Peligre Lake

Geography of Haiti

The Republic of Haiti comprises the western third of the island of Ile d'Haiti, west of the Dominican Republic. It is positioned between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Haiti's geographic coordinates are at a longitude of 72° 25′ west and a latitude of 19° 00′ north. The total area is 27,750km,² of which 27,560km² is land and 190km² is water. This makes Haiti slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Maryland. Haiti has 1,771km of coastline and a 360km-border with the Dominican Republic.

Physical Geography

Haiti is a very mountainous country with more than 3/4ths of the territory being 600 feet and above. It's climate is tropical and semiarid. Fertile valleys are interspersed between the mountain ranges forming vast areas of contrast between elevations in many areas throughout the territory. The country (and Hispaniola) is separated from Cuba by way of the Windward Passage, an 80k wide strait that passes between the two countries. Haiti's lowest elevation is at sea level (the Caribbean Sea), while its highest point is Pic la Selle at 2,680 m.


  • The country's most important valley in terms of crops is the Plaine de l'Artibonite, which is oriented south of the Montagnes Noires. This region supports the country's (also Ile d'Haiti's) longest river, the Riviere l'Artibonite whose estuary begins in the western region of the Dominican Republic and continues most of its length through central Haiti and onward where it empties into the Golfe de la Gonâve. The eastern and central region of the island is a large elevated plateau.
  • The northern region consists of the Massif du Nord (Northern Massif) and the Plaine du Nord (Northern Plain). The Massif du Nord is an extension of the Cordillera Central in the Dominican Republic. It begins at Haiti's eastern border, north of the Guayamouc River, and extends to the northwest through the northern peninsula. The Plateau Central (Central Plateau) extends along both sides of the Guayamouc River, south of the Massif du Nord. It runs from the southeast to the northwest. To the southwest of the Plateau Central are the Montagnes Noires, whose most northwestern part merges with the Massif du Nord.
  • The southern region consists of the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac (the southeast) and the mountainous southern peninsula (also known as the Tiburon Peninsula). The Plaine du Cul-de-Sac is a natural depression which harbors the country's saline lakes, such as Trou Caïman and Haiti's largest lake Lac Azuei (also known as Etang Saumatre). The Chaîne de la Selle mountain range, an extension of the southern mountain chain of the Dominican Republic (the Sierra de Baoruco), extends from the Massif de la Selle in the east to the Massif de la Hotte in the west. This mountain range harbors Pic la Selle, the highest point in Haiti at 2,680 metres (8,793 ft).


Numerous smaller islands make up a part of Haiti's total territory. The most notable islands are:

  1. La Gonâve, the largest offshore island of mainland Hispaniola located to the west-northwest of Port-au-Prince in Haiti's Gulf of Gonâve, in the Caribbean Sea (the largest gulf of the Antilles). It has an area of 743 km². Its Taíno name was Guanabo Île de la Gonâve (as it is known in French was once a pirate base.
  2. Tortuga, the second largest offshore island of the mainland, located off the northwest coast of Hispaniola, in the Caribbean Sea. It has an area of 180 km². The island was a major center of Caribbean piracy during the 17th century and has become famous in many works of literature and film. The island's name (meaning turtle) derives from the turtle-like shape of the island.
  3. Île à Vache, a small and lush island located off southwestern de l'Ile d'Haiti. Its total area is 52 km². Its name means Island of Cows in French.
  4. Les Cayemites, a pair of islands located in the Gulf of Gonâve off the coast of southwest Hispaniola. It has a combined area of 45 km².

Haiti also harbors several lakes. The largest lake of Haiti, and the second largest lake of Ile d'Haiti and the West Indies, is Lake Azuei. It is located in the Cul-de-Sac Depression with an area of 170 km². It is a saline lake with a higher concentration of salt than the sea water and harbors numerous fauna such as crocodiles and flamingos.

Another lake (manmade) is Lake Peligre, an artificial lake created by the construction of the Peligre Hydroelectric Dam.

Trou Caïman another saltwater lake with a total area of 16.2 km²), Lake Miragoâne one of the largest natural freshwater lakes in the Caribbean, with an area of 25 km²).

See also

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