In Port au Prince Haiti right next door to the National Palace is the National Museum of Haiti. Within its walls you will find the history of the nation of Haiti from the pre-columbian times up till the 1940s. They have what they claim to be the anchor of Columbus's ship the Santa Maria which crashed just off the north end of the Island Christmas eve of 1492. Being one ship short they left some men behind who founded the colony La Navidad which was destroyed by the time Columbus came back the following year. Shortly thereafter the native americans were exterminated.
The nation of Haiti was under French Colonial rule for a while and they also have several artifacts from that era. The french colonial was overthrown by their by their slaves in the early 1800's making Haiti the second independant nation in North America and the first Black Republic. The settlement was laid out by the French in 1749 and served as the capital of the French colony of Saint-Domingue from 1770 to 1804. When Haiti became independent in 1804, the city was chosen as the new nation's capital. The community has periodically suffered from earthquakes and from civil unrest.
Port-au-Prince, city, central Haiti, capital of the country and of Ouest Department, on the Gonâve Gulf. It is the principal seaport and commercial center of Haiti. Before the earthquake, major manufactures included processed food, beverages, tobacco products, textiles, and building materials. Tourism and construction are also important to the city's economy.
Port-au-Prince is the site of the State University of Haiti (1920); the National Library, the National Museum with a wonderful collection of art there by native artists (The history in the museum conveniently stops in the 1940s which happens to coincide with when dictators overtook the country). They also have a wonderful collection of art there by native artists; the Archaeological Museum; the Art Center, a technical institute; and a polytechnic college.
Other points of interest included the National Palace, the Basilica of Notre Dame, and the French-built stone quay (1780) -- their status tenuous following the recent calamity. When Haiti became independent in 1804, the city was chosen as the new nation's capital. The community has periodically suffered from earthquakes and from civil unrest.
Below is a wonderful hyperlink to view some pre-earthquake photographs of Port au Prince as include the University, Art Museum, and colonial buildings.
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