Saint-Rafael Gains Sovereignty from Dominican Republic

Saint-Rafael, a cityship within the Saint-Rafaël Arrondissement, is part of Nord Department. Established in 1761 by Viscount José Meléndez of San Rafaël de la Angostura, the town was originally named after his city, but later shortened to Saint-Raphaël. By 1783, about 1,000 residents populated Saint-Rafaël.


Until 1929, the Dominican Republic (DR) still laid claim to Saint-Rafaël. A treaty signed that year and revised in 1936 sought to reclaim Saint-Rafaël as the domain of its majority population. The revision indicated that residents, who comprised the dominant part of the population in a region, be granted sovereignty. As a result, the DR had to cede considerable land acreage.

Agriculture is a mainstay in Saint-Rafaël. Of particular note is the method farmers use to create one of the ingredients used in Grand Marnier and Cointreau liqueurs. Farm workers pick unripe oranges, cut them open, and discard the pulp, saving the rind. They then sun-dry the rind for export to France. Distillery workers in France steep the rinds, distill the juice, and add it to recipes to create the liqueurs.

Saint-Rafaël is a city of caves, and tourist guides often take visitors spelunking. The town life of Saint-Rafaël's residents has inspired artists' renderings of it, many of their paintings shown in Cap Haitien art schools.

Needless to say, Saint-Rafaël is a Christian community, with its share of Voodoo practitioners.

Although Saint-Rafaël has no airport, plans to upgrade its National Highway No. 3 to connect it to Port-au-Prince and its airport, Port-au-Prince International, are in the works.

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Read more: Dominican Republic, town, North Department, Cave, Orange, Saint-Rafael, 1761, Viscount Jos, Grand Marnier, Cointreau liqueurs, City

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