Haiti
Overview
 
Haiti officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

, in the Greater Antillean
Greater Antilles
The Greater Antilles are one of three island groups in the Caribbean. Comprising Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola , and Puerto Rico, the Greater Antilles constitute almost 90% of the land mass of the entire West Indies.-Greater Antilles in context :The islands of the Caribbean Sea, collectively known as...

 archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

. Ayiti (land of high mountains) was the indigenous Taíno
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 or Amerindian name for the island. The country's highest point is Pic la Selle
Pic la Selle
Pic la Selle , also called Morne La Selle, is the highest peak in Haiti with a height of 2,680 meters above sea level. The mountain is part of the Chaîne de la Selle mountain range. It is located in the Ouest administrative department....

, at 2680 metres (8,793 ft). The total area of Haiti is 27750 square kilometres (10,714 sq mi) and its capital is Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince is the capital and largest city of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The city's population was 704,776 as of the 2003 census, and was officially estimated to have reached 897,859 in 2009....

.
Timeline

1492    Christopher Columbus becomes the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola, now Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

1791    Beginning of the Haitian Slave Revolution in Saint-Domingue.

1794    British troops capture Port-au-Prince in Haiti.

1804    French rule ends in Haiti. Haiti becomes the first black republic and second independent country on the American Continent after the U.S.

1806    Former leader of the Haitian Revolution, Emperor Jacques I of Haiti is assassinated after an oppressive rule.

1844    The Dominican Republic gains independence from Haiti.

1844    One of the most important battles of the Dominican War of Independence from Haiti takes place near the city of Santiago de los Caballeros.

1935    Hurricane floods Haiti, killing over 2,000 people.

1986    Twenty-eight years of one-family rule end in Haiti, when President Jean-Claude Duvalier flees the Caribbean nation.

1988    The St Jean Bosco massacre takes place in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Encyclopedia
Haiti officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

, in the Greater Antillean
Greater Antilles
The Greater Antilles are one of three island groups in the Caribbean. Comprising Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola , and Puerto Rico, the Greater Antilles constitute almost 90% of the land mass of the entire West Indies.-Greater Antilles in context :The islands of the Caribbean Sea, collectively known as...

 archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

. Ayiti (land of high mountains) was the indigenous Taíno
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 or Amerindian name for the island. The country's highest point is Pic la Selle
Pic la Selle
Pic la Selle , also called Morne La Selle, is the highest peak in Haiti with a height of 2,680 meters above sea level. The mountain is part of the Chaîne de la Selle mountain range. It is located in the Ouest administrative department....

, at 2680 metres (8,793 ft). The total area of Haiti is 27750 square kilometres (10,714 sq mi) and its capital is Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince is the capital and largest city of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The city's population was 704,776 as of the 2003 census, and was officially estimated to have reached 897,859 in 2009....

. Haitian Creole
Haitian Creole language
Haitian Creole language , often called simply Creole or Kreyòl, is a language spoken in Haiti by about twelve million people, which includes all Haitians in Haiti and via emigration, by about two to three million speakers residing in the Bahamas, Cuba, Canada, France, Cayman Islands, French...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 are the official languages.

Haiti's regional, historical, and ethno-linguistic position is unique for several reasons. It was the first independent nation in Latin America and the first black
Black people
The term black people is used in systems of racial classification for humans of a dark skinned phenotype, relative to other racial groups.Different societies apply different criteria regarding who is classified as "black", and often social variables such as class, socio-economic status also plays a...

-led republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 in the world when it gained independence as part of a successful slave revolution
Haitian Revolution
The Haitian Revolution was a period of conflict in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which culminated in the elimination of slavery there and the founding of the Haitian republic...

 in 1804. Despite having common cultural links with its Hispano-Caribbean
Hispanic America
Hispanic America or Spanish America is the region comprising the American countries inhabited by Spanish-speaking populations.These countries have significant commonalities with each other and with Spain, whose colonies they formerly were...

 neighbors, Haiti is the only predominantly Francophone
Francophone
The adjective francophone means French-speaking, typically as primary language, whether referring to individuals, groups, or places. Often, the word is used as a noun to describe a natively French-speaking person....

 independent nation
Nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

 in the Americas. It is one of only two independent nations in the Americas (along with Canada) that designate French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 as an official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

; the other French-speaking areas are all overseas départements, or collectivités, of France.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 as per the Human Development Index. It has experienced political violence throughout its history
History of Haiti
The recorded history of Haiti began on December 5, 1492 when the European navigator Christopher Columbus happened upon a large island in the region of the western Atlantic Ocean that later came to be known as the Caribbean. It was inhabited by the Taíno, an Arawakan people, who variously called...

. Most recently, in February 2004, an armed rebellion forced the resignation and exile of previous President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a Haitian former Catholic priest and politician who served as Haiti's first democratically elected president. A proponent of liberation theology, Aristide was appointed to a parish in Port-au-Prince in 1982 after completing his studies...

, and a provisional government took control with security provided by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
The United Nations Stabilisation Mission In Haiti , also known as MINUSTAH, an acronym of the French translation, is a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti that has been in operation since 2004. The mission's military component is led by the Brazilian Army and the force commander is...

 (MINUSTAH). Michel Martelly, the current president, was elected in the Haitian general election, 2011.

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti and devastated Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010
2010 Haiti earthquake
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, approximately west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks...

. Although the exact number was difficult to determine, the highest reliable death count was estimated at 220,000. Haitian government estimates were higher. The Presidential palace, Parliament and many other important structures were destroyed, along with countless homes and businesses, leaving many homeless. The country has yet to recover from the 2010 earthquake (and subsequent incidents) due, largely, to both the severity of the damage Haiti endured in 2010, as well as to public reliance on a government that was volatile well before the 2010 earthquake. A number of aid organizations have collected over $2 billion from donors in the United States in response to the 2010 disaster. These moneys - in combination with many major international donations - are aimed at helping to rebuild a country whose people still suffer from tremendous difficulties rooted in the 2010 disaster.

History

Precolonial and Spanish colonial periods

The island of Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

, of which Haiti occupies the western third, is one of many Caribbean islands inhabited at the time of European arrival by the Taíno
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

 Indians, speakers of an Arawakan language. The Taíno name for the entire island was either Ayiti or Kiskeya. In the Taíno societies of the Caribbean Islands, the largest unit of political organization was led by a cacique
Cacique
Cacique is a title derived from the Taíno word for the pre-Columbian chiefs or leaders of tribes in the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles...

; hence the term 'caciquedom' (French caciquat, Spanish cacicazgo) for these Taíno polities
Polity
Polity is a form of government Aristotle developed in his search for a government that could be most easily incorporated and used by the largest amount of people groups, or states...

, which are often called "chiefdoms". Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, the island of Hispaniola was divided among five or six long-established caciquedoms.
The caciquedoms were tributary kingdoms, with payment consisting of harvests. Taíno cultural artifacts include cave paintings in several locations in the country, which have become national symbols of Haiti and tourist attractions. Modern-day Léogane
Léogane
Léogâne is a seaside town in Ouest Department, Haïti. It is located in the eponymous arrondissement, the Léogâne Arrondissement. The port town is located about West of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The town was at the epicenter of the 12 January 2010 earthquake, and was catastrophically...

, a town in the southwest, is at the site of Xaragua's former capital.

Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 landed at Môle Saint-Nicolas
Môle Saint-Nicolas
Môle-Saint-Nicolas is a town in the Republic of Haiti. It is the chief town of the Môle-Saint-Nicolas Arrondissement in the department of Nord-Ouest...

 on December 5, 1492, and claimed the island for Spain. Nineteen days later, his ship the Santa María
Santa María (ship)
La Santa María de la Inmaculada Concepción , was the largest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus in his first voyage. Her master and owner was Juan de la Cosa.-History:...

ran aground near the present site of Cap-Haïtien
Cap-Haïtien
Cap-Haïtien is a city of about 190,000 people on the north coast of Haiti and capital of the Department of Nord...

; Columbus was forced to leave behind 39 men, founding the settlement of La Navidad
La Navidad
La Navidad was a settlement that Christopher Columbus and his men established in present day Haiti in 1492 from the remains of the Spanish ship, the Santa María...

. Following the destruction of La Navidad by the local indigenous people, Columbus moved to the eastern side of the island and established La Isabela. One of the earliest leaders to fight off Spanish conquest was Queen Anacaona
Anacaona
Anacaona , also called the Golden Flower, was a Taíno cacica , sister of Bohechío, chief of Jaragua, and wife of Caonabo, chief of the nearby territory of Maguana, two of the five highest caciques who ruled the island of Hispaniola when the Spaniards settled there in 1492...

, a princess of Xaragua who married Caonabo, the cacique of Maguana. The couple resisted Spanish rule in vain; she was captured by the Spanish and executed in front of her people. To this day, Queen Anacaona is revered in Haiti as one of the country's founders.

The Spanish exploited the island for its gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, mined chiefly by local Amerindians directed by the Spanish occupiers. Those refusing to work in the mines were killed or sold into slavery. Europeans brought with them infectious diseases that were new to the Caribbean, to which the indigenous population lacked immunity
Immunity (medical)
Immunity is a biological term that describes a state of having sufficient biological defenses to avoid infection, disease, or other unwanted biological invasion. Immunity involves both specific and non-specific components. The non-specific components act either as barriers or as eliminators of wide...

. These new diseases were the chief cause of the dying off of the Taíno, but ill treatment, malnutrition, and a drastic drop in the birthrate as a result of societal disruption also contributed. The first recorded smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 outbreak in the Americas occurred on Hispaniola in 1507.

