Christopher Columbus Arrives at, and Names, Island of Hispaniola
The recorded history of Haiti began on December 5, 1492 when the European navigator Christopher Columbus happened upon a large island in the region of the western Atlantic Ocean that later came to be known as the Caribbean Sea.
It was inhabited by the Taíno, an Arawakan people, who variously called their island Ayiti, Bohio, or Kiskeya. Columbus promptly claimed the island for the Spanish Crown, and renamed it La Isla Española ("the Spanish Island"), or Hispañola (later Anglicized as Hispaniola).
The island of Hispaniola (La Isla Española), which today is occupied by the nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, was one of several landfalls Christopher Columbus made during his first voyage to the New World in 1492. Columbus established a makeshift settlement on the north coast, which he dubbed Navidad (Christmas), after his flagship, the Santa María, struck a coral reef and foundered near the site of present-day Cap Haïtien.