Haiti (/ˈheɪti/; French: Haïti[a.iti]; Haitian Creole: Ayiti[ajiti]), officially the Republic of Haiti (République d'Haïti; Repiblik Ayiti), Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and is located on the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean. It occupies the smaller western three-eighths of the island which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti is 27,750 square kilometres (10,714 sq mi) in size and has an estimated 9.9 million people, oh whom 3.4 million are illiterate. Haiti has the largest population of illiterate adults in the Western Hemisphere, by both percentage of population and total illiterate adults.
Originally inhabited by the indigenous Taíno people, the island was first sighted by Christopher Columbus during his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. When Columbus first landed in Haiti (western Hispaniola) he had thought he had found India or Asia. His flagship the Santa Maria sank after running aground on the north coast of present-day Haiti. Deciding to establish the first settlement in the area, a contingent of men were left at an outpost christened La Navidad because the wreck occurred on Christmas, north of what is now Limonade.
Gaining its independence in 1804, Haiti was the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, the second republic successful in a war of independence against a European colonial power in the Americas, the only nation in the western hemisphere to have defeated three European superpowers (Britain, France, and Spain), and the only nation in the world established as a result of a successful slave revolt. The rebellion, begun in 1791, was led by a former slave and the first black general of the French Army, Toussaint Louverture, whose military genius and political acumen transformed an entire society of slaves into the independent country. Upon his death in a prison in France, he was succeeded by his lieutenant, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who declared Haiti's sovereignty and later became the first emperor of Haiti, Jacques I. Its successful revolution by slaves and free people of color lasted nearly a decade; and apart from Alexandre Pétion, the first President of the Republic, all the first leaders of government were former slaves.
The Citadelle Laferrière is one of the largest fortresses in the Americas. Henri Christophe—former slave and first king of Haiti, Henri I—built it to withstand a possible foreign attack.
At 9.9 million people, Haiti is the most populous full member-state of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The country is also a member of the Latin Union. In 2012, Haiti announced its intention to seek associate membership status in the African Union. It has the lowest Human Development Index in the Americas. Political violence has occurred regularly throughout its history, leading to government instability. Most recently, in February 2004, a coup d'état originating in the north of the country forced the resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. A provisional government took control with security provided by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Michel Martelly, the current president, was elected in the 2011 general election.