The Laws of Burgos, 1512–1513, were the first nationally codified set of laws governing the behavior of Spanish settlers in America, particularly with regards to native Indians. They forbade the maltreatment of natives, endorsed their conversion
Proselytism
Proselytizing is the act of attempting to convert people to another opinion and, particularly, another religion. The word proselytize is derived ultimately from the Greek language prefix προσ- and the verb ἔρχομαι in the form of προσήλυτος...

 to Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

, and legalized the colonial practice of creating encomienda
Encomienda
The encomienda was a system that was employed mainly by the Spanish crown during the colonization of the Americas to regulate Native American labor....

s, where Indians were grouped together to work under colonial masters. The Spanish crown found it difficult to enforce these laws in a distant colony.

The Spanish governors began importing enslaved
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 Africans for labor. In 1517, Charles V
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 authorized the draft of slaves. The Taínos became virtually, but not completely, extinct on the island of Hispaniola. Some who evaded capture fled to the mountains and established independent settlements. Survivors mixed with escaped African slaves (runaways called maroons
Maroon (people)
Maroons were runaway slaves in the West Indies, Central America, South America, and North America, who formed independent settlements together...

) and produced a multiracial generation called zambos. French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 settlers later called people of mixed African and Amerindian ancestry marabou
Marabou (ethnicity)
Marabou is a term of Haitian origin denoting multiracial admixture. The term describes the offspring of a person of mixed race: black African/European and East Indian ancestry, born in Haiti. The East Indians arrived in Haiti from other Caribbean islands...

. The mestizo
Mestizo
Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Latin America, Philippines and Spain for people of mixed European and Native American heritage or descent...

were children born to relationships between native women and European – usually Spanish – men. During French rule, children of mixed race, usually born of unions between African women and European men, were called mulâtres.

As a gateway to the Caribbean, Hispaniola became a haven for pirates
Piracy in the Caribbean
] The era of piracy in the Caribbean began in the 16th century and died out in the 1830s after the navies of the nations of Western Europe and North America with colonies in the Caribbean began combating pirates. The period during which pirates were most successful was from the 1690s until the 1720s...

. The western part of the island was settled by French buccaneer
Buccaneer
The buccaneers were privateers who attacked Spanish shipping in the Caribbean Sea during the late 17th century.The term buccaneer is now used generally as a synonym for pirate...

s. Among them was Bertrand d'Ogeron, who succeeded in growing tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

. His success prompted many of the numerous buccaneers and freebooters to turn into settlers. This population did not submit to Spanish royal authority until the year 1660 and caused a number of conflicts. By 1640, the buccaneers of Tortuga were calling themselves the Brethren of the Coast
Brethren of the Coast
The Brethren or Brethren of the Coast were a loose coalition of pirates and privateers commonly known as buccaneers and active in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico....

. French pirate Jean Lafitte
Jean Lafitte
Jean Lafitte was a pirate and privateer in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century. He and his elder brother, Pierre, spelled their last name Laffite, but English-language documents of the time used "Lafitte", and this is the commonly seen spelling in the United States, including for places...

, who operated in New Orleans and Galveston
Galveston, Texas
Galveston is a coastal city located on Galveston Island in the U.S. state of Texas. , the city had a total population of 47,743 within an area of...

, was born in Port-au-Prince around 1782.

Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who might have been born in St Marc, Saint-Domingue in 1745, established a fur trading post at present-day Chicago, Illinois of which he can be considered one of the founders. John James Audubon
John James Audubon
John James Audubon was a French-American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He was notable for his expansive studies to document all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats...

, the renowned ornithologist and painter, was born in 1785 in Les Cayes, Saint-Domingue and painted, cataloged and described the birds of North America.

In 1779, more than 500 volunteers from Saint-Domingue, under the command of Comte d'Estaing, fought alongside American colonial troops against the British in the Siege of Savannah
Siege of Savannah
The Siege of Savannah or the Second Battle of Savannah was an encounter of the American Revolutionary War in 1779. The year before, the city of Savannah, Georgia, had been captured by a British expeditionary corps under Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Campbell. The siege itself consisted of a joint...

, one of the most significant foreign contributions to the American Revolutionary War.

17th century settlement

Bertrand d'Orgeron attracted many colonists from Martinique
Martinique
Martinique is an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea, with a land area of . Like Guadeloupe, it is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. To the northwest lies Dominica, to the south St Lucia, and to the southeast Barbados...

 and Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe
Guadeloupe is an archipelago located in the Leeward Islands, in the Lesser Antilles, with a land area of 1,628 square kilometres and a population of 400,000. It is the first overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department. As with the other overseas departments, Guadeloupe...

, such as the Roy family (Jean Roy, 1625–1707); Hebert (Jean Hebert, 1624, with his family) and Barre (Guillaume Barre, 1642, with his family). They and others were driven from their lands when more land was needed for the extension of the sugar
Sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

 plantation
Plantation
A plantation is a long artificially established forest, farm or estate, where crops are grown for sale, often in distant markets rather than for local on-site consumption...

s. From 1670 to 1690, a drop in the tobacco markets significantly reduced the number of settlers on the island.

The first windmill
Windmill
A windmill is a machine which converts the energy of wind into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades. Originally windmills were developed for milling grain for food production. In the course of history the windmill was adapted to many other industrial uses. An important...

 for processing sugar was built in 1685.

Treaty of Ryswick and slave colony (1697)

France and Spain settled hostilities on the island by the Treaty of Ryswick
Treaty of Ryswick
The Treaty of Ryswick or Ryswyck was signed on 20 September 1697 and named after Ryswick in the Dutch Republic. The treaty settled the Nine Years' War, which pitted France against the Grand Alliance of England, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the United Provinces.Negotiations started in May...

 of 1697, which divided Hispaniola between them. France received the western third and subsequently named it Saint-Domingue
Saint-Domingue
The labour for these plantations was provided by an estimated 790,000 African slaves . Between 1764 and 1771, the average annual importation of slaves varied between 10,000-15,000; by 1786 it was about 28,000, and from 1787 onward, the colony received more than 40,000 slaves a year...

 (not the current Santo-Domingo, which is in the Dominican Republic and was part of the eastern side given to the Spanish through the treaty). Many French colonists soon arrived and established plantations in Saint-Domingue due to high profit
Profit (accounting)
In accounting, profit can be considered to be the difference between the purchase price and the costs of bringing to market whatever it is that is accounted as an enterprise in terms of the component costs of delivered goods and/or services and any operating or other expenses.-Definition:There are...

 potential. By 1789, there were approximately 40,000 French immigrants on the western part of the island, while by 1763 the French population of Canada
New France
New France was the area colonized by France in North America during a period beginning with the exploration of the Saint Lawrence River by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Spain and Great Britain in 1763...

 numbered only 65,000.

By about 1790, Saint-Domingue had greatly overshadowed its eastern counterpart in terms of wealth and population. It quickly became the richest French colony in the New World due to the immense profits from the sugar, coffee and indigo
Indigo dye
Indigo dye is an organic compound with a distinctive blue color . Historically, indigo was a natural dye extracted from plants, and this process was important economically because blue dyes were once rare. Nearly all indigo dye produced today — several thousand tons each year — is synthetic...

 industries. The French-enacted Code Noir
Code Noir
The Code noir was a decree originally passed by France's King Louis XIV in 1685. The Code Noir defined the conditions of slavery in the French colonial empire, restricted the activities of free Negroes, forbade the exercise of any religion other than Roman Catholicism , and ordered...

("Black Code"), prepared by Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert
Jean-Baptiste Colbert was a French politician who served as the Minister of Finances of France from 1665 to 1683 under the rule of King Louis XIV. His relentless hard work and thrift made him an esteemed minister. He achieved a reputation for his work of improving the state of French manufacturing...

 and ratified by Louis XIV, established rigid rules on slave treatment and permissible freedom. Saint-Domingue has been described as one of the most brutally efficient slave colonies; one-third of newly imported Africans died within a few years.

Revolution (1791)

Inspired by the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 and principles of the rights of men, free people of colour and slaves in Saint-Domingue
Saint-Domingue
The labour for these plantations was provided by an estimated 790,000 African slaves . Between 1764 and 1771, the average annual importation of slaves varied between 10,000-15,000; by 1786 it was about 28,000, and from 1787 onward, the colony received more than 40,000 slaves a year...

 and the French and West Indies pressed for freedom and more civil rights. Most important was the revolution of the slaves in Saint-Domingue, starting in the heavily African-majority northern plains in 1791. In 1792, the French government sent three commissioners with troops to reestablish control. They began to build an alliance with the free people of colour who wanted more civil rights. In 1793, France and Great Britain went to war, and British troops invaded Saint-Domingue. The execution of Louis XVI heightened tensions in the colony. To build an alliance with the gens de couleur
Gens de couleur
Gens de couleur is a French term meaning "people of color." The term was commonly used in France's West Indian colonies prior to the abolition of slavery, where it was a short form of gens de couleur libres ....

and slaves, the French commissioners Sonthonax and Polverel abolished slavery in the colony. Six months later, the National Convention
National Convention
During the French Revolution, the National Convention or Convention, in France, comprised the constitutional and legislative assembly which sat from 20 September 1792 to 26 October 1795 . It held executive power in France during the first years of the French First Republic...

 led by Robespierre and the Jacobins
Jacobin Club
The Jacobin Club was the most famous and influential political club in the development of the French Revolution, so-named because of the Dominican convent where they met, located in the Rue St. Jacques , Paris. The club originated as the Club Benthorn, formed at Versailles from a group of Breton...

  endorsed abolition
Abolition of slavery timeline
Abolition of slavery occurred as abolition in specific countries, abolition of the trade in slaves and abolition throughout empires. Each of these steps was usually the result of a separate law or action.-Ancient times:...

 and extended it to all the French colonies.

