Gonaïves (Gonayiv in Kréyòl) is a city in northern Haiti, the capital of the Artibonite Department. It has a population of about 104,825 people (2003 census). The city's name derives from the original Amerindian name of Gonaibo. It is also known as Haïti's "independence city". The Bay of Gonaïves is named after the town.
The Battle of Ravine-à-Couleuvres
Gonaïves is also known as Haiti's City of Independence because it was there that Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti, the former Saint-Domingue, independent from France on January 1, 1804 by reading the Act of Independence, drafted by Boisrond Tonnerre, on the Place d'Armes of the town.
Marie-Claire Heureuse Félicité, the wife of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, died here in August 1858.
In the early 2000s, Gonaïves was the scene of substantial rioting and violence primarily motivated by opposition to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and on February 5, 2004, a group calling itself the Revolutionary Artibonite Resistance Front seized control of the city, starting the 2004 Haïtian rebellion. But in recent years the city has seen a complete return to calmness.
In September 2004, Hurricane Jeanne caused major flooding and mudslides in the city. 3,006 people were confirmed dead in Haïti, and the death toll in Gonaïves was believed to have topped 2,000. Every building in the city was damaged by the storm and 250,000 people were left homeless.
Four years later, the city was again devastated by another storm, Hurricane Hanna, which killed 529 people, mostly in flooded sections of Gonaïves, where the destruction was described as "catastrophic" and 495 bodies were discovered as of late on September 5. Haitian authorities said the tally could grow once officials are able to make their way through Gonaïves. "The assessment is only partial, because it is impossible to enter the city for the moment", Gonaïves Mayor Stephen Moise said. At least 48,000 people from the Gonaïves areas were forced into shelters. Some people slept on the roofs of their houses to protect them from possible looters. The catastrophe left many homeless begging for food and clothes. Others left for the mountains hoping to wait out the next storms on the horizon.
Département de l'Artibonite
Le département de l'Artibonite est divisé en 5 Arrondissements et 15 Communes :