by Claire McKenna

The United States of America is one united country that has a territory of about 3.806 million miles. All citizens are under a single government and follow the same laws. Now imagine living on an island that is half the size of Ohio, but that island is divided into two different countries. This is what it is like living in the Dominican Republic or Haiti. These two countries, although only 3.806 million miles combined, have history that differ completely. It is through their history that people are able to see how these two countries have grown to be opposites.


The two parts of the island actually started off in the exact same way – both conquered by the Spanish. The Spaniards left a huge mark on their culture. However, at the same time Haitians were struggling with deforestation which was the primary source of energy for that part of the island. Haiti was at an all time low point and their resources were running low. This lead to a slave rebellion in 1791. Haiti was deemed its own country in 1804. Once it became its own country the problems that they had before the war did not go away. The country became divided within the many different ethic groups. The natural barriers in Haiti create problems for trying to live as a unified country. The political system especially has suffered. The Haitian political system is currently a multi-party presidential system, but throughout the last few decades they have gone through a number of political systems that have created corruption. Haiti also does not have a stable source of revenue that provides structure for the economy.


Dominican Republic was also founded by the Spanish. However, the Dominican Republic did not gain independence for much more time. The Dominican Republic officially became its own country in 1844. Due to the delayed independence the Dominican Republic was a much more stable country than its neighbor, Haiti. The transition to independence was much smoother because the country was not founded from a revolution. Also the Dominicans immediately set up a democracy which has provided a stable government. They were able to open up for tourists, which also gave a steady source of revenue. It was because of these things that the Dominicans began to see themselves as superior to the Haitians. Even during their civil war in 1965, they still considered Haitians to be below them. In present times, Haiti and the Dominican are still completely separated. The Dominican Republic is a place that draws in millions of tourists each year and has improved on poverty. It is considered to be a democracy, and the government has worked to improve literacy rates. Now 90% of all Dominicans can read and write. The living conditions for citizens are still much better than those that live in Haiti.


Haiti and The Dominican Republic do not consider themselves close allies as countries, but there is one time every year that the Haiti and the Dominican Republic come together to commemorate a tragic time for both countries. During the reign of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina in the Dominican, a massacre occurred. This massacre killed about 18,000 Haitians and any Dominicans that tried to help them. Despite the differences in both countries on October 3rd they come together to form a border of lights. Along the borders of both countries they light candles in both Haiti and the Dominican.