The Spanish Empire initially claimed the whole island. But due to the inability of Spain to actually enforce that claim, the Western third soon became a haven of piracy and later part of the French Empire, becoming one of the most lucrative and most brutal slavery-based cash-crop colonies as "Saint Domingue". The eastern two thirds remained Spanish and relatively unimportant.
The Haitian Revolution began in 1791 and ended with France recognizing the new state of Haiti in 1804. Haiti was the former French part; they laid claim to the Spanish parts of the island and briefly conquered them but lost and ultimately gave up all claims to it during the 19th century.
Today the island encompasses two separate countries:
- Dominican Republic – Occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island.
- Haiti – Occupies the western third of the island.