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Originally known as a hunting ground for the Taino and Carib peoples, the island of Hispaniola was first colonized by Christopher Columbus in 1492, in the name of Spain. In 1501, the colony began importing African slaves.
In 1685 French colonization was officially recognized by King Louis XIV, renaming their colony "Saint-Domingue". And in 1697, under the treaty of Ryswick, Spain was forced to hand over their rights to the island to France.
A slave-based society was constructed around the production of sugarcane to satisfy European demands for sugar. The island was nicknamed "The Pearl of Antilles". It became the wealthiest colony in the West Indies.
Note: Yes. Because these people didn't already have enough problems. Let's throw the weather at them too. - RL