Ile à Vache is a small island of about 20 square miles located on the southwest coast of Haiti. Caribbean, Greater Antilles . Latitude: 18°5 N - longitude: 73°3 O.
The closest city on the mainland is Les Cays, situated at about 6.5 miles from the island and approximately one hour by powerboat.
Time Zone: GMT -5. Temperature: ranges from 77 ° F in November and 86 º F in August. Climate: tropical, exposed to storms, hurricanes and annual floods and droughts.
Landscape: Rolling hills, small plateaus, and marshy lands. Vegetation: Subtropical: mangroves, mango trees, palm trees, bushes etc.
When the Spaniards arrived on the island of Hispaniola, the area was inhabited by Tanio Indians who become extinct by the 17th century. The island's French given name (Cow Island) is said to have originated from the great number of abandoned cattle left by the Spaniards.
The last migration to Ile-à-Vache took place in 1863 when more than 1500 African Americans from the US and Canada settled on the island.
This migration was promoted by Bernard Cock who was interested in creating a prosperous African American colony on the island. The failed project was supported by US President Lincoln and Haitian President Geffrard
The populationof Ile-à-Vache is made up mainly of African descendants brought to the island by the Spaniards and French between the 15th and 19th centuries. Subsequently African American immigrants who voluntarily settled on the island.
The culture on Ile-à-Vache can best be described as a cross between Western and African civilizations. Their religious beliefs are a mixture of Christian and Voudou traditions.
The islandsuffers immensely from deforestation due to increasing agriculture activity and the cutting down of rees for fuel purposes. The erosion contributes to the destruction of the coral reefs off the island.
The island has no electrical power and no drinking water. All traffic is done by foot or on mule. In spite of all this, the island of turquoise blue seas and white sandy beaches offers a beautiful natural environment.
Quick facts:Languages: Creole and French. Population: Approximately 16,000 Currency: Gourde = 100 centimes. Life Expectancy: 62.41 years (2009); 40% of the population is under 15 years of age. Childhood Mortality Rate: 5.4% (2011). Fertility Rate: 3.07 children born per woman (2011). Literacy: 52.9% (2003). Inflation: 4,7% (2010). Religions: Voudou and traditional Christian, Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, Adventist, etc. Standard of Living: 80% of the population lives in absolute poverty. The economic activity is one of basic survival consisting of fishing, corn cultivation and selling of fruits and coal. Basic Diet: rice, corn, millet, wheat, beans, manioc, sweet potatoes, tubers, striped Tunny (a fish), kasava and plantains.