Hispaniola hĭs˝pănyō´lə [key], Span. Españolaĕspänyō´lä [key], second largest island of the West Indies, 29,530 sq mi (76,483 sq km), between Cuba and Puerto Rico. Haiti occupies the western third of the island and the Dominican Republic the remainder. Visited by Columbus in 1492, the island was called Española. The later French colony was called Saint-Domingue, after Santo Domingo, the Spanish colony in the eastern part of the island. The terrain, dominated by the Cordillera Central, is high and rugged; Pico Duarte (10,417 ft/3,175 m high) is the tallest peak. Extending far westward, like the claws of a crab, two mountain ranges form the scenic Gulf of Gonâve. The island's climate is subtropical, and agriculture (coffee, cocoa, sugarcane, and tobacco) flourishes in the abundant rainfall. In some areas of the island (in Haiti especially), increased population has caused significant deforestation for cultivation. Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, are the largest cities.
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