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21-02-2017 - Banco Central

 
The Island

Hispaniola (from Spanish La Española) is a major island in the Caribbean with an area of 76.480 km² and a coastline of 3,059 km, containing the two sovereign states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west, and Puerto Rico to the east, directly within the hurricane belt. Hispaniola is perhaps most famous as the site of the first European colonies in the New World, colonies founded by Christopher Columbus on his voyages in 1492 and 1493. It is the tenth most populous island in the world, and the most populous in the Americas. It is the 22nd largest island in the world.

The island bears various Amerindian names that supposedly originated from the indigenous Taíno that once populated the island. Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo and Bartolomé de las Casas documented that the island was called Haití ("Mountainous Land") by the Taíno inhabitants. Pietro Martyr d'Anghiera added another name, Quizqueia (supposedly "Mother of all Lands") however later research shows that the word doesn't seem to have derived from the original Arawak language.

Although Haití was the Taíno name verified to be used by the Amerindians on the island and was subsequently used by all three historians,[clarification needed] evidence suggests that it probably was not the Taíno name of the whole island. Haití was the Taíno name of a region in what is now the northeastern section of present day Dominican Republic (now known as Los Haitises). In the oldest documented map of the island, created by Andrés de Morales, that region is named Montes de Haití ("Haiti Mountains"). Las Casas apparently named the whole island Haití on the basis of that particular region; d'Anghiera said that the name of one part was given to the whole island.

In the present day both terms are used to refer to their respective countries. The name "Haiti" was adopted as the official name of the republic of the same name by Haitian revolutionary Jean-Jacques Dessalines as an ode of tribute to the Amerindian predecessors. The word Quisqueya (from Quizqueia) is used to refer to the Dominican Republic.

When Columbus took possession of the island, he named it La Española, meaning "The Spanish (Island)". When d'Anghiera detailed his account of the island in Latin, he translated the name as Hispaniola. Because Anghiera's literary work was translated into English and French in a short period of time, the name "Hispaniola" is the most frequently used term in English-speaking countries regarding the island in scientific and cartographic works.

The colonial terms Saint-Domingue and Santo Domingo are sometimes still applied when referring to the whole island when both names factually refer to their respective countries, Haiti and the Dominican Republic.



     



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