1949 Port-au-Prince
Haitian president Dumarsais Estimé at the Expo
BIE-classUniversal exposition
CategorySecond category General Exposition
NameL'Exposition Internationale de port au Prince 1949
Motto200 years Port au Prince
Area30 hectares (74 acres)
Organized byDumarsais Estimé
VenueGonave Bay
BiddingOctober 12, 1948 (1948-10-12)
AwardedDecember 5, 1948 (1948-12-05)
OpeningDecember 1, 1949 (1949-12-01)
ClosureJune 8, 1950 (1950-06-08)
Universal expositions
Previous1939 New York World's Fair in New York City
NextExpo 58 in Brussels
Specialised Expositions
PreviousInternational Exhibition on Urbanism and Housing (1947) in Paris
NextThe International Textile Exhibition in Lille
SpecializedUniversal Sport Exhibition (1949) in Stockholm and The International Exhibition of Rural Habitat in Lyon

The Exposition internationale du bicentenaire de Port-au-Prince was a world's fair held in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1949 to mark the 200th anniversary of the city's founding.


President Dumarsais Estimé argued in 1948 for an exposition to demonstrate Haitian culture to other countries and encourage tourism and committed $1 million (then almost three-quarters of Haiti's annual budget) to the project.[1]

The fair opened on ground at the Gonave Bay which had been cleared of houses and landscaped with gardens, parks and tall coconut and palm trees[1]


There were two opening ceremonies: the first on December 8, 1949 and the second on February 12, 1950.[2]

During the first ceremony, a telegram from US president Harry S. Truman to Haitian president Dumarsais Estimé was read out, a parade of US soldiers and marines and a US Air Force squadron flew overhead, and the national exhibits and amusement area opened.

During the second ceremony, the international as well as the official pavilions were opened. Displays were on show from Argentina, Cuba, France, Guatemala, Italy, Mexico and Venezuela,[2] with Vatican City providing a chapel.

Art and music

An art competition was held, with Gesner Abelard winning a bronze prize, and Jacques-Enguerrand Gourgue a gold.[3]

Marian Anderson, Alberto Beltran, Frantz Casseus, Celia Cruz, Miles Davis, Issa El Saeih, Dizzy Gillespie, Ernst Lamy, Ti Ro Ro, La Scala singers, members of the Grand National Opera New York, Daniel Santos,[4] Don Shirley[5] and Bebo Valdes[4] all performed during the exposition.


Among the countries invited and participating in this Universal Exhibition of 1949:


France, which supported this project with its Minister of Foreign Affairs Robert Schumann,[6] Belgium, Spain, Italy, San Marino, and Vatican City, the latter for which a chapel was built.


Lebanon, Syria and Palestine


Canada, United States, Venezuela, Mexico, Argentina, Guatemala, Chile, Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica

International organisations

United Nations and Organization of American States.


Following the close of the exposition many of the pavilions were used for Haitian Governmental Buildings. The Pavilion of Haiti was converted into the Legislative Assembly Building. The Post Pavilion became a post office. The Guatemala Pavilion became the home of the Haiti Red Cross, and the Vatican Pavilion became a church. The devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake laid waste to many buildings in Haiti including most of these exposition buildings including the Legislative Building, Red Cross, and Post Office.


  1. ^ a b Kimberly D. Perle (2008). "Port-au-Prince 1949-1940". In Pelle, Findling (ed.). Encyclopedia of World's Fairs and Expositions. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 314. ISBN 978-0-7864-3416-9.
  2. ^ a b Kimberly D. Perle (2008). "Port-au-Prince 1949-1940". In Pelle, Findling (ed.). Encyclopedia of World's Fairs and Expositions. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 315. ISBN 978-0-7864-3416-9.
  3. ^ "Jacques-Enguerrand Gourgue | The Electric Gallery - Egallery - Fine Art - The Art Shopping Source". Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Photo: Fête du Bicentenaire - 8 Décembre 1949. | Il était une fois Haiti...(1ère partie). album | Pikliz.com" (in French). Archived from the original on 22 March 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  5. ^ "Don Shirley - biography". Retrieved 23 June 2012.
  6. ^ Arthus Wien Weibert, Machine diplomatique française en Haïti: (1945-1958), L'Harmattan, 2012

18°32′58″N 72°20′54″W / 18.5494°N 72.3484°W / 18.5494; -72.3484