Nord-Est (English: North-East) is one of the ten departments of Haiti. It has an area of 1,805 km² and a population of 283,800 (2002). Its capital is Fort-Liberté. It borders the Dominican Republic to the east.
The department is divided in 4 arrondissements:
- Fort-Liberté Arrondissement
- Ouanaminthe Arrondissement
- Trou-du-Nord Arrondissement
- Vallières Arrondissement
The North-East department is one of the 10 departments of Haiti, bounded by the North department to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the north, the Dominican Republic to the east and the Central department to the south.
Before looking closer at the North-East, it is important to look at Northern Haiti in general. The term Northern Haiti usually refers to what is today both the North and North-East departments.
The North-East is often discussed in parallel with the North department which is understandable given that the North-East was administratively divided apart from the North relatively recently, in 1971. The North department’s capital, Cap-Haïtien, is also the second largest city in Haiti and a hub of economic and cultural activity the importance of which trickles over to the North-East. The North-East thus finds itself often paired with the North. Here too we begin our look of the North-East within the larger context of Northern Haiti.
In the last decade, Northern Haiti has gained significant economic momentum. The foundations for growth including physical infrastructure, communication and safety are improving. Northern Haiti was also spared the direct damage of the devastating 2010 earthquake.
Some of the progress is nation-wide; for instance in telecommunications where mobile use is now widespread and Internet availability continuously improving.
Other advances are regional, such as the national highway #6 (a 2008 European-Union funded project) that now efficiently connects Cap-Haitien to Ouanaminthe and the municipalities and districts of Trou-du-Nord, Caracol and Fort-Liberté.
The availability of electricity in certain districts of the North-East has improved drastically, largely due to the Caracol Industrial Park (CIP).
There are several large-scale investment projects of note such as the 1,000 hectare banana-plantain plantation known as Agritrans, and the USAID funded "Feed the Future" program investing approximately $88 million USD in the modernization of agriculture in the region. One of Haiti’s main exports at this time is apparel and the textile industry is certainly visible in the North-East. The Caracol Industrial Park now joins the CODEVI park, together maximizing on the trade preferences extended to Haitian manufactured apparel and the abundance of casual and cheap labor in the region.
The two industrial parks currently employ about 13,000 local workers in textile and garment production. Meanwhile, next door in the North department, the Cap-Haitien airport has recently been adapted and expanded to accommodate international flights, providing Haiti with a second international airport after Port-au-Prince.
Also, in 2012, a $30 million USD project financed by the Dominican Republic, instigated what is considered to be the most modern university of Haiti, the campus of the Roi Henri Christophe University in Limonade.
All of these factors, both structural and in terms of the scale, importance and diversity of the ongoing projects, have greatly affected development in Northern Haiti (and so too in the North-East). An important flow of activity and investment now runs through Northern Haiti; this crucial artery connecting Cap-Haitien to Ouanaminthe is known as the North Corridor. A large part of the North corridor is in the North-East.
Nevertheless, it is easy to overlook the North-East as the go-through department; one can easily move from busy Cap-Haitien to the Dominican border and pay little attention to what lies in between.
While the North-East certainly draws momentum from its neighbors, it is still distinctly its own department and there is a unique context to be discovered here. With this in mind, this short book dedicated specifically to the North-East has come to light.