Gonâve Island

Coordinates: 18°50′N 73°05′W / 18.833°N 73.083°W / 18.833; -73.083
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

La Gonâve
Native name:
La Gonâve is located in Haiti
La Gonâve
La Gonâve
Gonâve Island (Haiti)
LocationGulf of Gonâve
Coordinates18°50′N 73°05′W / 18.833°N 73.083°W / 18.833; -73.083
Area689.62 km2 (266.26 sq mi)
Highest elevation778 m (2552 ft)
Highest pointMorne La Pierre
Largest settlementAnse-à-Galets (pop. 49,050)
Population87,077 (2015)
Pop. density126/km2 (326/sq mi)
Pointe Fantasque Lighthouse Edit this at Wikidata
Foundationconcrete base
Constructionmetal skeletal tower
Height15 m (49 ft) Edit this on Wikidata
Shapesquare pyramidal tower with balcony and light[1][2]
Markingswhite tower
Power sourcesolar power Edit this on Wikidata
Focal height20 m (66 ft) Edit this on Wikidata
Range9 nmi (17 km; 10 mi) Edit this on Wikidata
CharacteristicQ(6)+LFI W 15s Edit this on Wikidata

Gonâve Island or Zile Lagonav (French: Île de la Gonâve, pronounced [ɡɔ.nɑv]; also La Gonâve) is an island of Haiti located west-northwest of Port-au-Prince in the Gulf of Gonâve. It is the largest of the Hispaniolan satellite islands. The island is an arrondissement (Arrondissement de La Gonâve) or Ouest-Insulaire in the Ouest and includes the communes of Anse-à-Galets and Pointe-à-Raquette.[3]


La Gonâve or Gonave is a francized form of Guanabo, the Taíno and later Spanish name for the island and region.


Taíno period[edit]

The indigenous Taínos called the island Guanabo. Under the leadership of Hatuey, the island was the last refuge of the natives after the invasion of the Europeans.

European period[edit]

No major French or Spanish settlement was built in La Gonâve. During the colonial period, the island was uninhabited by colonists, which led the indigenous Taínos to seek refuge there after early battles with the Spanish.[4] Runaway slaves in the French period, too, sometimes sought out the island for a place to hide from their owners on the mainland.[5]

Haitian period[edit]

The island has been officially under Haitian control since Toussaint Louverture and the Constitution of 1801.

Modern period[edit]

On July 18, 1926, U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Faustin E. Wirkus (1896–1945) was proclaimed by the residents of the island as King Faustin II, where he ruled over the island with the tribal queen Ti Mememnne as co-monarchs. His reign lasted until 1929, when he peacefully abdicated and returned home to the United States.[6] Ti Memenne would continue to unofficially rule the island until her death in that same year. For context, Haiti is a republic and abolished the monarchy in 1859 with Fabre Nicolas Geffrard.

In the mid-1980s, British singer Cliff Richard wrote and recorded a song "La Gonave" for relief aid for the people of the island. It is included on his album The Rock Connection.

The island's docks were damaged by the 2010 Haiti earthquake of 12 January 2010. In the wake of the damage, supplies have been airlifted in to the 550-metre (1,800 ft) dirt strip.[7]

Overgrazing and over-exploitation of water resources affect the island's current residents.[citation needed]

Independence movement[edit]

The island inhabitants have pushed the idea of independence from Haiti in order to achieve economic prosperity. Although this is unconstitutional, La Gonave has a case for being an eventual special territory or department. [citation needed]

1818 Map of Gonâve Island


The island sits in the middle of the Gulf of Gonave, south of St-Marc, north of Miragoanes, and west of Port-au-Prince. It forms the canal of St-Marc with the Cote des Arcadins and the Canal of the South and Miragoanes.

Made up of mostly limestone, the reef-fringed island of Gonâve is 60 km (37 mi) long and 15 km (9 mi) wide and covers an area of 743 km2 (287 sq mi). The island is mostly barren and hilly with the highest point reaching 778 m (2,552 ft). The island receives between 800 mm (31 in) to 1,600 mm (63 in) of rain a year, higher elevations representing the latter figure.[8]

The barren, dry nature of the soil has long prevented agricultural development on the island and kept the population lower than it otherwise might have been.

