Jacmel, (Haitian Creole: Jakmèl; Spanish: Yáquimo) is a commune in southern Haiti founded by the Spanish in 1504 and repopulated by the French in 1698. It is the capital of the department of Sud-Est and has an estimated population of 40,000, while the commune of Jacmel had a population of 137,966 at the 2003 Census. The town’s name is derived from its indigenous Taíno name of Yaquimel. In 1925, Jacmel was dubbed as the “City of Light,” becoming the first in the Caribbean to have electricity.
The city has well-preserved historical French colonial architecture that dates back from the early nineteenth century and has little changed. The town has been tentatively accepted as a World Heritage site and UNESCO reports that it has sustained damage in the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
- René Depestre, a famous Haitian poet and essayist who fled from the Duvalier dictatorship. He was born in Jacmel. The city is the setting for much of his fictional work.
- Préfète Duffaut – painter
- Michaëlle Jean, Secretary-General of La Francophonie and former Governor General of Canada, was born in Port-au-Prince to a Jacmel family.
- Magloire Ambroise, hero of the struggle for independence
- Jørgen Leth, Danish filmmaker, writer and former Danish honorary consul in Haiti.
The Port of Jacmel (HTJAK) is a small, relatively shallow port and is unable to harbour large ships. There is also a pleasurecraft dock as part of the port, which survived the quake.It is run by the Autorité Portuaire Nationale.
Also located in Jacmel is a small airstrip (MTJA)capable of handling small to medium-sized planes. The airstrip is unable to handle large aircraft.
Jacmel has two hospitals, Hôpital Saint-Michel and the “Complexe Médico Chirurgical Rose Marie Paul” recently founded by the philanthropist Dr. Leon Paul, and becomes the highest equipped surgery center in the city, with highly qualified international and national professionals. The “Hôpital Saint-Michel” which locals had nicknamed “the morgue” prior to the earthquake. The hospital is the largest hospital or health centre in the region. It has a staff of six doctors and ten nurses. The quake half-collapsed the hospital, including the maternity ward; however, the hospital continues to operate.The radiology department was the only undamaged portion of the hospital.
Jacmel had a civil court building, which was destroyed in the 2010 earthquake.The town’s main square is Place Toussaint Louverture, named after the Haitian revolutionary leader.