Port-au-Prince (Kreyol: Potoprens) is the capital and largest city of Haiti. It is also the seat of Port-au-Prince Arrondissement. The city proper covers 14 square miles (36 km2) with an estimated population of 987,310 in 2015, making it the second largest city in the West Indies and the 49th largest Latin-American city.
The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Port-au-Prince, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 2,618,894 people in 2016 and ranking as the 30th such area in North America.
In terms of political importance, geographical position and sheer magnificence, the superlative city of the Republic is Port-au-Prince, the capital.
Port-au-Prince is one of the oldest cities in the Western Hemisphere, founded on the Cul-de-Sac Plain in 1749 by sugar planters from France. It was the scene of several key events of the Haitian Revolution, such as 1791 uprising, the British occupation and withdrawal, and the Haitian Declaration of Independence. Upon Haitian independence from France, it continued to be an important port and export hub as well as a center for the arts and culture. Port-au-Prince was celebrated for its impressive public buildings, canals, theaters, and thoroughfares, many of which led from distant provinces. The most prominent features were the Morne l'Hôpital and the hills. Both places overlooked the city, the hub of the entire nation.
The city has never expanded beyond its 14 square mile land area. Its rich history attracts many tourists. Recently, tourism has become an important part of Port-au-Prince's economy, however most tourist activity focuses around the city's historic districts and affluent areas. The Port-au-Prince area's many vendors make it an center of business and the city is considered to be a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship. Port-au-Prince's economic base also includes coffee, sugar, food, soap, textiles, and cement.
Alternatively described as the glorious crowning achievement of mankind and as the sewer of the universe where all the scum from every corner of history gathered, Port-au-Prince had reasons for both civic pride in its architecture and shame for staggering urban social problems not unlike the typical city.
In 1749, the site of Port-au-Prince was mainly retained as the capital of Leeward Islands for military, administrative and economic reasons. Very quickly, after its foundation, would natural disasters disrupt its growth. In 1751, for example, two hurricanes and two trenches of earth destroyed almost all the houses in the city. Later in 1770, new devastating earthquakes led to an order prohibiting building other than wood or masonry between posts. Despite these misfortunes, during the colonial period, Port-au-Prince remained a prosperous city whose development and fortune were based on commercial relations linking the colony to the metropolis. This prosperity ends in 1791 with civil wars and the War of Independence. Many fires ravaged the city. A century later, ie at the end of the 19th century, the infrastructure of the capital improved (construction of schools, public buildings, a sewage system, public lighting, street repair...). The North American occupation marked the beginning of the rapid growth of the capital; the occupiers reorganized the administration, however, for political and economic reasons, they favored the centralization of activities in Port-au-Prince to the detriment of provincial towns and ports. After 1950, centralization and migration intensified thereby disrupting the urban environment. Towards the end of the century, the infrastructures improved, the industrialization developed but at the same time the urban problems multiplied: proliferation of the zones of precarious housing, densification and degradation of the urban center, alarming deficiency of the urban services, uncontrolled spatial extension, breakage of ecological balance etc.
As the commune and capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince has three (3) communal sections. It is coastal, its climate is mostly hot. Its inhabitants are called Port-au-Princiens. In 1998, its population was estimated at 981,213 and was projected in 2004 to nearly 1,230,000. It is the densest municipality of the country.
For economic and financial infrastructure, Port-au-Prince has over seventy hotels (large and small), over 400 restaurants (Bar, snack included), two dozen Banks (mother houses and annexes), and dozens of Caisses populaires and Marketing cooperatives.
The commercial and economic establishments are numerous in the municipality, one can cite for example: Dozens of markets (large and small), a few dozen department Stores, hundreds of shops, hundreds of food supply centers, User clothing Depots (pépé), clairin deposits, and hundreds of coal and food products, pharmacies and beauty studios.
Saturday is market day in Port-au-Prince; the chance to meet friends, gossip and shop draws large crowds to the Haitian capital. Sophisticated, French-educated members of the urban ruling class crammed into the market square beside illiterate farmers, a generation removed from slavery, who walk in from the surrounding villages for a rare day out.
