Artibonite (Haitian Creole: Latibonit) is one of the ten departments of Haiti. With an area of 4,887 km2 it is Haiti’s largest department. Artibonite has a population of 1,727,524 in 2015. The region is the country’s main rice-growing area. The main cities are Gonaïves (the capital) and Saint-Marc. In February 2004 an insurgency tried unsuccessfully to declare Artibonite’s independence.
The department has been in a state of an economic decline since insurgencies and coups have reduced the nation’s stability. Since the election of President René Garcia Préval, the production of rice and other crops has been on an increase.
Deschapelles, in the Artibonite Valley, is the location of the Hôpital Albert Schweitzer. The name L’Artibonite is derived from the Artibonite River.
The Artibonite River
The Artibonite River is a 320 km long river in Haiti. It is the longest as well as the most important river in Haiti and the longest on the island of Hispaniola. Forming part of the international border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the river’s sources are in the Cordillera Central in the Dominican Republic, however most of its length lies in Haiti. The river empties into the Gulf of Gonâve.
As namesake for the surrounding Artibonite Valley and the Artibonite department in Haiti. The river is used for irrigation and the Peligre Hydroelectric Dam situated on it produces the country’s supply of hydroelectricity. In October 2010, following a fatal cholera outbreak (the first in generations) in the Haitian headwaters of the river, locals were alerted that drinking untreated water from this river may spread the disease.
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