a republic in the greater antilles in the west indies. Its capital is port-au-prince. With the dominican republic it forms the island of hispaniola - haiti occupying the western third and the dominican republic, the eastern two thirds. Haiti belonged to france from 1697 until its rule was challenged by slave insurrections from 1791. It became a republic in 1820. It was virtually an american protectorate from 1915 to 1934. It adopted its present constitution in 1964 and amended it in 1971. The name may represent either of two caribbean words, haiti, mountain land, or jhaiti, nest.