Haiti (/ˈheɪti/; French: Haïti [a.iti]; Haitian Creole Ayiti [ajiti]), officially the Republic of Haiti (République d'Haïti; Repiblik Ayiti), is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. In French, the country's nickname is "La Perle des Antilles" (The Pearl of the Antilles), because of its natural beauty. The country's highest point is Pic la Selle, at 2,680 metres (8,793 ft). Both by area and population, Haiti is the third largest Caribbean nation (after Cuba and the Dominican Republic), with 27,750 square kilometres (10,714 sq mi) and an estimated 10.4 million people, just under a million of whom live in the capital city, Port-au-Prince. French is the official language and Haitian Creole, which is spoken by virtually everyone, has yet to be legally legislated and signed into law by the Haitian government as an official language.
Haiti's regional, historical, and ethno-linguistic position is unique for several reasons. Originally inhabited by the indigenous Taíno people, Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover the island during his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. His flagship, the Santa Maria, sank after running aground on December 25 in the north coast of what is now present day Haiti. Deciding to establish a settlement in the area, a contingent of men were left at an outpost christened La Navidad, because the wreck occurred on Christmas day, north from the modern town of Limonade
Gaining its independence in 1804, Haiti was the first independent nation of Latin America and the Caribbean, the second republic in the Americas, and the only nation in the world established as a result of a successful slave revolt. Its successful revolution by slaves and free people of color lasted nearly a decade; all the first leaders of government were former slaves. Haiti is one of two independent nations in the Americas (along with Canada) to designate French as an official language; the other French-speaking areas are all overseas départements, or collectivités, of France.
With 10.4 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.