Toussaint Louverture, a former slave and leader in the slave revolt—a man who rose in importance as a military commander because of his many skills—achieved peace in 1794 in Saint-Domingue after years of war against both external invaders and internal dissension. Having established a disciplined, flexible army, Louverture drove out not only the Spanish but also the British invaders who threatened the colony. He restored stability and prosperity by daring measures that included inviting planters to return and insisting freed men work on plantations to renew revenues for the island. He also renewed trading ties with Great Britain and the United States. In the uncertain years of revolution, the United States played both sides, with traders supplying both the French and the rebels.

Independence and Division (1804)

When the French government changed, new members of the national legislature – lobbied by planters – began to rethink their decisions on colonial slavery. After Toussaint Louverture created a separatist constitution, Napoléon Bonaparte sent an expedition of 20,000 men under the command of his brother-in-law, General Charles Leclerc
Charles Leclerc
Charles Victoire Emmanuel Leclerc was a French Army general and husband to Pauline Bonaparte, sister to Napoleon Bonaparte.-To 1801:...

, to retake the island. Leclerc's mission was to oust Louverture and restore slavery. The French achieved some victories, but within a few months, yellow fever
Yellow fever
Yellow fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic disease. The virus is a 40 to 50 nm enveloped RNA virus with positive sense of the Flaviviridae family....

 had killed most of the French soldiers. More than 50,000 French troops died in an attempt to retake colony, including 18 generals. Leclerc invited Toussaint Louverture to a parley
Parley
Parley is a discussion or conference, especially one between enemies over terms of a truce or other matters. The root of the word parley is parler, which is the French verb "to speak"; specifically the conjugation parlez "you speak", whether as imperative or indicative.Beginning in the High Middle...

, kidnapped him and sent him to France, where he was imprisoned at Fort de Joux
Fort de Joux
The Fort de Joux or Château de Joux is a castle, transformed into a fort, located in La Cluse-et-Mijoux, in the Doubs département, in the Jura mountains of France. It commands the mountain pass "Cluse de Pontarlier"....

. He died there in 1803 of exposure and tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 or malnutrition
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess , or in the wrong proportions....

 and pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

.
Slaves, along with free gens de couleur and allies continued their fight for independence after the French transported Louverture to France. The native leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines
Jean-Jacques Dessalines
Jean-Jacques Dessalines was a leader of the Haitian Revolution and the first ruler of an independent Haiti under the 1801 constitution. Initially regarded as Governor-General, Dessalines later named himself Emperor Jacques I of Haiti...

 – long an ally and general of Toussaint Louverture, brilliant strategist and soldier – defeated French troops led by Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau
Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau
Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau was a French soldier, the son of Jean-Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau....

, at the Battle of Vertières
Battle of Vertières
The Battle of Vertières , the last major battle of the Second War of Haitian Independence, the final part of the Haitian Revolution under François Capois. It was fought between Haitian rebels and French expeditionary forces on 18 November 1803 at Vertières...

. At the end of the double battle for emancipation
Emancipation
Emancipation means the act of setting an individual or social group free or making equal to citizens in a political society.Emancipation may also refer to:* Emancipation , a champion Australian thoroughbred racehorse foaled in 1979...

 and independence, former slaves proclaimed the independence of Saint-Domingue on 1 January 1804, declaring the new nation be named "Ayiti", both a Native American and African term, meaning "home or mother of the earth" in the Taino-Arawak Native American language and "sacred earth or homeland" in the Fon African language, to honor one of the indigenous Taíno names for the island. Haiti is the only nation born of a slave revolt. Haiti's perseverance and successful resistance against colonial forces would influence the future of the United States Civil War. Historians have estimated the slave rebellion resulted in the death of 100,000 blacks and 24,000 of the 40,000 white colonists. In February 2010, the eight-page document containing the official Declaration of Independence, which was believed to have been destroyed or thrown out, was found by a Canadian graduate student from Duke University
Duke University
Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina, United States. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco industrialist James B...

 in Britain's National Archives. Coming as it did soon after the 2010 devastating earthquake, the discovery is seen by many to be providential.

The revolution in Saint-Domingue unleashed a massive multiracial exodus: French Créole
Creole peoples
The term Creole and its cognates in other languages — such as crioulo, criollo, créole, kriolu, criol, kreyol, kreol, kriulo, kriol, krio, etc. — have been applied to people in different countries and epochs, with rather different meanings...

 colonists fled with those slaves they still held, as did numerous free people of color
Free people of color
A free person of color in the context of the history of slavery in the Americas, is a person of full or partial African descent who was not enslaved...

, some of whom were also slaveholders and transported slaves with them. In 1809, nearly 10,000 refugees from Saint-Domingue arrived from Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, where they had first fled, to settle en masse in New Orleans. They doubled that city's population and helped preserve its French language and culture for several generations. In addition, the newly arrived slaves added to the city's African and multiracial culture.

Dessalines was proclaimed "Emperor for Life" by his troops. He exiled or killed the remaining whites and ruled as a despot
Despotism
Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy, or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy...

. In the continuing competition for power, he was assassinated on 17 October 1806. The country was then divided between a kingdom
Monarchy
A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is usually held until death or abdication and is often hereditary and includes a royal house. In some cases, the monarch is elected...

 in the north directed by Henri I
Henri Christophe
Henri Christophe was a key leader in the Haitian Revolution, winning independence from France in 1804. On 17 February 1807, after the creation of a separate nation in the north, Christophe was elected President of the State of Haiti...

; and a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 in the south directed by Alexandre Pétion
Alexandre Pétion
Alexandre Sabès Pétion was President of the Republic of Haiti from 1806 until his death. He is considered as one of Haiti's founding fathers, together with Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and his rival Henri Christophe.-Early life:Pétion was born in Port-au-Prince to a Haitian...

, an homme de couleur. Henri I is best known for constructing the Citadelle Laferrière
Citadelle Laferrière
The Citadelle Laferrière or, Citadelle Henry Christophe, or simply the Citadelle , is a large mountaintop fortress in northern Haiti, approximately south of the city of Cap-Haïtien and five miles uphill from the town of Milot...

, the largest fortress in the Western Hemisphere, to defend the island against the French. Despite opposition from the mulatto populace, Henri Christophe successfully united Northern Haiti for a period of time under a semi-feudal corvée
Corvée
Corvée is unfree labour, often unpaid, that is required of people of lower social standing and imposed on them by the state or a superior . The corvée was the earliest and most widespread form of taxation, which can be traced back to the beginning of civilization...

 system, establishing a rigid education and economic code aimed at sustainable improvement for all Haitians.

In 1815, Simón Bolívar
Simón Bolívar
Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Yeiter, commonly known as Simón Bolívar was a Venezuelan military and political leader...

, the South American political leader who was instrumental in Latin America's struggle for independence from Spain, received military and financial assistance from Haiti. Bolívar had fled to Haiti after an attempt had been made on his life in Jamaica, where he had unsuccessfully sought support for his efforts. In 1817, on condition that Bolívar free any enslaved people he encountered in his fight for South American independence, Haitian president Alexandre Pétion
Alexandre Pétion
Alexandre Sabès Pétion was President of the Republic of Haiti from 1806 until his death. He is considered as one of Haiti's founding fathers, together with Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and his rival Henri Christophe.-Early life:Pétion was born in Port-au-Prince to a Haitian...

 provided Bolívar with soldiers, weapons and financial assistance, which were critical in enabling him to liberate the Viceroyalty of New Granada
Viceroyalty of New Granada
The Viceroyalty of New Granada was the name given on 27 May 1717, to a Spanish colonial jurisdiction in northern South America, corresponding mainly to modern Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. The territory corresponding to Panama was incorporated later in 1739...

 (Now Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, Ecuador
Ecuador
Ecuador , officially the Republic of Ecuador is a representative democratic republic in South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and by the Pacific Ocean to the west. It is one of only two countries in South America, along with Chile, that do not have a border...

, Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 and Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

).

Reunification

Beginning in 1821, President Jean Pierre Boyer
Jean Pierre Boyer
Jean-Pierre Boyer , a native of Saint-Domingue, was a soldier, one of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution, and President of Haiti from 1818 to 1843. He reunited the north and south of Haiti in 1820 and also invaded and took control of Santo Domingo, which brought all of Hispaniola under one...

, also an homme de couleur and successor to Pétion, managed to reunify the two parts of St. Domingue and extend control over the western part of the island. In addition, after Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo, known officially as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic. Its metropolitan population was 2,084,852 in 2003, and estimated at 3,294,385 in 2010. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, at the mouth of the Ozama River...

 declared its independence from Spain, Boyer sent forces in to take control. Boyer then ruled the entire island. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, "During his presidency, Boyer tried to halt the downward trend of the economy — which had begun with the successful revolt of black slaves against their French masters in the 1790s — by passing the Code Rural. Its provisions sought to tie the peasant labourers to plantation land by denying them the right to leave the land, enter the towns, or start farms or shops of their own and by creating a rural constabulary to enforce the code."

During Boyer's administration, his government negotiated with Loring D. Dewey
Loring D. Dewey
Loring Daniel Dewey was an early 19th century Presbyterian minister, an agent of the American Colonization Society, an emigrationist, a printer, and a reformer....

, an agent of the American Colonization Society
American Colonization Society
The American Colonization Society , founded in 1816, was the primary vehicle to support the "return" of free African Americans to what was considered greater freedom in Africa. It helped to found the colony of Liberia in 1821–22 as a place for freedmen...

 (ACS), to encourage free blacks
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 from the United States to emigrate to Haiti. They hoped to gain people with skills to contribute to the independent nation. In the early 19th century, the ACS – an uneasy blend of abolitionists and slaveholders – proposed resettlement of American free blacks to other countries, primarily to a colony in Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

, as a solution to problems of racism
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 in the US. Starting in September 1824, more than 6,000 American free blacks migrated to Haiti, with transportation paid by the ACS. Due to the poverty and other difficult conditions there, many returned to the US within a short time.