Port-au-Prince is built on a hillside, and it is set up in such a manner that neighborhoods are distinguishable from one another as travelers move up or down the hillside. This differs from other cities in that most locations have neighborhoods which are each contained within one small space; in Port-au-Prince they extend horizontally around the hillside. For example, one neighborhood rings the entire base of the hillside, so that one point of the neighborhood is directly across the hill from the other. That same point may be only a short distance from the next neighborhood which is just slightly above it in elevation.
This is important to know because the neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince are said to go up in value as they go up in elevation.
The City of Port-au-Prince is split into three Communal sections:
|1. TUG 1re Section Turgeau
Localities: Bourdon, Boutilier, Canape-Vert, Deprez, Fort National, Turgeau.
|2. MOH 2e Section Morne l'Hôpital
Localities: Carrefour Feuille
|3. MTS 3e Section Martissant
Localities: Bizoton, Bolosse, Fort Mercredi, Martissant
The commune of Port-au-Prince occupies an area of 36.04 km2 (14 Sq mi), and is located at the western end of the Cul-de-Sac plain at the end of Port-au-Prince bay, forming itself part of the Gulf of Gonâve. She is leaning on the Chaîne de la Selle mountains to the south where we find among others the wealthy suburb of Pétion-Ville. Port-au-Prince is traversed by some streams including the Bâtarde River and the ravine of Bois-de-Chêne.
The city itself is spread over 16 hills:
As the national capital, Port-au-Prince is the center of the country's economy. It is one of the leading exporters of coffee and sugar. It also used to export baseballs, shoes and other goods. Many food-processing plants and factories of soap, cement and textile, as well as construction companies can be found in Port-au-Prince.
Regarding temperatures, they are regular all year round with an average annual temperature of 26.5 ° C (80F). The regularity of warm temperatures throughout the year is characteristic of tropical climates. Rainfall is relatively high, with an average of 51 inches per year. This average is slightly lower than the average rainfall in the country. This is explained by the location of Port-au-Prince in the Cul-de-Sac Plain, which experiences a much drier climate. Nevertheless, proximity to the ocean tends to soften temperatures by refreshing the air temperature. Port-au-Prince therefore benefits from a maritime influence.
In Port-au-Prince, 2 peaks of precipitation are observed, April-May then from August to October. Climatic analysis is important to understand the water course of rivers.
Tourism used to have a lot of potential, as the capital was once a popular destination for cruises. However, political unrest, higher crime rate and other factors made it a little less attractive to tourists, leading to a huge drop in tourism. Currently, there are no more cruise ships coming to the city's ports.
The non-profit Haiti Jazz, in collaboration with Caracoli and Haiti Music, came together to launch the new media library in downtown Port-au-Prince recently. The House of Music (kay mizik la in Créole) was built as an archival storage space to house collections of Haiti's music history, its recordings, documented history, and music artifacts.
The European Union (EU) has subsidized the project. The motivation to create the media library was to develop awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of Haiti's cultural contribution to music arts. The EU's Cultural Secretary, Leandro Medeot, on hand at the launch, commented on the importance of developing and carrying forward the artistic and social influences of Haitian music. The House of Music will provide a forum for music industry artists, musicologists, and technology specialists to gather, share, explore, and define the evolution and impact of Haitian music on the cultural landscape.
The House of Music will offer music lovers the entire catalog of Haitian music, books on its history, and music artifacts. The modest yearly fee the House of Music plans to charge will be used to maintain staff and upkeep of the facility.
Director of Haiti Jazz, Milena Sandler, envisions a space where music professionals will hold education programs, panel discussions, seminars, and performances. She acknowledges the library budget is limited and "that all holders of works of the Haitian musical heritage will agree to share them with us, so that we can make them available to the public."
Port-au-Prince is currently headed by a mayor and it can be recalled that the capital was one of the towns that felt the full impact of the quake. A lot of historical buildings and attractions in the city were destroyed, including the Cathedral de Port-au-Prince, the Palace of Justice, and the Legislative Palace. Even though three years have already passed since the calamity, the capital has yet to fully recover from it. A lot of work still have to be done, as poverty continues to grip the country.
