Hispaniola is a Caribbean island that hosts two countries, Haiti in the west and the Dominican Republic in the east. The two have distinct cultures and histories, with their differences arguably rooted in geography and climate as well as the activities of colonial France and Spain. The Dominican Republic benefits from more frequent rain falling on eastern Hispaniola, and while Haiti's colonial economy was more developed in the nineteenth century, with a much bigger population than on the Spanish side, over time the west was stripped of resources such as timber and well-managed agricultural land. The result is a higher modern population in Haiti than the Dominican Republic, and in turn a higher population density.
Hispaniola has seen several earthquakes over the centuries, including disasters in 1770 and 1842 which destroyed the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and other settlements. Large parts of Port-au-Prince were again devastated in the 2010 Haiti earthquake, with reconstruction expected to take many years.
- Guardian: 'A divided island: the forces working against Haiti'. 15th January 2010. Discussion by Jared Diamond.
- BBC News: 'Why did so many people die in Haiti's quake?'. 14th February 2010.