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Cap-Haïtien

Administration
Full nameCap-Haïtien
Official nameCap-Haïtien
Native nameKapayisyen, Okap
CountryHaiti
DepartmentNord
ArrondissementCap-Haïtien
Government
MayorMichel St Croix
Geography
Elevation0 ft (0 m)
Demography
Total Population200251 (8 August 2005)
Other information
Time zoneEastern (UTC-5)
- Summer (DST)Eastern (UTC-4)

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Cap-Haïtien (Okap or Kapayisyen in Kréyòl) is a city of about 190,000 people on the north coast of Haiti. Previously, named as Cap-Français, Cap-Henri, and le Caps, 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, and was also the first capital of the Kingdom of Northern Haiti under King Henri Christophe.

Cap-Haïtien's distance from Haïti's capital, Port-au-Prince, combined with the dire condition of Haïti's transportation infrastructure, has often made Cap-Haïtien an incubator for revolutionary or anti-Government figures. On February 5 29, 2004, the city was taken over by militants who opposed to the rule of Haïtian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, forcing him out from the country.

The central area of the city is located between the Bay of Cap-Haïtien to the east, and nearby mountainsides to the west, which 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 Haïti from 1915 1934, Cap-Haïtien's north-south streets were renamed as single letters (beginning with Rue A, a major avenue), and its east-west streets with numbers. This system breaks down outside of the central city, which is itself dominated by numerous markets, churches, and low-rise apartment buildings (3 4 floors each) constructed primarily before and during the U.S. occupation. Many such buildings have balconies on the upper floors which overlook the narrow streets below, creating an intimate communal atmosphere during the Haitian dinner hours.

Cap-Haïtien is the city of the historic Haïtian town of Milot, which lies 12 miles to the southwest along a gravel road. Milot was Haïti's first site capital under the self-proclaimed King Henri Christophe, who ascended to power in 1807, three years after Haïti had gained independence from France, renaming the city as Cap-Henri. As a result, Milot hosts the ruins of the Sans-Souci Palace, wrecked by the 1842 earthquake, as well as the Citadelle Laferrière, a massive stone fortress bristling with cannons. The Citadelle is located five miles from Milot, atop a nearby mountain. On clear days, its silhouette is visible from Cap-Haïtien.

The small Cap-Haïtien International Airport, located on the southeast edge of the city, is currently served by several small domestic airlines and is patrolled by Chilean UN troops. The city hosts several hundred UN personnel as part of the ongoing United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).


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