The Ministry of the National Youth and Sports Education is headquartered in Port-au-Prince as well as the various offices involved in the management of other offices and annexes of the Department or the entire country. Over 200 private Kindergarten were inventoried. At the primary level, twenty six public and dozens of private and congregational schools were inventoried. Fourteen public high schools, numerous private, and six Congregational were also listed.
The Ministry of Public Health and Population is headquartered in Port-au-Prince. With regard to the health facilities and staff attached to the latter, a high concentration was observed at the level of the commune in relation to the other municipalities in the country. Hundreds of doctors, dentists, nurses, and auxiliaries were counted in the health facilities of the commune.
With regard to the availability of water, in addition to the drinking water supply network that hardly covers the commune, there is currently a number of Community fountains (28) at the neighbourhood level that allow people to feed a little more Easily in drinking water. Most of the commune of Port-au-Prince is electrified.
Chicago and Port-au-Prince were both founded by men of Haitian descent, but that is where their similarity ends. Chicago built its own underground sewer system for both waste water and storm water back in the 1856. Port-au-Prince, one of the largest cities of million people, has no sewer system. It is noteworthy to mention that just 4 years ago, the country faced the worst epidemic of cholera in recent history; more than a half-million people have gotten sick and the disease took the lives of more than 8,231 Haitians. The cumulative sewage and garbage of over 3 million people flows through open ditch. Every night, few 'bayakou' workers remove the cesspools that collect deep bogs of human waste from man-sized holes (fifty-cubic-metre) under Haiti's backyard latrines and dumped them into the city canals. During the rain, these wastes spill over the city environment before going to the sea. People living seaside, use over-the-sea hanging toilets and during emergency, they use some sort of plastic bag and throw the dirt out on the streets.
The U.N. senior coordinator for cholera response in Haiti has estimated that the building of a nationwide water and sanitation infrastructure would cost around $1.6 billion. But Haiti certainly can't afford to undertake such projects, and the international community does not seem very willing to help. A national project is very much needed to tackle the challenges of sewage in Haiti that will protect the public against certain preventable diseases, create many necessary employment and countless new jobs and a decent living condition will contribute towards the development of tourism in the country to give the country the much needed economic boost. The authorities must make clear what they really mean by reconstruction when there is no plan to deal with raw sewage, and there is no access to clean water for the average Haitian.
In terms of Administrative and judicial infrastructures, the commune of Port-au-Prince has several police offices (including commissariats and substations), including the Ministry of Justice, the courthouse, the peace courts and state offices Mainly in sections (North, southeast, etc.) following the place where they are located in the commune.
Nearly 173 temples (cathedrals, churches, chapels and resorts included) were counted in the commune. A diversified number of religions have been identified in the commune, the names of the latter vary depending on the mission or the person in charge.
Forty-three Political parties have representation in the commune. Ten Popular organizations, women's groups, twelve NGOs and eighteen international organizations were also inventoried in the municipality.
In the area of the telephone, the municipality has an administrative office, a telephone exchange and several ancillary offices distributed almost throughout the municipality. In addition to the Central postal office and its annexes, the municipality benefits from the service of at least ten other private institutions occupying the mail coming mainly from abroad. In addition, fifteen radio stations, eleven magazines/newspapers and two television stations were also listed in the municipality.
As for leisure, the commune of Port-au-Prince has ten libraries, three cinemas, two theatre halls, and two museums. The sports are football (soccer), volleyball, basketball, tennis, athletics, and martial arts. For monuments and sites, they are mostly of historical type. The commune of Port-au-Prince is one of the communes that has the most public squares. There are about twenty scattered in most of the commune with a high concentration going from the Champ de Mars to the level of the National Palace.
Transport in Haiti: http://umanitoba.ca/faculties/architecture/media/LU_6_Transportation_Simms.pdf
Six lessons from rebuilding Port-au-Prince