Jacmel (Kreyol: Jakmèl; Spanish: Yáquimois) is a coastal city in southern Haïti. Founded in 1698, it is the capital of the of the Southeast Department. It is also the chief city of the arrondissement of the same name. Jacmel is one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean and has been accepted as a World Heritage Site.


Jacmel, SE, Haiti

Jacmel is becoming one of the Caribbean's flagship tourist cities and is being nicknamed the Creative City. The tropical temperature is favorable all year round for the tourists. The seaside the beaches make Jacmel the primary tourist city of Haiti.


City of Jacmel


Location in Haiti



Jacmel is the principal municipality in Greater Jacmel, which had a total population of 340,000 in 2015. It is located on Baie de Jacmel just south of the split of Riviere de la Cosse (also called "Grande Rivière de Jacmel") and Riviere Gosse on Haiti's Côte Sud. It is the 12th largest city in Haiti (after Léogâne), with a population of 170,300 people as of the 2015 census.

Villanueva de Yaquimo (Jacmel) was founded in 1504 by Spanish settlers, and almost 200 years later rediscovered by the French.


Historic map of Jacmel Market and environs

Jacmel is the home of Ciné Institute, Haiti's only film school - 'a magical place where magic is taught and made'. UPSEJ (Université Publique du Sud'Est à Jacmel) is another university located within the city limits.

Jacmel was the first city in the Caribbean to have electricity, producing the nickname "The City of Light". The Venezuelan flag was also created in Jacmel.


Women dancing in Jacmel's Historic District


Founded in 1698 by the Company of Santo Domingo, Jacmel prospered thanks to the maritime trade. In 1804, at the time of the Haitian Revolution, Jacmel was a strategic southern port. It was disputed in 1799 by the generals Toussaint Louverture and André Rigaud. It was the lieutenant of Rigaud, the future president Alexandre Pétion, who handled the defense of Jacmel, during the knife war. A real war of extermination was waged against the Mulattoes of the South; nearly 10,000 of them perished despite the intervention of the superior officer Magloire Ambroise who saved the lives of hundreds of respected families in Jacmel and was considered a hero by the population of this city at that time and who will be named commander of Jacmel in 1802 by Jean-Jacques Dessalines. The forces of Toussaint besieged the city in November 1799; its fall in March 1800 guaranteed the triumph of Toussaint. Pétion and Rigaud went into exile in France.



Map of Downtown Jacmel, with Carnaval route highlighted in yellow


The commune of Jacmel, of its former name "Yaquimel" is the chief place of the South-East Department which includes eleven communes. Raised to the rank of commune in 1854, the city was founded over 300 years ago. It is one of the oldest cities in the country, yet the past and the present are harmoniously. In terms of infrastructure, it remains poorly equipped. with twelve (12) communal sections, it measures approximately 457.35 km2. The plains are the dominant relief and the climate is considered normal. The city of Jacmel has only two extension areas: Lamandou and La monchille. These areas consist of well-built houses. In 1998, the population of this commune was estimated at 135 499 inhabitants (86.7% of this population lived in rural areas). It reached approximately 137,370 in the year 2000, 141,524 in 2004, and 187,000 in 2015.

Hotel de ville Jacmel City Hall

The city is on the east bank of the mouth of the river La Cosse (also called "Grande Rivière de Jacmel"), at the place where it empties in the bay of Jacmel. The Orangers river crosses the city of Jacmel before flowing into the Grande Rivière de Jacmel at its mouth on the bay of Jacmel.

To the west is the mouth of the Petite Rivière de Jacmel and its natural and tourist site of Bassin Bleu.


The town is populated by 170,289 inhabitants, including 39,643 inhabitants for the [inner] city itself, called Jacméliens.

The economic dynamism of this city is reflected in its demographic growth, but a real policy of urban planning still remains to be carried out, at the risk of seeing the shantytowns proliferate there as it is the case for the rest of Haiti.


Jacmel's Historic District

Jacmel is divided into 11 districts. Urban districts are in the center, while rural are outlying, but still within city limits.


1, 5 and 6.


1 - 11

JAC Jacmel 187,253
VJA Ville de Jacmel 48,248
QMB Quartier de Marbial 566
BCG 1ère Section Bas Cap Rouge 39,127
FDM 2ème Section Fonds Melon (Selle et Michineau) 1,891
CGR 3ème Section Cochon Gras 13,078
LGS 4ème Section La Gosseline 5,333
MBL 5ème Section Marbial 1,895
MLV 6ème Section Montagne La Voute 21,003
GRJ 7ème Section Grande Rivière de Jacmel 6,806
BCH 8ème Section Bas Coq Chante 10,801
HCH 9ème Section Haut Coq Qui Chante 6,252
LVN 10ème Section La Vanneau 10,591
LMG 13ème Section La Montagne 21,662

Rue Charmant; Jacmel, SE, Haiti


In terms of economic and financial infrastructures, Jacmel has, on the one hand, a minimum of hotels and restaurants that offer their services according to their capacity, to local and foreign visitors; on the other hand, it has two banks, caisses populaires and commercial cooperatives which insure the monetary transactions of the commune.

