Les Cayes

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Les Cayes
Aux Cayes
Les Cayes Cathedral
Les Cayes Cathedral
Les Cayes is located in Haiti
Les Cayes
Les Cayes
Location in Haiti
Coordinates: 18°12′0″N 73°45′0″W / 18.20000°N 73.75000°W / 18.20000; -73.75000Coordinates: 18°12′0″N 73°45′0″W / 18.20000°N 73.75000°W / 18.20000; -73.75000
ArrondissementLes Cayes
 • Total86,780
Time zoneUTC-5 (Eastern)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (Eastern)

Les Cayes (/l ˈk, l ˈk/ lay K(A)Y, French: [le kaj]), often referred to as Aux Cayes (French: [o kaj]; Haitian Creole: Okay), is a commune and seaport in the Les Cayes Arrondissement, in the Sud department of Haiti, with a population of 71,236.[1] Due to its isolation from the political turmoil of the capital, Port-au-Prince, it is one of Haiti's major ports, with export trade concentrating on mostly coffee and sugarcane. As the world's largest supplier of vetiver, it exports 250 tons annually of this ingredient of perfume and fragrance manufacturing.[2][3][4][5] Minor exports include bananas and timber.


The island of what was known by the Spanish as Hispaniola was inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples. The first European settlement in the southwest area was the town of Salvatierra de la Sabana, founded by the Spanish explorer Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar[6] in 1504. Vasco Núñez de Balboa was a co-founder of this town and lived there for several years trying to raise pigs as a business. Balboa gave up that enterprise and left the town hiding in a barrel of a Spanish expedition going to explore the Gulf of Uraba, Panama. Vasco Núñez de Balboa, later on 25 September 1513 would discover the South Sea, today known as the Pacific Ocean. This settlement was abandoned in 1540.

The area was uninhabited until the French colonial administration founded the town of Aux Cayes ("On the cayes"), so named due to its proximity to Île-à-Vache. The town was destroyed twice by hurricanes in 1781 and 1788. In July 1793, the whites in Les Cayes were massacred.[7]

Simón Bolívar twice went to Les Cayes, in 1815 and 1816, seeking assistance from President Alexander Petion for his insurgency against the Spanish colonial government in Venezuela.[8]

In December 1929, during the United States occupation of Haiti, Marines fired upon and killed Haitians protesting poor economic and social conditions under U.S. rule.[9]

In the wake of the 12 January 2010 earthquake, the Cuban military set up a field hospital in the region.[10]

On 4 October 2016, Hurricane Matthew made landfall in Les Cayes causing severe damage.[11]

On 14 August 2021, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake occurred near the city. It was the largest earthquake to strike Haiti in modern history, even stronger than the 2010 earthquake near the Haitian capital.[12] The earthquake killed over 2,200 people and injured around 12,700 others, most of them in Les Cayes and its surrounding areas.[13]


Les Cayes plays a significant role in the still under-developed Haitian tourism industry, with pleasant sights such as: Gelée Beach: one of the longest and most visited beaches in Haiti. The white sand beach of Gelée beach is very popular in Haiti, not only for its restaurants which serve typical southern Haiti dishes such as tonm-tonm, grilled-conch, grilled-fish and lobster, but also for hosting an annual music festival around mid-August which usually features some of the best Compas music bands. Many visitors both from within Haiti and neighboring USA will come spend the weekend in Les Cayes. As the number of tourists continues to grow, several new hotels and restaurants continue to pop up.

The Botanical Garden of Les Cayes (Jardin Botanique des Cayes, in French) is located in Bergeau, at the northern entrance of the city. The site occupies an area of eight (8) hectares. Other places of interest to tourists are the nearby Île à Vache, Pic Macaya, Saut-Mathurine falls and Kounoubois cave in Camp-Perrin, Pointe-de-Sable beach in Port-Salut, Marie-Jeanne cave in Port-a-Piment and Arrondissement Aquin where Fort des Oliviers, Fort Anglais and Bonnet Carré can be found in the town of Saint Louis du Sud.



Les Cayes has an airport, Antoine-Simon Airport. As of 1 February 2013, the first stone on the expansion project of the Antoine-Simon Airport in Les Cayes had been laid. The project to make Antoine-Simon a viable international airport is part of broader efforts aiming at ramping up infrastructure development in the south.[14]

The expansion project will add a new 3,000-metre runway and a new terminal to the airport. Haitian officials Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and Tourism Minister Stéphanie Villedrouin suggested that the airport would open up completely the Southern Region as the country saw tourism as one of the promising sectors capable of creating thousands of new jobs in the region.[15]

Another airport project is also planned for the neighbouring island of Île-à-Vache.[16]


Les Cayes has some training centers of which The American University of the Caribbean, Haiti; The Public University of The South in Les Cayes, (UPSAC); and The Law and Economics School of Les Cayes (EDSEC).


Hôpital Immaculée Conception (Immaculate Conception Hospital, also referred to as HIC-Cayes), is the public hospital for Les Cayes and the South Department. Its facilities include an emergency department, maternity ward, and a dental clinic.


Les Cayes is home to professional football clubs, America des Cayes and FC Juventus des Cayes.

Notable natives and residents[edit]


  1. ^ "IHSI" (PDF). 'Institut Haïtien de Statistique et d’Informatique. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  2. ^ Frager, Haiti: shortening the perfume chain to become world number one, International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 3/2001
  3. ^ The Guardian, ed. (4 March 2014). "Perfume manufacturers must cope with the scarcity of precious supplies". Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  4. ^ Adams, David (24 April 2014). "FEATURE-Perfumers promote fair trade for Haiti's 'super-crop'". Reuters. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  5. ^ FIDA, ed. (2014). "Did you know? Haiti is one of the World's Leading Vetiver Producers". Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  6. ^ Floyd, Troy (1973). The Columbus Dynasty in the Caribbean, 1492-1526. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. p. 63.
  7. ^ Franklin W. Knight; Colin A. Palmer (1989). The Modern Caribbean. UNC Press Books. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-8078-4240-9. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  8. ^ Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1996). Dignity. University of Virginia Press. p. 191. ISBN 978-0-8139-1674-3.
  9. ^ "Les Cayes | Haiti". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  10. ^ Caribbean Net News, "Cuba to open fifth field hospital in Haiti"[permanent dead link], 5 February 2010. Accessed 5 February 2010
  11. ^ Haïti: Premier bilan après le passage de l'ouragan Matthew. SOS Children's Villages International (Report) (in French). ReliefWeb. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  12. ^ "undefined".
  13. ^ "Death toll from Haiti earthquake rises to 2,248". BERNAMA. 9 July 2021. Archived from the original on 7 September 2021. Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  14. ^ Caribbean Journal "Haiti Lays First Stone on Expansion of Airport in Les Cayes "
  15. ^ Caribbean Journal "Haiti Lays First Stone on Expansion of Airport in Les Cayes "
  16. ^ Caribbean Journal "Haiti Lays First Stone on Expansion of Airport in Les Cayes "
  17. ^ Schutt-Ainé, Patricia (1994). Haiti: A Basic Reference Book. Miami, Florida: Librairie Au Service de la Culture. p. 106. ISBN 0-9638599-0-0.

External links[edit]