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Republic of Haiti

République d'Haïti  (French)
Repiblik Ayiti  (language?)
Flag of Haiti
Location of Haiti
and largest city
Official languages French
Haitian Creole
Ethnic groups
90% black, 10% mulatto and white[2]
Demonym(s) Haitian
Government Unitary semi-presidential republic
• President
Michel Martelly
Garry Conille
30 October 1697
• Independence declared
1 January 1804
• Independence recognized from France
17 April 1825
• Total
27,750 km2 (10,710 sq mi) (140th)
• Water (%)
• 2011 estimate
9,719,932[2] (87th)
• Density
350.27/km2 (907.2/sq mi)

Haiti (French: Haïti; Haitian Creole: Ayiti), officially the Republic of Haiti (French: République d'Haïti; Haitian Creole: Repiblik d Ayiti) is a country on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The other country on the island is the Dominican Republic. Haiti has two official languages: French and Haitian Creole, or "Kreyol", which is a simple version of French mixed with African languages. Its capital city is Port-au-Prince.

Haiti has a tropical climate. In French, the country is called "La Perle des Antilles" (The pearl of the Antilles), because of its natural beauty. There are many mountains in Haiti. The country used to be covered with forests. However, it no longer is, because of deforestation. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Haiti is divided into ten departements. The main religion is Roman Catholicism. However, many Haitians also practice Voodoo. This is a religion which came from African folk beliefs in Benin. Haiti has many holidays; the largest and most important is the Mardi Gras.


Haiti has a total area of 27,750 km². Most of it is in the western third of the Hispaniola island. There are also smaller islands near the Haitian coast, like Gonâve, Île de la Tortue, Les Cayemites, Île-à-Vache and La Navase.

Haiti has many mountains. There are only some coastal plains and few valleys. The largest valley is the Cul-de-Sac. Port-au-Prince is in the western end of this valley. The country's main river is the Artibonite, which is also the longest in Hispaniola. Haiti's biggest city is Port-au-Prince, with more than 3 million people in its metropolitan area. The second largest city is Cap-Haïtien.

Haiti has a tropical climate. The rainy season lasts from April to June, and from October to November. Hurricanes are common during summer. In the past, hurricanes have caused a lot of damage and killed many people.


The Taino people were a tribe of Arawak Amerindians. They lived on the island of Hispaniola before Christopher Columbus found the island and started a European colony there. Columbus discovered the island of Hispaniola on his first trip to the Americas.[5] Within twenty-five years after Columbus arrived, all of the Arawaks had been killed by Spanish conquistadors.

In the early 17th century, the French set up a colony on Hispaniola. In 1697, Spain sold the western third of the island - Haiti - to the French. The French colony[6] was based on forestry and making sugar. It became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean. However, to do this, the colony brought many slaves over from Africa and destroyed much of the environment.

By the late 18th century, there were nearly half a million slaves in Haiti. They revolted, led by Toussaint L'Ouverture. After a hard and bloody struggle, they won their independence. In 1804, Haiti became the first independent black republic in the world.[7] Today there are many monuments in Haiti remembering the Haitian Revolution. One of the largest is La Citadelle Laferriere.

On January 12, 2010, in the afternoon of a Tuesday, Haiti was struck by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake. This was the worst earthquake to hit the country in the past 200 years.[8] The quake's epicenter was just outside the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.[9] The quake caused major damage to Port-au-Prince and nearby areas. Over 200,000 people were thought to have been killed, but it was hard to be sure because many people were buried in mass graves before they could be identified.[10]


Haiti is made of ten regions known as departments (French: départments, singular départment). These departments are further divided into 41 arrondissements, and 133 communes. These are the second and third level units of administration.

