractions include a Haitian market, numerous beaches, watersports, a water-oriented playground, and a popular zip-line. People not on cruises can visit the beach too.
Cormier Plage is another beach on the way to Labadie, and there are also water taxis from Labadie to other beaches, like Paradis beach. In addition, Belli Beach is a small sandy cove with boats and hotels. Labadie village could be visited from here.
Cap-Haïtien is known as the nation's largest center of historic monuments; it is a tourist destination. The calm water of the bay, picturesque Caribbean beaches and monuments have made it a resort and vacation destination for Haiti's upper classes, comparable to Pétionville. Cap‑Haïtien has also attracted more international tourists, as it has been isolated from the political instability in the south of the island.
It has a wealth of French colonial architecture, which has been well preserved. During and after the Haitian Revolution, many craftsmen from Cap‑Haïtien, who were free people of color, fled to French-controlled New Orleans. As a result, the two cities share many similarities in styles of architecture. Especially notable are the gingerbread houses lining the city's older streets.
Occupied for thousands of years by indigenous peoples, who had migrated from present-day Central and South America, the island was colonized in the 16th century by Spanish explorers. The Spaniards adopted the native name, Guárico for this area that is today known as "Cap‑Haïtien". Due to the chance introduction of new infectious diseases, as well as poor treatment of the indigenous peoples, their population rapidly declined.
On the nearby coast Columbus founded his first community in the New World, the short-lived La Navidad. In 1975, researchers found near Cap‑Haïtien another of the first Spanish towns of Hispaniola: Puerto Real was founded in 1503. It was abandoned in 1578, and its ruins were discovered in the twentieth century.
The French took over half of the island of Hispaniola from the Spanish in the early eighteenth century. They established large sugar caneplantations on the northern plains and imported tens of thousands of African slaves to work them. Cap‑Français became an important city of the French colonial period and the colony's main commercial centre. It served as the capital of the French colony of Saint-Domingue from its founding in 1711 until 1770, when the capital was moved to Port-au-Prince in the southwest part of the island. After the slave revolution, this was the first capital of the Kingdom of Northern Haiti under King Henri Christophe, when the nation was split apart.
The central area of the city is between the Bay of Cap‑Haïtien to the east and nearby mountainsides to the west; these are increasingly dominated by flimsy urban slums. The streets are generally narrow and arranged in grids. As a legacy of the United States' occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934, Cap‑Haïtien's north-south streets were renamed as single letters (beginning with Rue A, a major avenue) and going to "Q" and its east-west streets with numbers from 1 to 26; the system is not followed outside the central city. The historic city has numerous markets, churches, and low-rise apartment buildings (of three–four storeys), constructed primarily before and during the U.S. occupation, with much of the infrastructure in need of repair. Many such buildings have balconies on the upper floors, which overlook the narrow streets below. With people eating outside on the balconies, there is an intimate communal atmosphere during dinner hours.