Jean Rabel in the North West department of Haiti

Christopher Columbus landed in a section of Haiti, populated by the Tainos, called Marien. Today, that mountainous district 150 miles to the north of Haiti's capital is called Jean Rabel. Part of Haiti's North West Department, the county of Jean Rabel can be found in the Mole Saint Nicolas district and contains many subdivisions.


The locale offers the delight of virgin territory to the visitor, having been largely unvisited by foreigners as no direct flight can take you to the remote, but aesthetically pleasing place. Even the number of inhabitants (shakily established at around 125,000 by information from an under-informed census), don't offer much by way of number, but some think this an advantage. Aside from the area remaining relatively unindustrialized, and so still full of Haitian flora and fauna, the relative remoteness has made the inhabitants extremely self-sufficient.

The locals eke out their subsistence by farming, a task that is sometimes more challenging because of the lack of machinery and irrigation. Though Jean Rabel boasts a river, a drought threatens their ability to farm, and they depend on rainwater to harvest their olives, plantains, manyok (yucca), mangos, yam, beans, corn and sweet potato crops.

A rather large majority of the population are voodoo practitioners, a phenomenon some blame on the lack of leadership and knowledge in the area. In some areas, less than half of the children go to school, and the town, because of its considerable lack of resources and industrializing, suffers from a brain drain of any educated residents.

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