Ten Facts About Port au Prince, Haiti

Learn ten important facts about Haiti's capital city, Port au Prince.

Ruins of the Haiti National Palace, the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Ruins of the Haiti National Palace, the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, destroyed in the earthquake of January 12, 2010. Photo © Frederic Dupoux/Getty Images

Port au Prince (map) is the capital and largest city based on population in Haiti, a relatively small country that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. It is located on the Gulf of Gonâve on the Caribbean Sea and covers an area of nearly 15 square miles (38 sq km). The metro region of Port au Prince is dense with a population of over two million but like the rest of Haiti, the majority of the population in Port au Prince is extremely poor although there are some wealthier areas within the city.

The following is a list of the ten most important things to know about Port au Prince:

1) Most recently, much of Haiti's capital city was destroyed in a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake which hit near Port au Prince on January 12, 2010. The death toll in the earthquake was in the thousands and most of Port au Prince's central historic district, its capital building, the parliament building, as well as other city infrastructure such as hospitals were destroyed.

2) The city of Port au Prince was officially incorporated in 1749 and in 1770 it replaced Cap-Français as the capital of the French colony of Saint-Domingue.

3) Modern-day Port au Prince is located on a natural harbor on the Gulf of Gonâve which has allowed it to sustain more economic activity than other areas of Haiti.

4) Port au Prince is Haiti's economic hub as it is an export center. The most common exports leaving Haiti through Port au Prince are coffee and sugar. Food processing is also common in Port au Prince.

5) The population of Port au Prince is difficult to accurately determine because of a large presence of slums in the hills adjacent to the city.

6) Although Port au Prince is densely populated the city's layout is divided as commercial districts are near the water, while residential areas are in the hills next to the commercial areas.

7) Port au Prince is divided into separate districts that are administered by their own local mayors who are under the jurisdiction of the entire city's general mayor.

8) Port au Prince is considered the educational hub of Haiti as it has several different educational institutions which range from large universities to smaller vocational schools. The State University of Haiti is also located in Port au Prince.

9) Culture is an important aspect of Port au Prince museums featuring artifacts from explorers like Christopher Columbus and historic buildings. Many of these buildings, however, were damaged in the January 12, 2010 earthquake.

10) Recently, tourism has become an important part of Port au Prince's economy, however most tourist activity focuses around the city's historic districts and affluent areas.


Wikipedia. (2010, April 6). Port-au-Prince - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port-au-Prince

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Briney, Amanda. "Ten Facts About Port au Prince, Haiti." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, thoughtco.com/facts-about-port-au-prince-haiti-1434974. Briney, Amanda. (2020, August 25). Ten Facts About Port au Prince, Haiti. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/facts-about-port-au-prince-haiti-1434974 Briney, Amanda. "Ten Facts About Port au Prince, Haiti." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/facts-about-port-au-prince-haiti-1434974 (accessed June 4, 2023).