L'Ile de la Tortue or Tortuga Island in Haiti

To speak of Tortuga in Haiti, is to conjure up the swashbuckling remnants of the piratical past of the Caribbean, as its representation in literature and the modern entertainment media casts it, almost always, in that quixotically classic light. But Tortuga is more than just pirate stories, more than just a little island off the north coast of Haiti.


Named by Columbus, who, upon happening on the isle in 1492, forming out of the mist of the morning, likened its shape to that of a turtle, it was initially settled by colonists from Spain, but, first made a colony of Santo Domingo by the French. More people would eventually come, as, in the first quarter of the 1600's, additional French settlers, along with some English ones, would travel there. These new residents would, however, face an attack four years later by Don Fadrique de Toledo, who would see to their expulsion before fortifying the island.

It wasn't until the 17th and 18th centuries that the island became synonymous with pirates. French, English and a smaller concentration of Dutch pirates would use Tortuga as their operations base, and the island quickly got the reputation for ill-repute often associated with locales considered the pirate capital of their regions.

Today, Tortuga has left its buccaneer past behind and has become synonymous with mountains, beaches and other natural attractions that make it a great tourist destination. With a population of just over 35,000 people, recorded in 2009, the tiny island is the perfect getaway for those seeking a Caribbean beach vacation, with just the right amount of historical content and swashbuckling adventure.

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Read more: Christopher Columbus, Island, Tortuga, Ile-de-la-Tortue, Pirate, Haiti

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