Dessalines, Haiti

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Dessalines, Haiti

Region: Artibonite Department

Geographic Coordinates: 19.283300, -72.500000
Population: 127529
Language: Creole

Dessalines is a town in Haiti’s Artibonite department, Named after Jean-Jacques Dessalines, One of the country’s founding fathers. The town has a rich cultural heritage with many landmarks and attractions. The Monument de la Victoire is one of the most notable landmarks in Dessalines. It commemorates Haiti’s victory over French colonial forces during the Battle of Vertières in 1803. The monument features a statue of Jean-Jacques Dessalines atop a horse, Surrounded by other heroic figures from Haitian history. Fort des Oliviers is another important historical site in Dessalines.

It was built by French colonizers to defend against attacks from pirates but was later taken over by Haitian revolutionaries during their fight for independence. Visitors can explore its ruins and learn about its fascinating past. Dessalines also has several museums dedicated to preserving Haitian culture and history. The Musée de la Révolution highlights key events leading up to Haiti’s independence, While the Musée d’Art Haïtien showcases traditional artwork from local artists. Bassin Zim waterfall is popular with tourists who enjoy hiking through lush forests before taking a refreshing dip in its crystal-clear waters.

Local cuisine includes griot (fried pork), Diri kole ak pwa (rice with beans), Akasan (cornmeal porridge) and pikliz (spicy pickled vegetables). Overall, Whether you’re interested in history or simply looking for an escape into nature, Dessalines is a must-visit destination in Haiti with its rich cultural heritage, Stunning natural beauty and delicious cuisine making it an unforgettable place to explore.

Primary Industries

  • Dessalines is a small town located in Haiti
  • Primary sources of income:
    • Agriculture, including coffee, sugarcane, and bananas
    • Thriving small-scale commerce sector that includes street vendors and local markets
    • Handicraft industry is well-established with pottery and woodcarving being popular trades
    • Tourism is another significant contributor to the town’s economy due to its historical significance as the birthplace of Jean-Jacques Dessalines – one of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution
  • Local businesses provide essential services such as:
    • Transportation
    • Healthcare
    • Education
    • Construction
  • Economic development remains limited due to various factors such as:
    • Poverty levels among residents
    • Political instability
    • Natural disasters like hurricanes that have caused significant damage to infrastructure
  • Overall, there are many industries present within this small town that contribute positively towards economic growth despite external challenges faced by residents.

  • Noteable History

    1. The Haitian Revolution: Dessalines played a crucial role in the Haitian Revolution, which began in 1791 as a slave rebellion against French colonial rule.
    2. Declaration of Independence: On January 1, 1804, Dessalines declared Haiti’s independence from France, making it the world’s first independent black republic.
    3. Massacre at Port-au-Prince: In March 1804, after taking control of Port-au-Prince from French forces, Dessalines ordered the execution of all remaining white inhabitants in the city.
    4. Assassination: Jean-Jacques Dessalines was assassinated on October 17th, 1806 by his own troops who were unhappy with his leadership.
    5. National Hero: Despite his controversial legacy as both a liberator and dictator during his time as leader of Haiti, Jean-Jacques Dessalines is still considered a national hero by many Haitians today.
    6. City named after him: The city formerly known as Marchand is now called Dessalines to honor Jean-Jacques’ contributions to Haitian independence and history.
    7. Statue erected in his honor: A statue honoring Jean-Jacques stands prominently at Place d’Armes near the National Palace in Port-au-Prince as an enduring symbol of his legacy for future generations to remember him by.

    Museums and Things To See

    1. Musée de la Révolution: This museum is dedicated to the Haitian Revolution and the life of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who was a key figure in the country’s fight for independence.
    2. Place d’Armes: This historic square is located in the center of Dessalines and features a monument honoring Jean-Jacques Dessalines.
    3. Eglise Saint-Charles Borromée: This beautiful church was built in 1890 and is one of the oldest buildings in Dessalines.
    4. Centre d’Art de La Gonâve: This art center features works by local artists as well as exhibitions from international artists.
    5. Fort-Dimanche Memorial Museum: Located just outside of Dessalines, this museum honors those who were imprisoned and killed at Fort-Dimanche during Haiti’s dictatorship era.
    6. Marché en Fer (Iron Market): This bustling market is a great place to shop for local crafts, souvenirs, and fresh produce.
    7. Bassin Zim Waterfall: Located about an hour from Dessalines, this stunning waterfall is a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers.
    8. Parc National La Visite: Just south of Dessalines lies this national park which offers hiking trails through lush forests and scenic views over Haiti’s countryside.


    • Griot – Fried pork shoulder served with rice and beans.
    • Tassot – Fried goat meat served with plantains.
    • Soup Joumou – Pumpkin soup traditionally served on New Year’s Day.
    • Akra – Fritters made from grated malanga (taro root).
    • Rice and beans – A staple dish in Haitian cuisine.

    Some popular restaurants in Dessalines include:

    • Resto-Bar Le Saint Christophe.
    • Restaurant La Belle Etoile.
    • Restaurant Chez Bébé.
    • Restaurant Le Jardin de la Colline.
    • Café des Amis.

    • Parks and Recreation

      1. Parc National La Visite: This park offers hiking trails, bird watching, and camping opportunities.
      2. Parc National Historique de la Citadelle Laferrière: This historic fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers guided tours.
      3. Plage Côte des Arcadins: This beach is popular for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports such as jet skiing.
      4. Kayaking on the Artibonite River: Visitors can rent kayaks to explore the scenic river that runs through Dessalines.
      5. Football (soccer) matches at Stade Sylvio Cator: The local stadium hosts football matches throughout the year.
      6. Cycling tours of the countryside: Visitors can rent bicycles or join a tour group to explore the rural areas surrounding Dessalines.
      7. Cultural events at Place d’Armes de Dessalines: The town square hosts cultural events such as music festivals and art exhibitions throughout the year.


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