In July 1825, King Charles X of France sent a fleet of 14 vessels and thousands of troops to reconquer the island. Under pressure, President Boyer agreed to a treaty
Haiti indemnity controversy
The Haiti indemnity controversy refers to events surrounding the 1825 demand by France for a FR₣150 million indemnity to be paid by the Republic of Haiti in claims over property lost through the Haitian Revolution in return for diplomatic recognition...

 by which France formally recognized the independence of the nation in exchange for a payment of 150 million francs (reduced to 90 million in 1838) – an indemnity for profits lost from the slave trade. French abolitionist Victor Schoelcher
Victor Schoelcher
Victor Schoelcher was a French abolitionist writer in the 19th century and the main spokesman for a group from Paris who worked for the abolition of slavery, and formed an abolition society in 1834...

 wrote, "Imposing an indemnity on the victorious slaves was equivalent to making them pay with money that which they had already paid with their blood."

After losing the support of Haiti's elite, Boyer was ousted in 1843. A long succession of coups followed his departure to exile. National authority was disputed by factions of the army, the elite class, and the growing commercial class, increasingly made up of numerous immigrant businessmen: Germans
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

, Americans, French and English.

In 1912, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

ns residing in Haiti participated in a plot in which the Presidential Palace
National Palace (Haiti)
The National Palace is located in Port-au-Prince—facing Place L'Ouverture near the Champs de Mars—and is the official residence of the Haitian president. It was almost completely destroyed in the 2010 Haiti earthquake...

 was destroyed. On more than one occasion, French, US, German and British forces allegedly claimed large sums of money from the vaults of the National Bank of Haiti. Expatriates bankrolled and armed opposing groups.

In addition, national governments intervened in Haitian affairs. In 1892, the German government supported suppression of the reform movement of Anténor Firmin
Anténor Firmin
Joseph Auguste Anténor Firmin , better known as simply Anténor Firmin, was a Haitian anthropologist, journalist, and politician. Firmin is best known for his book De l'Égalité des Races Humaines , which was published as a rebuttal to French writer Count Arthur de Gobineau's work Essai sur...

. In January 1914, British, German and US forces entered Haiti, ostensibly to protect their citizens from civil unrest.

1915–1934

In an expression of the Roosevelt Corollary
Roosevelt Corollary
-Background:In late 1902, Britain, Germany, and Italy implemented a naval blockade of several months against Venezuela because of President Cipriano Castro's refusal to pay foreign debts and damages suffered by European citizens in a recent Venezuelan civil war. The incident was called the...

 to the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

, the United States occupied the island in 1915 and US Marines were stationed in the country until 1934. According to Monroe, treaties in 1915 and 1917 gave the U.S. State and Navy departments (and the Navy's Marine Corps) effective control over key government roles; the U.S. assumed responsibility for maintaining domestic peace and put down several small rebellions such as the "Cacos" uprising. Haiti had huge debts, which were refinanced by new loans from the National City Bank of New York, and paid off by American government officials who took control of customs and the national budget. The U.S. transformed the Garde into a modern police force and built up advanced public health, education, ports and roads. The U.S. Marines supervised the operations of a client Haitian government, and emphasized American-style modernization of the infrastructure and universal education. Haitian traditionalists were highly resistant to these changes while the urban elites wanted more control. Together they helped force an end to the occupation in 1934. President Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

 sent a commission that set up a plan of withdrawal that was achieved under President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

. The first step was a gradual, systematic turnover of government functions to the Haitian government; in 1934 it took control of the Garde and the Marines departed. The debts were still outstanding and the American financial advisor-general receiver handled the budget until 1941.

In 1915, Philippe Sudré Dartiguenave
Philippe Sudré Dartiguenave
Philippe Sudre Dartiguenave was a Haitian political figure. He served as president of Haïti from 12 August 1915 to 15 May 1922 in a government set up by the United States after its intervention began on July 27, 1915 following an uprising which resulted in the death of Jean Vilbrun Guillaume...

 was elected president. He was succeeded by Louis Borno
Louis Borno
Eustache Antoine Francois Joseph Louis Borno was a lawyer and Haitian politician. He served as President of the Republic of Haiti from 1922 to 1930 during the period of the American occupation of Haiti...

 in the 1922 elections. Borno worked closely with the Americans. Aware that many Haitians did not speak French, he was the first president to authorize the use of Creole in the education system. Sisal
Sisal
Sisal is an agave that yields a stiff fibre traditionally used in making twine, rope and also dartboards. The term may refer either to the plant or the fibre, depending on context...

 fiber cultivation was introduced to Haiti, and sugar and cotton became significant exports.
Recognition of the distinctive traditionalism of the Haitian people had a sharp impact on black writers in the U.S. (as well as white writers exploring black themes), including Eugene O'Neill
Eugene O'Neill
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature. His poetically titled plays were among the first to introduce into American drama techniques of realism earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish...

, James Weldon Johnson
James Weldon Johnson
James Weldon Johnson was an American author, politician, diplomat, critic, journalist, poet, anthologist, educator, lawyer, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. Johnson is remembered best for his leadership within the NAACP, as well as for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and...

, Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes
James Mercer Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance...

, Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist, anthropologist, and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance...

 and Orson Welles
Orson Welles
George Orson Welles , best known as Orson Welles, was an American film director, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio...

.

1934–1956

The US occupation forces established a boundary between Haiti and the Dominican Republic by taking disputed land from the latter. After the US left in 1934, Dominican
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

 dictator Rafael Trujillo – in an event known as the Parsley Massacre
Parsley Massacre
In October 1937, Dominican President Rafael Trujillo ordered the execution of the Haitian population living in the borderlands with Haiti. The violence resulted in the killing of 20,000On October 2, 1937, Trujillo had ordered 20,000 Haitian cane workers executed because they could not roll the "R"...

 – ordered his Army to kill Haitians living on the Dominican side of the border. In a "three-day genocidal spree", he murdered between 10,000 and 20,000 Haitians. He then developed a uniquely Dominican policy of racial discrimination, Antihaitianismo
Antihaitianismo
Antihaitianismo is a racist bias against Haitians and descendants of Haitians by Dominicans.- Description :Antihaitianismo can be traced back to a policy of racial segregation instituted by the Spaniards in the colony of Captaincy General of Santo Domingo .Human Rights Watch has stated in their...

 ("anti-Haitianism"), targeting the mostly black inhabitants of his neighboring country.

Sténio Vincent
Sténio Vincent
Sténio Joseph Vincent was President of Haiti from November 18, 1930 to May 15, 1941.In October 1930 Haitians chose a national assembly for the first time since 1918, which elected Vincent as President of Haiti...

 was succeeded as President in 1941 by Élie Lescot
Élie Lescot
Louis Élie Lescot was the President of Haiti from May 15, 1941 to January 11, 1946. He was a member of the country's light-skinned elite and used the political climate of World War II to sustain his power and ties to the United States, Haiti's powerful northern neighbor...

. In 1949, Lescot tried to change the constitution to allow for his own reelection, but in 1950 this triggered another coup. General Paul Magloire
Paul Magloire
Paul Eugène Magloire was a Haïtian military ruler from 1950 to 1956.Paul Magloire was born a general's son. In 1946 he participated in a successful coup against the president, Élie Lescot...

 led the country until December 1956, when he was forced to resign by a general strike. After a period of disorder, an election held in September 1957
Haitian presidential election, 1957
General elections were held in Haiti on 22 September 1957. Former Minister of Labour François Duvalier won the presidential election running under the National Unity Party banner, defeating the wealthy mulatto Louis Déjoie, as well as independent moderate Clement Jumelle, who had dropped out on...

 saw Dr. François Duvalier
François Duvalier
François Duvalier was the President of Haiti from 1957 until his death in 1971. Duvalier first won acclaim in fighting diseases, earning him the nickname "Papa Doc" . He opposed a military coup d'état in 1950, and was elected President in 1957 on a populist and black nationalist platform...

 elected President.

1957–1986

From 1957 to 1986 Haiti was governed by the hereditary dictatorship of the Duvalier family.

Former minister of health and labor François Duvalier
François Duvalier
François Duvalier was the President of Haiti from 1957 until his death in 1971. Duvalier first won acclaim in fighting diseases, earning him the nickname "Papa Doc" . He opposed a military coup d'état in 1950, and was elected President in 1957 on a populist and black nationalist platform...

, known as "Papa Doc" and initially popular among the blacks, was the President of Haiti from 1957 until his death in 1971. A strong believer in the rights of the Haitian black majority, he advanced black interests in the public sector. He stayed in power by enlisting an organization known as Tontons Macoutes
Tonton Macoute
Tonton Macoutes was a Haitian paramilitary force created in 1959 by President François 'Papa Doc' Duvalier. In 1970, the militia was officially renamed the Milice de Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale .Haitians called this force the “Tonton Macoutes,” after the Haitian Creole mythological...

("Bogeymen"), which maintained order by terrorizing the populace.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Haiti's diaspora made vital contributions to the establishment of francophone
Francophone
The adjective francophone means French-speaking, typically as primary language, whether referring to individuals, groups, or places. Often, the word is used as a noun to describe a natively French-speaking person....

 Africa's newly independent countries as Haiti's university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 professors, medical doctors, administrators and development specialists emigrated to these countries.

"Papa Doc" was succeeded by his son (born July 3, 1951) Jean-Claude Duvalier
Jean-Claude Duvalier
Jean-Claude Duvalier, nicknamed "Bébé Doc" or "Baby Doc" was the President of Haiti from 1971 until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986. He succeeded his father, François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, as the ruler of Haiti upon his father's death in 1971...