Administrative division[edit]

La Gonâve arrondissement is divided into two communes: Anse-à-Galets and Pointe-à-Raquette. These are further subdivided into eleven sections and two towns (villes). The towns are Anse-à-Galets and Pointe-à-Raquette, named after their respective communes. Anse-à-Galets is the largest settlement on the island with an estimated 2015 population of 52,662 of the island's total population of 87,077.[9][10]

Anse-à-Galets Pointe-à-Raquette
1st Palma 5th Gros Mangle
2nd Petite Source 6th La Source
3rd Grande Source 7th Grand Vide
4th Grand Lagon 8th Trou Louis
10th Picmy (Pickmy) 9th Pointe-à-Raquette
11th Petite Anse

Water scarcity[edit]

In 2005, following a particularly drastic drought, the Mayor of Anse-à-Galets formed the Water Platform, composed of service groups working on the island. Current participants include the Mayors of Anse-à-Galets and Pointes a Racquette, the Deputy, Justice of the Peace, World Vision, Concern WorldWide, Sevis Kretyen, the Matènwa Community Learning Center, the Alleghany Weslyen Church, the Methodist Church, Haiti Outreach and many others. The Water Platform acts as a focal point for activities on the island, providing a coordination point for the multitude of groups working on La Gonâve.

Assistance efforts[edit]

The members of the Water Platform have been working to address the water needs of the island by capping springs, building rainwater catchment cisterns, building water systems and drilling wells. Dozens of rainwater catchment cisterns and wells have been drilled on the island as an effort to bring water relief to the residents of the island.

2002–2004 Guts Church funded construction of a school providing first through sixth grade education and construction of a medical clinic providing free medical, dental and vision services for Haitians

As of 2007, there were two non-profit groups actively drilling water wells on the island: Haiti Outreach, which has financed and drilled water wells in 25 communities; and Guts Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Tougher Than Hell Motorcycle Rally, organized by Guts Church, has sponsored 10 water wells drilled on the island.

In 2010 Coordinated relief efforts after the 12 January earthquake. $250,000 was raised for this relief project. Medical supplies, building supplies, 150 tons of rice and beans and a backhoe were purchased. Aid was shipped to La Gonâve via a leased vessel and delivered directly to La Gonâve in early March 2010. The aid shipment fed 50,000 people for one month.

As of 2011 there are over 70 water wells fully functional on the island

The drilling of more wells on the island has been planned for the near future.[11]

Since 2007, the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit Roots of Development and its La Gonâve-based Haitian sister organization Rasin Devlopman have been providing leadership and capacity-building programs to community leaders and locally elected officials on the island. The two organizations provide leaders access to professional facilitators, workshops and trainings, and material and financial resources, to help them strengthen local capacity and improve quality of life on the island.

Founded in 2014, the Australian-based non-profit organisation For You Haiti began coordinating surgeries for children from la Gonâve island. The children receive medical treatment on the mainland of Haiti and in the United States. For You Haiti has a mentoring program for men and women to start small businesses in Haiti, with the goal of empowering communities to break the cycle of poverty. In 2016, For You Haiti started the Hungry Tummies Project at Complexe Scolaire Amis des Enfants and began growing their own food in the region of Palma, in the hope of making lasting change for the la Gonâvian people.

"Fierté gonavienne" disaster[edit]

On 8 September 1997, a ferry from La Gonâve to the Montrouis on the Haitian mainland sank with hundreds of passengers aboard. It is considered the worst disaster in Haitian maritime history since the "Neptune" accident in 1993.[12]

Sports team[edit]

Notable natives and residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of Haiti". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 22 January 2017.
  2. ^ List of Lights, Pub. 110: Greenland, The East Coasts of North and South America (Excluding Continental U.S.A. Except the East Coast of Florida) and the West Indies (PDF). List of Lights. United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. 2016.
  3. ^ Description de Saint-Domingue, M.L.E. Moreau de Saint-Méry, vol. 2, p. 528, Philadelphia: 1798.
  4. ^ Description de Saint-Domingue, p. 528.
  5. ^ "Les Affiches Américaines", 19 March 1766, pg. 102 (accessed 30 May 2014)
  6. ^ Wallace, Amy; Jane Farrow; IRA Basen (November 2005). "9 Ordinary men who became king (#9)". The Book of Lists, the Canadian Edition: The Original Compendium of Curious Information. Knopf Canada. p. 273. ISBN 0-676-97720-0.
  7. ^ The Bahamas Weekly, "Bahamas Habitat completes 150th Haiti relief flight", GeneralAviationNews.com, 4 February 2010 (accessed 4 February 2010)
  8. ^ "National Aeronautics and Space Administration". Archived from the original on 10 October 2006. Retrieved 7 September 2006.
  9. ^ "Sections communales et villes de la République d'Haiti". Gexpert Haiti. Retrieved 29 May 2014.
  10. ^ IHSI, "POPULATION TOTALE, POPULATION DE 18 ANS ET PLUS MENAGES ET DENSITES ESTIMES EN 2009" Archived 24 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine, March 2009 (accessed 30 May 2014)
  11. ^ "About | You Help Haiti". Archived from the original on 7 December 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  12. ^ Rohter, Larry (9 September 1997). "More Than 300 Feared Lost on Haiti Ferry". New York Times. Retrieved 1 April 2016.