Q:  Why do many Haitians, in Haiti and all over the world, celebrate on May 18?

A:  In Haiti,  May 18 is Flag Day, a major national holiday celebrated with great fanfare on the grounds of the national palace.

Q:  What is the meaning of the name "Haiti"?

A:  It's a Taino word meaning high ground. And it really is the most mountainous country in the Caribbean.

Q:  Why was Haiti was called "the Pearl of the Caribbean"?

A:  It was France's richest colonial possession in the so-called New World.

Q:  Born a slave in Haiti in 1743, he became a soldier, statesman and liberator of Haiti. Who was he?

A:  Toussaint L'Ouverture. He expelled the English and the Spaniards from Haiti and under his able administration Haiti prospered. When he challenged the authority of France, however, Napoleon sent out a powerful force against him. Toussaint died a prisoner in France.

Q:  How was Toussaint L'Ouverture captured by the French?

A:  France not wanting to loose its prized colony of Haiti sent an armada of 70 warships and 25,000 men to put down the rebellion led by Toussaint. Toussaint was overwhelmed by this massive show of force and agreed to a truce. When he went to discuss peace with the French commander, General Leclerc, he was put in chains and transported to France.

Q:  Who continued the struggle for independence after Toussaint L'Ouverture?

A:  Two Haitian generals, Jean-Jacques Dessalines and Alexandre Petion eventually defeated the French army. An armistice was signed on November 18, 1803 and all the French troops left Haiti.

Q:  What one family held dictatorial power over Haiti from 1957 to 1986?

A:  The Duvaliers. Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier became president-for-life. His son, Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) succeeded him in 1971.

Q:  What is the significance of the Phrygian cap in Haiti's coat of arms?

A:  It is a symbol of liberty, and was in fact called the liberty cap. This conical cap with no brim and with top turned forward was given to freed slaves in Roman times. Featured in the bishop's mitre and the Rosicrucians' hat, it was worn in the 18th century by French revolutionaries. In the US Seal Of The Department Of The Army, it is shown at the top of a swordpoint. Phrygia was an ancient country in what is now Turkey.

Q:  Who first proclaimed himself emperor of an independent Haiti?

A:  Dessalines. He succeeded Toussaint L'Ouverture.

Q:  In December, 1990 a former Catholic priest was elected President of Haiti by a landslide. Who was he?

A:  Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He gained a huge following after denouncing corruption in the government, the church and the army.

Q:  What voodoo ceremonies involve human sacrifice?

A:  There is no evidence that any voodoo ceremonies involve human sacrifice. Animals (chicken, goats etc.) may be killed ceremonially, and are often cooked and eaten.

Q:  When Haiti became a French possession in 1697 what name was it given?

A:  Saint Domingue

Q:  What European leader deployed the army that was intended to subdue the people of  Saint Domingue (Haitians) but was defeated by them in 1804?

A:  Napoleon Bonaparte. After they defeated the French army, the Haitians established independence from France and renamed the country Haiti.

Q:  Who wrote the book, "The Black Jacobins?"

A:  C.L.R. James. It tells the story of the Haitian slave revolt and the events leading up to it.