 – known also as "Bébé Doc" – who led the country from 1971 until his ouster in 1986. In 1986, protests against "Baby Doc" led him to seek exile in France. Army leader General Henri Namphy
Henri Namphy
Henri Namphy was a Haitian general and political figure. He served as President of Haiti's interim ruling body, the National Council of Government, from 7 February 1986 to 7 February 1988...

 headed a new National Governing Council
National Council of Government
The National Council of Government was the ruling body of Haiti from 1986 to 1988. The council was first established on February 7, 1986 as a joint military and civilian provisional government following the exile of President for Life Jean-Claude Duvalier. The council consisted of a President,...

.

In March 1987, a new Constitution was overwhelmingly approved by Haiti's population. General elections in November
Haitian presidential election, 1987
The 1987 Haitian presidential election took place on 29 November 1987. The election was cancelled after troops led by Service d'Intelligence National member Col Jean Claude Paul massacred 30 - 300 voters on election day. Jimmy Carter later wrote that "Citizens who lined up to vote were mowed down...

 were aborted after dozens of inhabitants were shot in the capital by soldiers and Tontons Macoutes, and scores more were massacred around the country. Fraudulent military-controlled elections followed
Haitian presidential election, 1988
General elections were held in Haiti on 17 January 1988, after the Haitian presidential election, 1987 had been cancelled due to an election day massacre of voters either orchestrated or condoned by the Haitian military. The elections were boycotted by most candidates who had contested the previous...

, boycotted by opposition candidates, and the elected President, Leslie Manigat
Leslie Manigat
Leslie François Saint Roc Manigat was elected president of Haiti by a tightly controlled military held election in January 1988.-In education:...

, was overthrown some months later in the June 1988 Haitian coup d'état
June 1988 Haitian coup d'état
The June 1988 Haitian coup d'état took place on 20 June 1988, when Henri Namphy overthrew Leslie Manigat. Manigat, who won the military-controlled Haitian presidential election, 1988, had taken office on 7 February....

 when he sought to assert his constitutional control over the military. The September 1988 Haitian coup d'état
September 1988 Haitian coup d'état
The September 1988 Haitian coup d'état took place on 17 September 1988, when a group of non-commissioned officers in the Haitian Presidential Guard overthrew General Henri Namphy, and brought General Prosper Avril to power...

 followed after the St Jean Bosco massacre
St Jean Bosco massacre
The St Jean Bosco massacre took place in Haiti on 11 September 1988. At least 13 people were killed and around 80 wounded in a three-hour assault on the Saint-Jean Bosco church in Port-au-Prince, which saw the church burned down...

 brought to the fore the increasing prominence of former Tontons Macoutes, and General Prosper Avril
Prosper Avril
Prosper Avril is a Haitian political figure who was President of Haiti from 1988 to 1990. A trusted member of François Duvalier's Presidential Guard and adviser to Jean-Claude Duvalier, Lt. Gen. Avril led the September 1988 Haitian coup d'état against a transition military government installed...

 led a military regime until March 1990. Throughout the late 1980s and into the 1990s, leading members of the military, intelligence and police were involved in the illegal drug trade in Haiti
Illegal drug trade in Haiti
The illegal drug trade in Haiti involves trans-shipment of cocaine and marijuana to the United States. It is a major shipment route. The island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, places it in an ideal location for drug smugglers, between Colombia and Puerto Rico...

, assisting Colombian drug traffickers smuggling drugs into the United States.

1990s

In December 1990, the former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a Haitian former Catholic priest and politician who served as Haiti's first democratically elected president. A proponent of liberation theology, Aristide was appointed to a parish in Port-au-Prince in 1982 after completing his studies...

 was elected President in the Haitian general election, winning more than two thirds of the vote. His 5-year mandate began on 7 February 1991, having survived a coup attempt even before his inauguration, when former Tonton Macoute
Tonton Macoute
Tonton Macoutes was a Haitian paramilitary force created in 1959 by President François 'Papa Doc' Duvalier. In 1970, the militia was officially renamed the Milice de Volontaires de la Sécurité Nationale .Haitians called this force the “Tonton Macoutes,” after the Haitian Creole mythological...

 leader Roger Lafontant
Roger Lafontant
Roger Lafontant is the former leader of the Tonton Macoutes and the former Minister of dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier. He was the leader of an attempted coup d'état on January 1991, in Haiti, an effort which ultimately lead to his death....

 seized the provisional President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot
Ertha Pascal-Trouillot
Ertha Pascal-Trouillot was the provisional President of Haiti from 1990 through 1991. She was the first woman in Haitian history to hold that office.-Background:...

 and declared himself President. After large numbers of Aristide supporters filled the streets in protest and Lafontant attempted to declare martial law, the Army crushed the incipient coup.

During Aristide's short-lived first period in office, he attempted to carry out substantial reforms, which brought passionate opposition from Haiti's business and military elite. His relationship with the National Assembly soon deteriorated, partly over his selection of his friend René Préval
René Préval
René Garcia Préval is a Haitian politician and agronomist who was the President of the Republic of Haiti from 14 May 2006 to 14 May 2011. He previously served as President from February 7, 1996, to February 7, 2001, and as Prime Minister from February 1991 to October 11, 1991.-Early life and...

 as Prime Minister. In September, Aristide was overthrown in the 1991 Haitian coup d'état
1991 Haitian coup d'état
The 1991 Haitian coup d'état took place on 29 September 1991 when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, elected 8 months earlier in the Haitian general election, 1990–1991, was deposed by the Haitian army. The coup was led by Army General Raoul Cédras, Army Chief of Staff Phillipe Biamby and Chief of...

, led by Army General Raoul Cédras
Raoul Cédras
Raoul Cédras is a former military officer, and was de facto ruler of Haiti from 1991 to 1994.-Background:Cédras was educated in the United States and was a member of the US-trained Leopard Corps...

, and flown into exile. Elections were scheduled, but then cancelled. The Organization of American States
Organization of American States
The Organization of American States is a regional international organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States...

 condemned the coup, and the United Nations set up a trade embargo. A campaign of terror against Aristide supporters was started by Emmanuel Constant
Emmanuel Constant
Emmanuel Constant is the founder of FRAPH, a Haitian death squad organized in mid-1993 to terrorize supporters of exiled president Jean-Bertrand Aristide....

. In 1993, Constant, who had been on the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

's payroll as an informant since 1992, organized the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haïti
Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haïti
The Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti was a far-rightparamilitary group organized in mid-1993. Its goal was to undermine support for the popular Catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who served less than eight months as Haïti's president before being deposed, on 29 September 1991,...

 (FRAPH), which targeted and killed an estimated 5000 Aristide supporters.

In 1994, an American team, under the direction of the Clinton Administration, successfully negotiated the departure of Haiti's military leaders and the peaceful entry of US forces under Operation Uphold Democracy
Operation Uphold Democracy
Operation Uphold Democracy was an intervention designed to remove the military regime installed by the 1991 Haitian coup d'état that overthrew the elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide...

, thereby paving the way for the restoration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president. In October 1994, Aristide returned to Haiti to complete his term in office. Aristide disbanded the Haitian army, and established a civilian police force.

Aristide vacated the presidency in February 1996, the scheduled end of his 5-year term based on the date of his inauguration. In the 1995 election, René Préval
René Préval
René Garcia Préval is a Haitian politician and agronomist who was the President of the Republic of Haiti from 14 May 2006 to 14 May 2011. He previously served as President from February 7, 1996, to February 7, 2001, and as Prime Minister from February 1991 to October 11, 1991.-Early life and...

 was elected as president for a five-year term, winning 88% of the popular vote. Préval had previously served as Aristide's Prime Minister from February to October 1991.

21st century

The November 2000 election
Haitian presidential election, 2000
Presidential elections were held in Haiti on 26 November 2000. The opposition parties, organised into the recently created Convergence Démocratique, boycotted the election after disputing the results of the parliamentary elections. The result was a landslide victory for Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who...

 gave the presidency back to Aristide with an overwhelming 92% of the vote. The election had been boycotted by the opposition, now organised into the Convergence Démocratique
Convergence Démocratique
Convergence Démocratique was a Haitian political movement created in summer 2000 in opposition to Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party. A group of disparate opposition parties and social organizations, it was crafted and built by the International Republican Institute...

, over a dispute in the May legislative elections. In subsequent years, there was increasing violence and human rights abuses. Aristide supporters attacked the opposition. Aristide spent years negotiating with the Convergence Démocratique
Convergence Démocratique
Convergence Démocratique was a Haitian political movement created in summer 2000 in opposition to Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party. A group of disparate opposition parties and social organizations, it was crafted and built by the International Republican Institute...

 on new elections, but the Convergence's inability to develop a sufficient electoral base made elections unattractive.

In 2004, a revolt began in northern Haiti. The rebellion eventually reached the capital; and Aristide was forced into exile, whereupon the United Nations stationed peacekeepers in Haiti. Much evidence points to a key U.S. role in Aristide's ouster, with Aristide and his bodyguard, Franz Gabriel, claiming that he was the victim of a "new coup d'état or modern kidnapping" by U.S. forces. Mrs. Aristide stated that the kidnappers wore US Special Forces uniforms, but changed into civilian clothes upon boarding the aircraft that was used to remove Aristide from Haiti. Boniface Alexandre
Boniface Alexandre
Boniface Alexandre is a politician in Haïti. He served as acting president of Haïti from 2004 to 2006. The 2004 Haitian coup d'état removed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from the Americas on February 29, 2004...

 assumed interim authority. René Préval
René Préval
René Garcia Préval is a Haitian politician and agronomist who was the President of the Republic of Haiti from 14 May 2006 to 14 May 2011. He previously served as President from February 7, 1996, to February 7, 2001, and as Prime Minister from February 1991 to October 11, 1991.-Early life and...

 was elected President in February 2006, following elections marked by uncertainties and popular demonstrations. The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
The United Nations Stabilisation Mission In Haiti , also known as MINUSTAH, an acronym of the French translation, is a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti that has been in operation since 2004. The mission's military component is led by the Brazilian Army and the force commander is...

