Haiti was originally settled by Taino Amerindians. The name Haiti means “Mountainous Land” in the Taino language. After Columbus discovered the island Hispaniola in 1492, Spanish settlers nearly annihilated the Taino tribes within twenty-five years. Spain assigned the mountainous western two-thirds of the island to France, thus creating the state of Haiti.
Click here to learn more about the Taino Amerindians and their life in the Smithsonian Magazine.