Jacmel's artisanal production includes paper mâché, woodworking, fabric painting, jewelry and Richelieu style embroidery. At the root of this artistic fervor is the creativity of the artist Moro Baruk who inspired and trained hundreds of craftsmen.



In terms of economic activities two points are to be noted: 1- By the tradition of the town (especially in town), trade remains the most important, agriculture comes after because it is practiced in an archaic way especially in the communal sections. 2- The city itself, with all its craftsmen, is considered a vast workshop. Cosmopolitan and tourist town, many vestiges and specific moments have marked the life or the social, cultural, economic history of the town. We can cite as examples: in 1816, it was considered as land of asylum for Simon Bolivar and in 1826 for Francisco de Miranda; the pre-manufactured iron market, imported from Belgium in 1895. The house where Simon Bolivar lived, the Manoir d'Alexandra built after the fire of the city of Jacmel (September 19, 1896), etc. In addition, the carnival, an annual folk festival that continues to perpetuate the tradition, the various beaches and tourist sites make the municipality of Jacmel a privileged place for both local and foreign visitors.



The Ministry of National Education has been represented for over nine years in the commune of Jacmel. The departmental office is the seat of this representation. It consists of a staff of 39 members (24 men and 15 women) and a departmental director as manager. Two "Kindergarten" and 64 pre-school and primary schools have been inventoried in the commune with: 47% of public schools, 42% of private schools and 11% of congregational or mission schools. For the Secondary level, a total of eleven schools were registered, two public and nine private. For the moment, there is no "Literacy Center" in Jacmel, there are among others four technical and vocational schools with various fields of specialization: cabinet making, mechanics, sewing, haute couture, accounting, computer science, and auto-School, amongst others. At the University level, there is only the Faculty of Law of Jacmel which received nearly 300 students at the time of the collection of information.


The Ministry is represented by a departmental office and a communal office. A hospital, eight dispensaries located in certain communal sections and at least fourteen private clinics serve the population of the commune and its surroundings.


With regard to the water supply, five rivers have been inventoried, three of them are used for watering. Of the listed sources, four of them were collected and distributed by the National Drinking Water Service (SNEP) for domestic use. For electricity, only the city and its suburbs benefit from the current produced by the electric motor of the Electricity of Haiti (EDH).



Jacmelian Mural

Jacmel has a notable carnival activity in the Caribbean region, and one of his characters (the robalagallina, imitation or caricature of the planter's wife) was adopted by the carnival of the Dominican Republic. The festive behavior of the Jacmelians earned them a fame of "dyoles" (exhibitionists).

During the Easter celebrations, a big parade of bands of rara under the rhythms of petro and congo, is organized there. The civil authorities organize it to promote Haitian culture, which is closely linked to that of southern Africa.

Jacmel is also known for its patron day celebrations on the first of May every year. During this festival, the musical groups of Haiti meet in Jacmel and its surroundings for concerts called in Kreyol "ball". On May 18, the Jacmeliens celebrate their flag with large parades of fanfares throughout the city. In November Jacmel perpetuates the traditional "Festival of the Dead" (November 1 and 2).

Jacmel also organizes two international festivals (music festival and film festival) that have already hosted internationally renowned


In terms of the number of temples, churches and chapels, Catholicism (30) and Baptism (40) are the most represented in the commune than other religions.


In the field of communication, Jacmel benefits from a telephone service with over a thousand lines available. The postal service operates with a staff of nine members of which two factors ensure the delivery of mail in urban areas. Five radio stations, two magazines and four television stations provide the press service in the municipality.


Haiti remains the outstanding nation in terms of primitive art. The art industry in Haiti brings on board widely varied styles of painting.

One of the popular styles of art is Papier-mache. In making this, a wet surface is laid on a form. The surface is allowed to dry once the image is created. Distinctive colors are applied on the created image to add life and details. Haiti locals, artists and tourists have embraced this style of art.

Papier-mache has been used to create images for animals, vases, masks, political personalities etc.

Papier-mache masks are common in Jacmel, a three hour drive from the capital.

The town is recognized because of its handcrafted art. Jacmel Papier-mache masks are big and have a hollow back for ease when mounting on the wall. Locals mount these pieces of art in their living rooms to bring a livening spirit and cultural memories.


The beaches of Kabik, Ti Mouillage and Raymond des Bains constitute a strong tourist activity, of local origin and of the Haitian diaspora, in particular during the summer period.

La chute de Bassin Bleu

Les Cascades Pichon (The Pichon Waterfalls)

"Le Trou" ("The hole"), a fountain recognized for its famous annual festival, called "fête 6 janvier".

Urban planning and architectural heritageEdit

The economic and urban history as well as the architectural heritage of the old center have been well studied as part of a collaboration between the National Heritage Safeguarding Institute (Haitian Ministry of Culture) and the General Inventory of Cultural Heritage (French Ministry of Culture and Communication). The summary of the inventory work was published in the online journal.


Jacmel has been a twin city of Strasbourg, France since 1991.