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Nord-Ouest, Haiti

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Nord-Ouest (English: North-West) is one of the nine departments of Haiti. It has an area of 2,176 km² and a population of 488,500 (2002). Its capital is Port-de-Paix.

This Department is divided into 3 arrondissements:

  1. Môle Saint-Nicolas
  2. Port-de-Paix
  3. Saint-Louis du Nord

The arrondissements are divided into communes

Môle Saint-Nicolas is divided into:

  1. Baie de Henne
  2. Bombardopolis
  3. Jean-Rabel

Port-de-Paix is divided into:

  1. Bassin Bleu
  2. Chansolme
  3. La Tortue (Tortuga Island)

Saint Louis du Nord is divided into:

  1. Anse-a-Foleur

With the exception of the Tortuga Island and the coastal area near Port-de-Paix, the NW is arid and barren. Port-de-Paix, which was once a large exporter of coffee and bananas, is now importing contraband goods from Miami. Once called Valparaiso by Columbus, there are still some lovely beaches and scenery. Take the ferry to Tortuga island, once the biggest pirate bases in the Caribbean. Named for the smooth shape that reminded travelers of a turtle's shell, Tortuga's best beach is Pointe Saline at the western tip of the small island. This area is very dry and offers little shade. At Les Palmiste on the eastern coast visit a pre-Columbian rock carving of a goddess at La Grotte au Bassin and two big caves at Trou d'Enfer and La Grotte de la Galerie. Basse-Terre, on the southeastern coast is home to the remains of Fort de la Roche, once the island's biggest fortress. Along with a 15m high lime kiln, three cannons and the foundations of a wall are all that is left of Fort Ogeron, built in the mid 1600's.

From Port-de-Paix, follow the RD 151 west, past the town of Jean Rabel in order to reach Môle Saint-Nicolas. Ever since Columbus landed here in 1492 and named the island Hispaniola, Môle St-Nicolas has been of interest to everyone, including the British, French and the Americans due to its strategic location on the Windward Passage, just miles from Cuba. There are several ruined forts along the coast.

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