 (also known as MINUSTAH) remains in the country, having been there since the 2004 Haiti Rebellion. The United States led a vast international campaign to prevent Aristide from returning to his country while he was exiled in South Africa. Released Wikileaks cables show that high-level U.S. and U.N. officials coordinated a politically motivated prosecution of Aristide to prevent him from "gaining more traction with the Haitian population and returning to Haiti." The United States and its allies allegedly poured tens of millions of dollars into unsuccessful efforts to slander Aristide as a drug trafficker, human rights violator, and heretical practitioner of voodoo.

Michèle Pierre-Louis
Michèle Pierre-Louis
Michèle Duvivier Pierre-Louis is a Haitian politician who was Prime Minister of Haiti from September 2008 to November 2009...

 was the second female Prime Minister of Haiti
Prime Minister of Haiti
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti is the head of government of Haiti. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President and ratified by the National Assembly. He or she appoints the Ministers and Secretaries of State and goes before the National Assembly to obtain a vote of confidence for...

 (September 2008-Nov. 2009). Claudette Werleigh
Claudette Werleigh
Claudette Werleigh was Prime Minister of Haïti from November 7, 1995 to February 7, 1996. She was Haiti's first female Prime Minister.She had previously been Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Religion in 1993 and 1995...

 (1995–1996) was the first.

2010–2011: Earthquake, cholera, and flood events

The 2010 Haiti earthquake
2010 Haiti earthquake
The 2010 Haiti earthquake was a catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake, with an epicentre near the town of Léogâne, approximately west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti's capital. The earthquake occurred at 16:53 local time on Tuesday, 12 January 2010.By 24 January, at least 52 aftershocks...

 left up to 316,000 people dead and 1.6 million homeless. Massive homelessness and displacement continues and does not appear to have significantly abated. Government agencies were also hard hit. Two days afterwards thousands of U.S. troops arrived to aid in the earthquake relief effort and relief agencies are playing a large role in rebuilding Haiti's infrastructure, while taking care of the short-term emergency needs of the many injured and displaced Haitians. In October 2010 a cholera epidemic was identified, a disease thought to be accidentally introduced by aid workers from abroad. More than 3,500 people in a region to the north of Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince is the capital and largest city of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The city's population was 704,776 as of the 2003 census, and was officially estimated to have reached 897,859 in 2009....

 were treated for diarrhea
Diarrhea
Diarrhea , also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day. It is a common cause of death in developing countries and the second most common cause of infant deaths worldwide. The loss of fluids through diarrhea can cause dehydration and...

, acute fever
Fever
Fever is a common medical sign characterized by an elevation of temperature above the normal range of due to an increase in the body temperature regulatory set-point. This increase in set-point triggers increased muscle tone and shivering.As a person's temperature increases, there is, in...

, vomiting
Vomiting
Vomiting is the forceful expulsion of the contents of one's stomach through the mouth and sometimes the nose...

, and severe dehydration
Dehydration
In physiology and medicine, dehydration is defined as the excessive loss of body fluid. It is literally the removal of water from an object; however, in physiological terms, it entails a deficiency of fluid within an organism...

. There were fears the outbreak would reach camps housing survivors of the earthquake.
There were initial protests against the U.N. peacekeeping forces because of their suspected role in introducing cholera. These led to violent attacks on November 15, 2010. The cholera outbreak had, at that point, killed around 900 people, and sickened around 15,000. Many Haitian people alleged that the strain may have come from the Nepalese peacekeepers, who have a base on the Artibonite river, but the U.N. did not want the Haitian people to come to conclusions and blame the Nepalese based on "misinformation". The last cholera outbreak in Haiti was forty years ago, and "The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the cholera strain now ravaging the country matched a strain specific to South Asia, but said they had not pinpointed its origin or how it arrived in Haiti."

General elections had been planned for January 2010, but were postponed due to the earthquake. The elections were held on 28 November 2010 for senate, parliament and the first round of the presidential elections. The run-off between Michel Martelly and Mirlande Manigat
Mirlande Manigat
Mirlande Manigat is a Haitian politician and candidate in the 2010 presidential election. She is the wife of former president Leslie Manigat.-2010 presidential election:...

 took place on 20 March 2011, and preliminary results, released on 4 April, named Michel Martelly the winner.

Geography


Haiti is on the western part of Hispaniola
Hispaniola
Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...

, the second largest island in the Greater Antilles. Haiti is the third largest country in the Caribbean behind Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 and the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

 (the latter shares a 360 kilometres (224 mi) border with Haiti). Haiti at its closest point is only about 45 nmi (83 km; 52 mi) away from Cuba and has the second longest coastline (1771 km (1,100 mi)) in the Greater Antilles, Cuba having the longest. The country lies mostly between latitudes 18°
18th parallel north
The 18th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 18 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 20°N
20th parallel north
The 20th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 20 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, North America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean....

 (Tortuga island lies just north of 20°), and longitudes 71°
71st meridian west
The meridian 71° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, South America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 75°W
75th meridian west
The meridian 75° west of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, North America, the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, South America, the Pacific Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. Haiti's terrain consists mainly of rugged mountains interspersed with small coastal plains and river valleys.

The northern region consists of the Massif du Nord (Northern Massif) and the Plaine du Nord (Northern Plain). The Massif du Nord is an extension of the Cordillera Central in the Dominican Republic. It begins at Haiti's eastern border, north of the Guayamouc River
Guayamouc River
The Guayamouc River, Riviere Guayamouc, is a river in central and eastern Haiti. It rises on the Massif du Nord and flows generally southeast for 113 km into the Artibonite River at the border with the Dominican Republic. It is notable for producing the fertile plain of central Haiti. Notable...

, and extends to the northwest through the northern peninsula. The lowlands of the Plaine du Nord lie along the northern border with the Dominican Republic, between the Massif du Nord and the North Atlantic Ocean. The central region consists of two plains and two sets of mountain ranges. The Plateau Central (Central Plateau) extends along both sides of the Guayamouc River, south of the Massif du Nord. It runs from the southeast to the northwest. To the southwest of the Plateau Central are the Montagnes Noires, whose most northwestern part merges with the Massif du Nord. Its westernmost point is known as Cap Carcasse.

The southern region consists of the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac (the southeast) and the mountainous southern peninsula (also known as the Tiburon Peninsula). The Plaine du Cul-de-Sac is a natural depression that harbors the country's saline lakes, such as Trou Caïman
Trou Caïman
Trou Caïman , sometimes called Eau Gallée by locals, is a saltwater lake in Haiti known for its excellent birdwatching opportunities. The lake is 9 km long, 3 km wide, and approximately 16 km² in area...

 and Haiti's largest lake, Lac Azuéi
Etang Saumâtre
Étang Saumâtre is the largest lake in Haiti and the second largest lake in Hispaniola, after Lake Enriquillo. It is also known as Lac Azuéi ; it is called Lago del Fondo in the Dominican Republic...

. The Chaîne de la Selle
Chaîne de la Selle
Chaîne de la Selle is the name of a mountain chain in Haiti. Part of it is Pic la Selle, which is the highest point of Haiti at a height of 2,680 meters above sea level....

 mountain range – an extension of the southern mountain chain of the Dominican Republic (the Sierra de Baoruco) – extends from the Massif de la Selle in the east to the Massif de la Hotte
Massif de la Hotte
The Massif de la Hotte is a mountain range in southwestern Haiti, on the far-western end of the Tiburon Peninsula. The region is relatively remote and is one of the most biologically diverse and significant areas of all of Hispaniola. It also supports some of the last stands of Haiti's dense cloud...

 in the west. This mountain range harbors Pic la Selle
Pic la Selle
Pic la Selle , also called Morne La Selle, is the highest peak in Haiti with a height of 2,680 meters above sea level. The mountain is part of the Chaîne de la Selle mountain range. It is located in the Ouest administrative department....

, the highest point in Haiti at 2680 metres (8,793 ft) *

The country's most important valley in terms of crops is the Plaine de l'Artibonite, which is oriented south of the Montagnes Noires. This region supports the country's (also Hispaniola's) longest river, the Riviere l'Artibonite
Artibonite River
The Artibonite River is a 320 km long river in Haiti . It is the longest as well as the most important river in Haiti and the longest on the island of Hispaniola. Forming part of the international border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the river's sources are in the Cordillera Central in...

, which begins in the western region of the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

 and continues most of its length through central Haiti and onward where it empties into the Golfe de la Gonâve
Gulf of Gonâve
The Gulf of Gonâve is a large gulf along the western coast of Haiti. Haiti's capital city, Port-au-Prince, is located on the coast of the gulf. Other cities on the gulf coast include Gonaïves, Saint-Marc, Miragoâne, and Jérémie. Several islands are located in the gulf, the largest being Gonâve...

. The eastern and central region of the island is a large elevated plateau. Haiti also includes various offshore islands. The historically famous island of Tortuga (Île de la Tortue) is located off the coast of northern Haiti. The arrondissement
Arrondissement
Arrondissement is any of various administrative divisions of France, certain other Francophone countries, and the Netherlands.-France:The 101 French departments are divided into 342 arrondissements, which may be translated into English as districts. The capital of an arrondissement is called a...

 of La Gonâve
Gonâve Island
Gonâve Island is an island of Haiti located to the west-northwest of Port-au-Prince in the Gulf of Gonâve. It is the largest of the Hispaniolan satellite islands, situated off the mainland...

 is located on the island of the same name, in the Golfe de la Gonâve
Gulf of Gonâve
The Gulf of Gonâve is a large gulf along the western coast of Haiti. Haiti's capital city, Port-au-Prince, is located on the coast of the gulf. Other cities on the gulf coast include Gonaïves, Saint-Marc, Miragoâne, and Jérémie. Several islands are located in the gulf, the largest being Gonâve...