The 10 departments, with their capital cities in parentheses, are:

Departments of Haiti
  1. Artibonite (Gonaïves)
  2. Centre (Hinche)
  3. Grand'Anse (Jérémie)
  4. Nippes (Miragoâne)
  5. Nord (Cap-Haïtien)
  6. Nord-Est (Fort-Liberté)
  7. Nord-Ouest (Port-de-Paix)
  8. Ouest (Port-au-Prince) *national capital*
  9. Sud-Est (Jacmel)
  10. Sud (Les Cayes)


Official holidays (on the same day every year)

  • 1 January: Jour de l'Indépendance ("Independence Day")
  • 2 January: Jour des Aïeux ("Ancestors' Day")
  • 1 May: Fête de l'Agriculture et du Travail ("Agriculture and Labor Day")
  • 18 May: Fête du Drapeau et de l'Université ("Flag and University Day")
  • 17 October: Anniversary of the Death of Jean-Jacques Dessalines
  • 1 November: All Saint's Day
  • 2 November: All Soul's Day
  • 18 November: Battle of Vertières' Day and Armed Forces Day
  • 25 December: Christmas Day

Traditional and religious holidays (dates vary according to the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church)

  • Carnival (Only Mardi Gras is an official holiday)
  • Good Friday
  • Corpus Christi


Bas-Ravine, in the northern part of Cap-Haïtien.

Haiti is the least developed country in the Americas. It is also one of the least developed and poorest countries in the world.

There are indicators that can be used to compare social and economic situations between countries. Some indicators show that Haiti has fallen behind other poor developing countries since the 1980s. In 2006, Haiti ranked 146th of 177 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index (2006). About 90% of the Haitian people were living in poverty in 2003.[2] Haiti is the only country in the Americas on the United Nations list of Least Developed Countries and it is the poorest country in the Americas. The economy staying even or falling behind even before their big earthquake.

About 66% of all Haitians work in agriculture. Most of them do small-scale subsistence farming[11] (meaning that they are able to grow just enough to survive). This does not bring in much money.

Very few jobs were created in the last ten years. However, the informal economy is growing. Mangoes and coffee are two of Haiti's most important exports.[11] Haiti has consistently ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world on the Corruption Perceptions Index.

About one third of the national government's budget is money given to them by other countries. The United States gives the most money. Canada gives the second largest amount of money. The European Union, Venezuela and Cuba also give and help Haiti's economy in different ways. Haiti has renewed its alliances with Venezuela and Cuba in 2006 and 2007.

From 2001-2004, the United States stopped giving aid to Haiti completely. The aid was cut off after Haiti's 2000 election. The election's results were questioned, and President Aristide was accused of cheating to win the election. Aristide was overthrown in 2004. After that, the United States started giving aid to Haiti again. The United Nations led a peacekeeping operation called the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti. (The Mission is called called MINUSTAH in Haiti; this is an acronym for the Mission's name in French). The Brazilian army led the peacekeeping operation.

Even after President Aristide was overthrown, corruption continued to be very common in Haiti.[12][13]

Haiti has a large amount of foreign debt (money owed to other countries and international institutions to repay loans). The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program planned to forgive about $525 million of Haiti's debt by mid-2009.[14]


In 2009, the population of Haiti (the number of people living in the country) was about 10,090,190. Figures from the DNA Nation-wide Studies Institute say that the racial makeup of the population is:

  • 82.4%: Black African (Ewe 43%, Fon 37%, Akan 9%, Yoruba 7%, Others 4%).
  • 13.8%: Multiracial/Mulatto (European and African descent).
  • 2.2%: White European (French 55%, Spanish-Italian 35%, Others 10%).
  • 1.6%: Mainly Arabs (North African origins, Berbers 90%, Others 10%).

Some Asian people also live in the country.

DNA estimates of Haiti
Ethnicity % approx.
Black African/Grifes

Related pages


  1. Article 4 of the Constitution
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 CIA - The World Factbook -- Haiti
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Haiti". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
  4. "Gini Index". World Bank. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
  5. "Hispaniola - Columbus". Yale University. Retrieved 16 March 2013.
  6. "The Haitian Debacle: Yellow Fever and the Fate of the French" Montana State University; Retrieved January 14, 2010
  7. "Haitians", University of Louisiana
  8. "Magnitude 7.0 – Haiti Region". Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  9. "Major earthquake off Haiti causes hospital to collapse – Telegraph". Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  10. "Haiti says 200,000 may be dead, violence breaks out - Reuters". Retrieved January 14, 2010.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "CIA - The World Factbook – Haiti". United States. 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2007-12-20.
  12. "2006 Corruption Perceptions Index reinforces link between poverty and corruption". Transparency International. November 6, 2006. Retrieved January 15, 2009.
  13. "Hoping for change in Haiti’s Cité-Soleil". International Red Cross. Retrieved January 15, 2009.
  14. CIA World Fact Book