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Coordinates: 18°04′N 73°45′W / 18.067°N 73.750°W / 18.067; -73.750

Île à Vache
Île à Vache and the coast of southwestern Haiti
Île à Vache is located in Haiti
Île à Vache
Île à Vache (Haiti)
Coordinates18°04′N 73°45′W / 18.067°N 73.750°W / 18.067; -73.750
Area20 sq mi (50 km2)
Length8 mi (13 km)
Width2 mi (3 km)
Highest elevation150 m (490 ft)
ArrondissementLes Cayes
Density288.46 /km2 (747.11 /sq mi)

Île à Vache (French, also expressed Île-à-Vaches, former Spanish name Isla Vaca, both translated as Cow Island) is a small island lying off the south-west peninsula of Haiti near the town of Les Cayes. Administratively it is part of the Sud Department. It is about 8 miles (13 km) long, 2 miles (3.2 km) wide, with an area of 20 square miles (52 km2). The western end of the island is up to 150 metres (490 ft) high and rolling with several small swamps in the valleys; while the eastern section is swampy, and has a lagoon with one of the largest mangrove forests in Haiti. [1] It is one of the most popular tourist sites in Haiti and it has some of the best island scenery in the Caribbean. The population of the island is somewhere between 10,000-15,000 inhabitants. There are two tourist resorts on the island, the Port Morgan and Abaka Bay.


Île à Vache was originally claimed by the Spanish Empire as part of Hispaniola, the first landing site of Christopher Columbus in 1492, and for the next two centuries it was known by its Spanish name, Isla Vaca.

Port Morgan is named for the pirate captain Henry Morgan (c.1635–1688) for whom the little island served as a frequent base of operations.[2] Morgan planned and staged many of his largest raids from Isla Vaca and in 1676 he narrowly survived a costly shipwreck on its shore: Morgan's ship Jamaica Merchant sank with a full complement of cannon which the pirate had been bringing to bolster his presence at Port Royal.[3]

In 1697 the island of Hispaniola was formally divided between Spain and France in the Treaty of Ryswick which ended the Nine Years War. France assumed control of the western half of the island, Haiti, and Isla Vaca took on its current name, Île à Vache.

In 1863, during the American Civil War, the island's owner Bernard Kock offered to resettle freed black slaves from the United States. Despite support from President Abraham Lincoln, funding never materialized, and the first attempt to set up the colony failed in a matter of months.[4][5]


  1. T. Brooks & L.M. Davalos (2001). "The Birds of Île-à-Vache, Haiti" (PDF). Caribbean Journal of Science. Retrieved 2006-08-30. Check date values in: |date= (help)[dead link]
  2. Cordingly, David (1996). Under the Black Flag: The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates. NY, USA: Random House. pp. 48, 50. ISBN 978-0-8129-7722-6.
  3. Cordingly. p.55.

External links

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