. Gonâve Island is moderately populated by rural villagers. Île à Vache
Île à Vache
Île à Vache is a small island lying off the south-west peninsula of Haiti near the town of Les Cayes. Administratively it is part of the Sud Department. It is about long, wide, with an area of...

 (Cow Island), a lush island with many beautiful sights, is located off the tip of southwestern Haiti. Also part of Haiti are the Cayemites
Cayemites
The Cayemites are a pair of islands located in the Gulf of Gonâve off the coast of southwest Haiti. The two islands, known individually as Grande Cayemite and Petite Cayemite, are a combined in area. Petite Cayemite lies just west of the larger island, Grande Cayemite...

 and Île d' Anacaona.

Environment

In 1925, Haiti was lush, with 60% of its original forest covering the lands and mountainous regions. Since then, the population has cut down an estimated 98% of its original forest cover for use as fuel for cookstoves, and in the process has destroyed fertile farmland soils, contributing to desertification
Desertification
Desertification is the degradation of land in drylands. Caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and human activities, desertification is one of the most significant global environmental problems.-Definitions:...

.

In addition to soil erosion
Erosion
Erosion is when materials are removed from the surface and changed into something else. It only works by hydraulic actions and transport of solids in the natural environment, and leads to the deposition of these materials elsewhere...

, deforestation
Deforestation
Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use. Examples of deforestation include conversion of forestland to farms, ranches, or urban use....

 has caused periodic flooding, as seen on 17 September 2004. Earlier that year in May, floods had killed over 3,000 people on Haiti's southern border with the Dominican Republic.

There has been little marine, coastal, and river basin management. Forest cover in the steep hills surrounding Haiti's river basin retains soil, which in turn retains water from rainfall, reducing river flood peaks and conserving flows in the dry season. But deforestation has resulted in much of the soil being released from the upper catchments. Many of Haiti's rivers are now highly unstable, changing rapidly from destructive flooding to inadequate flows.Scientists at the Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)  and the United Nations Environment Programme
United Nations Environment Programme
The United Nations Environment Programme coordinates United Nations environmental activities, assisting developing countries in implementing environmentally sound policies and practices. It was founded as a result of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in June 1972 and has its...

 are working on the Haiti Regenerative Initiative an initiative aiming to reduce poverty and natural disaster vulnerability in Haiti through ecosystem restoration and sustainable resource management.

Hurricanes and tropical storms

In 2004, Tropical Storm Jeanne skimmed the north coast of Haiti, leaving 3,006 people dead in flooding and mudslides, mostly in the city of Gonaïves
Gonaïves
Gonaïves is a city in northern Haiti, the capital of the Artibonite Department. It has a population of about 104,825 people . The city's name derives from the original Amerindian name of Gonaibo. It is also known as Haïti's "independence city"...

.

Haiti was again pummeled by tropical storms in late August and early September 2008. The storms – Tropical Storm Fay
Tropical Storm Fay (2008)
Tropical Storm Fay was a tropical storm and the sixth named storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. Fay formed from a vigorous tropical wave on August 15 over the Dominican Republic...

, Hurricane Gustav
Hurricane Gustav
The name Gustav has been used for five tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean:* 1984's Tropical Storm Gustav - Spent most of its existence as a tropical depression hovering over Bermuda, no major damage was reported....

, Hurricane Hanna and Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike was the second-costliest hurricane ever to make landfall in the United States, the costliest hurricane ever to impact Cuba and the second most active hurricane to reach the Canadian mainland in the Great Lakes Region after Hurricane Hazel in 1954...

 – all produced heavy winds and rain in Haiti. Due to weak soil conditions throughout Haiti, the country's mountainous terrain, and the devastating coincidence of four storms within less than four weeks, valley and lowland areas throughout the country experienced massive flooding. Casualties proved difficult to count because the storm diminished human capacity and physical resources for such record keeping. Bodies continued to surface as the flood waters receded. A 10 September 2008 source listed 331 dead and 800,000 in need of humanitarian aid. The grim state of affairs produced by these storms was all the more life threatening due to already high food and fuel prices that had caused a food crisis and political unrest in April 2008.

2010 earthquake

On January 12, 2010, at 21:53 UTC, (4:53 pm local time) Haiti was struck by a magnitude
Moment magnitude scale
The moment magnitude scale is used by seismologists to measure the size of earthquakes in terms of the energy released. The magnitude is based on the seismic moment of the earthquake, which is equal to the rigidity of the Earth multiplied by the average amount of slip on the fault and the size of...

-7.0 earthquake, the country's most severe earthquake in over 200 years. The epicenter of the quake was just outside the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince is the capital and largest city of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The city's population was 704,776 as of the 2003 census, and was officially estimated to have reached 897,859 in 2009....

. On 10 February the Haitian government gave a death toll of 230,000. Widespread damage resulted from the quake, and the capital city was devastated.

The Presidential Palace
National Palace (Haiti)
The National Palace is located in Port-au-Prince—facing Place L'Ouverture near the Champs de Mars—and is the official residence of the Haitian president. It was almost completely destroyed in the 2010 Haiti earthquake...

 was badly damaged, the second floor collapsing onto the first floor; the Haitian Parliament building, UN mission headquarters and the National Cathedral were also destroyed. International aid flowed in but was hampered by damaged infrastructure: the main port was damaged beyond immediate use, the one local airport was of limited capacity, and border crossings with the Dominican Republic were distant and crowded.
As many as one million Haitians were left homeless.

Haiti will need to be completely rebuilt from the ground up, according to a journalist, as "[e]ven in good times, Haiti is an economic wreck, balancing precariously on the razor's edge of calamity." Several international appeals were launched within days of the earthquake, including the Disasters Emergency Committee
Disasters Emergency Committee
The Disasters Emergency Committee is an umbrella group comprising fourteen UK charities. These charities are all associated with disaster related issues such as providing clean water, humanitarian aid and medical care....

 in the United Kingdom, Young Artists for Haiti (Canada) and Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief
Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief
Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief was a charity telethon held on January 22, 2010 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern Standard Time . The telethon was the most widely distributed telethon in history...

 based in the USA, which was a global effort to raise relief funds by way of a charity telethon held on January 22, 2010. International officials are looking at the short and long term priorities while continuing the daily task of managing the emergency situation. As of September 2010, there were over one million refugees living in tent
Tent
A tent is a shelter consisting of sheets of fabric or other material draped over or attached to a frame of poles or attached to a supporting rope. While smaller tents may be free-standing or attached to the ground, large tents are usually anchored using guy ropes tied to stakes or tent pegs...

s and the humanitarian situation was characterized as still being in the emergency phase.

On May 31, 2011, BBC News reported that a new report challenges Haiti's official earthquake death toll. "Significantly fewer people died or were left homeless by last year's earthquake in Haiti than claimed by the country's leaders, a draft report commissioned by the US government has said. The unpublished report puts the death toll between 46,000 and 85,000. (Haiti's government says about 316,000 died.) It also suggests many of those still living in tent cities did not lose their homes in the disaster. The draft report, which has yet to be released publicly, is based on a survey commissioned by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and draws its numbers from door-to-door surveys carried out over 29 days in January 2011."

Demographics

Although Haiti averages approximately 250 people per square kilometer (650 per sq mi.), its population is concentrated most heavily in urban areas, coastal plains, and valleys. Haiti's population was about 9.8 million according to UN 2008 estimates, with half of the population being under 20 years. The first formal census, taken in 1950, showed that the population was 3.1 million.

85% of Haitians (depending on the source because the Haitian government does not conduct a census) are of African and indigenous Taíno descent; the remaining 15-20% of the population are mostly of mixed-race
Mulatto
Mulatto denotes a person with one white parent and one black parent, or more broadly, a person of mixed black and white ancestry. Contemporary usage of the term varies greatly, and the broader sense of the term makes its application rather subjective, as not all people of mixed white and black...

 background. A small percentage of the non-black population consists primarily of White Haitians; mostly of Western European (French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

, German, Polish, Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

 and Spanish
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

), and Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

, Armenian
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

,or Jewish origin. Haitians of east Asian descent or East Indian
Marabou
Marabou can refer to:* Marabou Stork, a large bird in the stork family Ciconiidae* Marabou , a Swedish chocolate brand* Marabou , a historical term for a multiracial person in Haiti...

 origin number approximately 400.

Haitian diaspora

Millions of Haitians live abroad in: the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, United States, Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

, Canada (primarily Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

), Bahamas, France, French Antilles, the Turks and Caicos, Jamaica
Jamaica
Jamaica is an island nation of the Greater Antilles, in length, up to in width and 10,990 square kilometres in area. It is situated in the Caribbean Sea, about south of Cuba, and west of Hispaniola, the island harbouring the nation-states Haiti and the Dominican Republic...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

 and French Guiana
French Guiana
French Guiana is an overseas region of France, consisting of a single overseas department located on the northern Atlantic coast of South America. It has borders with two nations, Brazil to the east and south, and Suriname to the west...

. There are an estimated 800,000 in the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

, 600,000 Haitians in the United States, 100,000 in Canada, 80,000 in France, and up to 80,000 in the Bahamas.

Languages

One of Haiti's two official languages is French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, which is the principal written and administratively authorized language. It is spoken by all educated Haitians, is spoken in schools, and is used in the business sector. It is also used in ceremonial events such as weddings, graduations and church masses. The second is the recently standardized Haitian Creole, which is spoken by virtually the entire population of Haiti. Haitian Creole is one of the French-based creole languages
French-based creole languages
A French Creole, or French-based Creole language, is a creole language based on the French language, more specifically on a 17th century koiné French extant in Paris, the French Atlantic harbors, and the nascent French colonies...

