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Country Facts

About the Country

Background  
The native Arawak Amerindians - who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by Columbus in 1492 - were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola, and in 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island - Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean, but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. In the late 18th century, Haiti's nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L'Ouverture and after a prolonged struggle, became the first black republic to declare its independence in 1804. Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Geography

Location: Caribbean, western one-third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic

Geographic Coordinates:

19 00 N, 72 25 W

Area: total: 27,750 sq km
land: 27,560 sq km
water: 190 sq km

Natural resources: bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble, hydropower

 

People

Population: 8,121,622
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2005 est.)

Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%), none 1%, other 3% (1982) note: roughly half of the population practices Voodoo

Languages: French (official), Creole (official)

 

Government

Capital: Port-au-Prince

National Holiday: Independence Day, 1 January (1804)

 

Economy

Overview: In this poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, 80% of the population lives in abject poverty, and natural disasters frequently sweep the nation. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agriculture sector, which consists mainly of small-scale subsistence farming. Following legislative elections in May 2000, fraught with irregularities, international donors - including the US and EU - suspended almost all aid to Haiti. The economy shrank an estimated 1.2% in 2001, 0.9% in 2002, grew 0.4% in 2003, and shrank by 3.5% in 2004. Suspended aid and loan disbursements totaled more than $500 million at the start of 2003. Haiti also suffers from rampant inflation, a lack of investment, and a severe trade deficit. In early 2005 Haiti paid its arrears to the World Bank, paving the way to reengagement with the Bank. The resumption of aid flows from all donors is alleviating but not ending the nation's bitter economic problems. Civil strife in 2004 combined with extensive damage from flooding in southern Haiti in May 2004 and Tropical Storm Jeanne in northwestern Haiti in September 2004 further impoverished Haiti.

 

OFFICIAL COMPOSITION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF HAITI 2012

 

H. E. Mr. Michel Joseph MARTELLY, President of the Republic of Haiti

H. E. Mr. LaurenT LAMOTHE, Prime Minister

H. E. Mr. Laurent LAMOTHE, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship

Mr. Thierry MAYARD PAUL, Minister of Interior, Territorial Collectivities and National Defense

Mr. Michel Pierre BRUNACHE, Minister of Justice, Public Safety and Police

Mr. André Lemercier GEORGES, Minister of Economy and Finance

Mr. Jude Hervé DAY, Minister of Planning and External Cooperation

Mr. Jacques ROUSSEAU, Minister of Public Works, Transport, Communications and Energy

Mr. Hébert DOCTEUR, Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development

Mr. Réginald PAUL,  Minister of National Education and Professional Training

Mrs. Florence Duperval GUILLAUME, Minister of Public Health and Population

Mr. Wilson LALEAU, Minister of Commerce and Industry

Mr. Francois Richel LAFAILLE, Minister of Social Affairs and Labor

Mrs. Yanick MEZIL, Minister of Women’s Condition and Women’s Rights

Mr. Joseph Ronald TOUSSAINT, Minister of Environment

Mr. Jean Roosvelt RENÉ, Minister of Youth, Sports and Civic Action

Mr. Pierre Raymond DUMAS, Minister of Culture and Communication

Mrs. Stéphanie Balmir VILLEDROUIN, Minister of Tourism

Mr. Ralph Ricardo THÉANO,  Minister, deleguate to the Prime Minister Office, in charge of relations with the Parliament