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Native name: Île de la Gonâve
Satellite view of Gonâve
Gonâve Island is located in Haiti
Gonâve Island
Gonâve Island (Haiti)
LocationGulf of Gonâve
Coordinates18°50′N 73°05′W / 18.833°N 73.083°W / 18.833; -73.083
Area743 km2 (286.9 sq mi)
Highest elevation778 m (2,552 ft)
Highest pointMorne La Pierre
DepartmentOuest Department
Largest cityAnse-à-Galets (pop. 52,662)
Population75,548 (as of 2003 Census)
Density134.59 /km2 (348.59 /sq mi)

Gonâve Island (French: [Île de la Gonâve] error: {{lang}}: text has italic markup (help)) 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 miles) long and 15 km (9 miles) wide and covers an area of 743 km² (287 sq. miles). The island is mostly barren and hilly with the highest point reaching 778 meters (2,552 ft). The island gets anywhere from 800 mm to 1600 mm of rain a year, higher areas 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]

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, the Matenwa Learning Center, the Alleghany Weslyen Church, the Methodist Church, 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 poor residents of the island.

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 Guts Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Tougher Than Hell Motorcycle Rally, organized by Guts Church, has sponsored 10 water wells drilled on the island.

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


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.[2]

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.[3]


  1. National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  2. Lua error in ...ribunto/includes/engines/LuaCommon/lualib/mwInit.lua at line 17: bad argument #1 to 'old_pairs' (table expected, got nil).
  3. The Bahamas Weekly, "Bahamas Habitat completes 150th Haiti relief flight",, 4 February 2010 (accessed 4 February 2010)

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

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