Columbus on Dec. 6, 1492 landed in Haiti, Haiti's native Arawaks fell victim to Spanish rule. In 1697 Haiti became the French colony of Saint-Dominique, which became a leading sugarcane producer dependent on slaves. Napoléon Bonaparte suppressed the independence movement, but it eventually triumphed in 1804 under Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who gave the new nation the Arawak name Haiti. It was the world's first independent black republic.It is about the size of Maryland, Haiti is two-thirds mountainous, with the rest of the country marked by great valleys, extensive plateaus, and small plains. It is also one of the poorest country's in the world. Although Haiti averages approximately 360 people in 940 per sq mi., its population is concentrated most heavily in urban areas, coastal plains, and valleys. Haiti's population was about 9.8 million according to UN 2008 estimates, with half of the population being under 20 years.