About Haiti

While not without its difficulties, Haiti is a beautiful country filled with remarkable people made uniquely and eternally in the image of God.

Haiti occupies the western third of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, sharing a border with the Dominican Republic. The island lies 700 miles off the coast of Florida and covers an area slightly smaller than the state of Maryland. Port-au-Prince is Haiti’s capital and largest city.

Demographics, Religion, and Economics

Haiti’s population is a little over 9 million with a large portion of those under the age of 18.. This is partly due to high birthrates and shorter life expectancies: 37% of Haitians are younger than 14, 59% are between 15 and 64 years old; just 3% are over the ager of 65. French and Haitian Creole are the official languages of the country. Roughly 80 percent of Haitians are Roman Catholic, while fewer than one in five claims to be Protestant. Roughly 95 percent of Haitians – regardless of religious affiliation – hold at least some Voodoo beliefs or superstitions. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. More than two-thirds of the population is unemployed. Its main exports are apparel, oils, cocoa, mangoes and coffee.

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Haiti Quick Facts

  • Population just under 10 million
  • 62 years average life expectancy
  • 41.6% unemployment rate
  • 95% Nominal Christians/Catholic/Voodoo
  • 16% Evangelical

Climate and Terrain

The name “Haiti” means “land of the high mountains and indeed most of the country is very rugged and mountainous. Haiti is a tropical climate, hot and humid during most months of the year. Some areas of the country are are arid and dry where the mountains cut off the winds. Over the last century, mass deforestation, poor environmental management, and overuse of timber as fuel and charcoal have led to significant loss of topsoil and strong vegetation. Haiti lies in the middle of the hurricane tracks of both the Atlantic and Caribbean and is frequently subject to severe hurricane seasons. In 2010, Haiti experienced a magnitude 7 earthquake that seriously damaged large portions of the Port-au-Prince and lefts tens of thousands homeless.

HISTORY

The native Taino Amerindians inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by Columbus in 1492. Within 25 years the Taino Amerindians had been virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola. Haiti became a bustling French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, Haiti became one of the wealthiest colonies in the Caribbean but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. African slaves were imported by the thousands to work on sugar, tobacco and coffee plantations. A long and violent slave uprising finally led to Haitian independence in 1804. Haiti became the first black republic to declare independence. However, the country could not revive its profitable plantation economy. Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. Haiti endured a series of occupations by U.S. Marines and, beginning in the 1950s, a period of rule by brutal dictators François “Papa Doc” Duvalier and “Baby Doc,” his son. During that period, an estimated 30,000 Haitians were killed for being opponents of the Duvalier regime. The country returned to a few brief months of democratic rule under President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was temporarily overthrown in a coup that eventually led to intervention by the United Nations, which continues today. Haitians currently live with a tentative restored government and a demobilized military. In 2008 Haiti was hit by four tropical storms back-to-back, which severely damaged the transportation infrastructure and agricultural sector. Then on January 12th, 2010 a massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti with an epicenter about 15 km southwest of the capital, Port-au-Prince. The earthquake is assessed as the worst in this region over the last 200 years; massive international assistance is required to help the country recover. (Content from https://mohhaiti.org/about-haiti.)