La Gonâve Arrondissement

Native name: Île de la Gonâve
Gonâve Island
Gonâve Island (Haiti)
Location Gulf of Gonâve

18°50′N 73°05′W / 18.833°N 73.083°W / 18.833; -73.083Coordinates: 18°50′N 73°05′W / 18.833°N 73.083°W / 18.833; -73.083

Area 743 km2 (286.9 sq mi)
Highest elevation 778 m (2,552 ft)
Highest point Morne La Pierre
Department Ouest Department
Largest city Anse-à-Galets (pop. 52,662)
Population 75,548 (as of 2003 Census)
Density 134.59 /km2 (348.59 /sq mi)

Gonâve Island (French: Île de la Gonâve) is an island of Haiti located to the west-northwest of Port-au-Prince in the Gulf of Gonâve. It is the largest of the Hispaniolan satellite islands, situated off the mainland. The island is an arrondissement (La Gonâve Arrondissement) in the Ouest Department and includes the communes of Anse-à-Galets and Pointe-à-Raquette.


Made up of mostly limestone, the reef-fringed island of Gonâve is 60 km (37 mi) long and 15 km (9.3 mi) wide and covers an area of 743 km2 (287 sq mi). The island is mostly barren and hilly with the highest point reaching 778 meters (2,552 ft). The island gets between 800 mm to 1600 mm of rain a year, higher elevations representing the latter figure. Issues of overgrazing and water resource over-exploitation affect the island's approximately 80,000 residents (the 2003 Census showed 75,548 inhabitants). The island was once used as a base for pirates.[1]

Administrative Division

La Gonave arrondisment is divided into two communes: Anse-à-Galets and Pointe-à-Raquette.


1st Palma

2nd Petite Source

3rd Grande Source

4th Grand Lagon

5th Picmy

6th Petite Anse


1st La Source

2nd Grand Vide

3rd Trou Louis

4th Pointe-à-Raquette

5th Gros Mangle

Water scarcity

In 2005, following a particularly drastic drought, the Mayor of Anse-à-Galets formed the Water Platform, composed of service groups working on the island. Current participants include the Mayors of Anse-à-Galets and Pointes a Racquette, the Deputy, Justice of the Peace, World Vision, Concern WorldWide, Sevis Kretyen, Haiti Outreach and many others. The Water Platform acts as a focal point for activities on the island, providing a coordination point for the multitude of groups working on La Gonâve.

Assistance efforts

The members of the Water Platform have been working to address the water needs of the island by capping springs, building rainwater catchment cisterns, building water systems and drilling wells. Dozens of rainwater catchment cisterns and wells have been drilled on the island as an effort to bring water relief to the residents of the island.

2002 - 2004 Guts Church Funded construction of a school providing first through sixth grade education and construction of a medical clinic providing free medical, dental and vision services for Haitians

As of 2007, there were two non-profit groups actively drilling water wells on the island: Haiti Outreach, which has financed and drilled water wells in 25 communities; and Tougher Than Hell Motorcycle Rally, organized by Guts Church, has sponsored 10 water wells drilled on the island.

In 2010 Coordinated relief efforts after the January 12th earthquake. $250,000 was raised for this relief project. Medical supplies, building supplies, 150 tons of rice and beans and a backhoe were purchased. Aid was shipped to La Gonâve via a leased vessel and delivered directly to La Gonâve in early March 2010. The aid shipment fed 50,000 people for one month.

As of 2011 there are over 70 water wells fully functional on the island

The drilling of more wells on the island has been planned for the near future.[2]


In 1925, U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant Faustin E. Wirkus (1897-1948) was proclaimed by the residents of the island as King Faustin II. His "reign" lasted until 1929, when he returned to the United States.[3]

In the mid-1980s, British singer Cliff Richard recorded a song "La Gonave" for relief aid for the people of the island.

The docks of the island were damaged by the 2010 Haiti earthquake of 12 January 2010. In the wake of the damage, supplies have been airlifted in to the 1,800-foot dirt strip.[4]

"Fierté gonavienne" Disaster

On September 8th 1997, a ferry from La Gonave to the Haitian mainland sank with hundreds of passengers aboard. It is considered the worst disaster in Haitian maritime history since the "Neptune" accident in 1993.


Roulado de La Gonave is the island most famous football club. Very loved by gonavians living outside La Gonave, the Club has won the Ligue Haïtienne on 2 Occasions: 2002 and 2003. The club plays at the Parc Savil Dessaint, a modern stadium with a capacity for 5000 people. Notable players include James Marcelin, Johnny Descolines, Jean Rebert Menelas.

Knowing the potential of the island for tourism development, investors created the La Gonâve Economic Development Group, in order to convert the island into a "paradise in the Caribbean". The project, which would cost $48 billion, has been subject to discussions among Haitians, but nothing concrete has been done to make it reality.


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