. It is closely related to French, but is also influenced by African languages. Haitian Creole is related to the other French creoles, but most closely to Louisiana Creole
Louisiana Creole French
Louisiana Creole is a French Creole language spoken by the Louisiana Creole people of the state of Louisiana. The language consists of elements of French, Spanish, African, and Native American roots.-Geography:...

.

Religion

Haiti is a majority Christian country, with strong roots in Roman Catholicism. Around 80% of Haitians profess to be Catholics. Protestants make up about 16% of the population.

Government

The government of Haiti is a semi-presidential
Semi-presidential system
The semi-presidential system is a system of government in which a president and a prime minister are both active participants in the day-to-day administration of the state...

 republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

, a multiparty system wherein the President of Haiti
President of Haiti
The President of the Republic of Haiti is the head of state of Haiti. Executive power in Haiti is divided between the president and the government headed by the Prime Minister of Haiti...

 is head of state elected directly by popular elections
Elections in Haïti
Elections in Haiti gives information on election and election results in Haiti.The current president is René Préval, who received 51 percent of the votes in the 2005 elections...

. The Prime Minister acts as head of government and is appointed by the President, chosen from the majority party in the National Assembly. Executive power is exercised by the President and Prime Minister who together constitute the government.

Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the National Assembly of Haiti
National Assembly of Haïti
The Parliament of Haiti is the legislature of the Republic of Haiti. It sits at the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The Parliament is bicameral, the upper house being the Senate of Haiti and the lower house being the Chamber of Deputies of Haiti....

. The government is organized unitarily
Unitary state
A unitary state is a state governed as one single unit in which the central government is supreme and any administrative divisions exercise only powers that their central government chooses to delegate...

, thus the central government delegates powers to the departments without a constitutional need for consent. The current structure of Haiti's political system was set forth in the Constitution of Haiti
Constitution of Haïti
The Constitution of Haiti most commonly refers to the present-day Constitution of Haiti, which was modeled after those of the United States and of France. The document was ratified in March 1987, but it was completely suspended from June 1988 to March 1989 and was only fully reinstated in October...

 on 29 March 1987. The current president is Michel Martelly.

In 2010, there were 7,000 people in the Haitian National Police.

The Institute for the Protection of National Heritage
Institut de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine National
The Institut de Sauvegarde du Patrimoine National, the Haitian Institute for the Protection of National Heritage, was founded in 1979 and has since been active...

 has preserved 33 historical monuments and the historic center of Cap-Haïtien.

The legal system for torts is based on a version of the Napoleonic Code
Napoleonic code
The Napoleonic Code — or Code Napoléon — is the French civil code, established under Napoléon I in 1804. The code forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified...

.

Departments, arrondissements, and communes

For reasons of administration, Haiti has been divided into ten departments
Departments of Haiti
The Communes of Haiti are the third-level divisions of Haiti. The 10 departments have 42 arrondissements which are divided into 140 communes.-Artibonite Department:*Dessalines Arrondissement**Desdunes**Dessalines**Grande Saline...

. The departments are listed below, with the departmental capital cities in parentheses.

  1. Artibonite
    Artibonite Department
    Artibonite is one of the ten departments of Haiti. With an area of 4,984 km² it is Haiti's largest department. Artibonite has a population of 1,168,800 . The region is the country's main rice-growing area. The main cities are Gonaïves and Saint-Marc...

     (Gonaïves
    Gonaïves
    Gonaïves is a city in northern Haiti, the capital of the Artibonite Department. It has a population of about 104,825 people . The city's name derives from the original Amerindian name of Gonaibo. It is also known as Haïti's "independence city"...

    )
  2. Centre
    Centre Department
    Centre is one of the ten departments of Haiti, located in the center of the country, along the border with the Dominican Republic. It has an area of 3,675 km² and a population of 564,200 . Its capital is Hinche. It borders the Dominican Republic to the east. It is the only landlocked...

     (Hinche
    Hinche
    Hinche is a city in central Haiti. It has a population of about 50,000. It is the capital of Centre department. Hinche is the hometown of Charlemagne Péralte, the Haitian nationalist leader who resisted the United States occupation of Haïti .-Culture:The majority of the population are of African...

    )
  3. Grand'Anse
    Grand'Anse Department
    Grand'Anse is one of the ten administrative departments of Haiti. Its capital is Jérémie.-History:...

     (Jérémie
    Jérémie
    Jérémie is the capital city of the department of Grand'Anse, in Haiti, with a population of about 31,000 . It is almost isolated from the rest of the country...

    )
  4. Nippes
    Nippes Department
    Nippes is the newest department of Haiti, having been split from Grand'Anse Department in 2003. The capital of the department is Miragoâne.The department is divided into three arrondissements:* Miragoâne Arrondissement...

     (Miragoâne
    Miragoane
    Miragoâne is a coastal town in western Haïti and the capital of the Nippes Department. It is regarded as one of the major ports in the trade in used goods. Bales of used clothing, shoes, appliances and used cars arrive at the port from Miami and other U.S. cities. Local merchants in the informal...

    )
  5. Nord (Cap-Haïtien
    Cap-Haïtien
    Cap-Haïtien is a city of about 190,000 people on the north coast of Haiti and capital of the Department of Nord...

    )
  6. Nord-Est
    Nord-Est Department
    Nord-Est is one of the ten departments of Haiti. It has an area of 1,805 km² and a population of 283,800 . Its capital is Fort-Liberté. It used to be part of Nord Department...

     (Fort-Liberté
    Fort-Liberté
    Fort-Liberté is the administrative capital of the Nord-Est Department, Haiti. It is close to the border of the Dominican Republic and is one of the oldest cities in the country. Haiti's independence was proclaimed here on November 29, 1803. The area around Fort-Liberté was originally inhabited by...

    )
  7. Nord-Ouest
    Nord-Ouest Department
    Nord-Ouest is one of the ten departments of Haiti as well as the northernmost one. It has an area of 2,176 km² and a population of 445,080 . Its capital is Port-de-Paix....

     (Port-de-Paix
    Port-de-Paix
    Port-de-Paix is a city and the capital of the département of Nord-Ouest in Haïti on the Atlantic coast. It has a population of 250,000 ....

    )
  8. Ouest
    Ouest Department
    Ouest is one of the ten departments of Haiti. It is the jurisdictional seat of the national capital, the city of Port-au-Prince. It has an area of and a population of 3,093,698 . It borders the Dominican Republic to the east.It is the second largest department in Haiti after the Artibonite...

     (Port-au-Prince
    Port-au-Prince
    Port-au-Prince is the capital and largest city of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The city's population was 704,776 as of the 2003 census, and was officially estimated to have reached 897,859 in 2009....

    )
  9. Sud-Est
    Sud-Est Department
    Sud-Est is one of the ten departments of Haiti. It has an area of 2,023 km² and a population of 518,200 . Its capital is Jacmel...

     (Jacmel
    Jacmel
    Jacmel, also known by its indigenous Taíno name of Yaquimel, is a town in southern Haiti founded in 1698. It is the capital of the department of Sud-Est and has an estimated population of 40,000, while the municipality of Jacmel had a population of 137,966 at the 2003 Census.The buildings are...

    )
  10. Sud
    Sud Department
    Sud is one of the ten departments of Haiti. It has an area of and a population of 745,000 . Its capital is Les Cayes. A large part of the population of Haitians in this department is of mixed race, mulattoes along with other mixtures such as Arabs and East Indians...

     (Les Cayes
    Les Cayes
    Les Cayes , is a town and seaport in southwestern Haiti, with a population of approximately 45,904 people . Estimates from 2008 place the population at close to 70,000 people...

    )

The departments are further divided into 41 arrondissement
Arrondissement
Arrondissement is any of various administrative divisions of France, certain other Francophone countries, and the Netherlands.-France:The 101 French departments are divided into 342 arrondissements, which may be translated into English as districts. The capital of an arrondissement is called a...

s, and 133 communes, which serve as second- and third-level administrative divisions.

Politics

Haitian politics have been contentious: in its 200-year history, Haiti has suffered 32 coups. Haiti's is the only country in the Western Hemisphere to undergo a successful slave revolution
Haitian Revolution
The Haitian Revolution was a period of conflict in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, which culminated in the elimination of slavery there and the founding of the Haitian republic...

, but a long history of oppression by dictators – including François Duvalier
François Duvalier
François Duvalier was the President of Haiti from 1957 until his death in 1971. Duvalier first won acclaim in fighting diseases, earning him the nickname "Papa Doc" . He opposed a military coup d'état in 1950, and was elected President in 1957 on a populist and black nationalist platform...

 and his son Jean-Claude Duvalier
Jean-Claude Duvalier
Jean-Claude Duvalier, nicknamed "Bébé Doc" or "Baby Doc" was the President of Haiti from 1971 until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986. He succeeded his father, François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, as the ruler of Haiti upon his father's death in 1971...

 – has markedly affected the nation. France and the United States have repeatedly intervened in Haitian politics since the country's founding, sometimes at the request of one party or another.

According to a Corruption Perceptions Index
Corruption Perceptions Index
Since 1995, Transparency International publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index annually ranking countries "by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys." The CPI generally defines corruption as "the misuse of public power for private...

 report in 2006, there is a strong correlation between corruption and poverty and Haiti ranked first of all countries surveyed for of levels of perceived domestic corruption. The International Red Cross reports that seven out of ten Haitians live on less than US$2 a day.

Cité Soleil
Cité Soleil
Cité Soleil is an extremely impoverished and densely populated commune located in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area in Haiti. Cité Soleil originally developed as a shanty town and grew to an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 residents, the majority of whom live in extreme poverty...

, Haiti's largest slum in the capital of Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince is the capital and largest city of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The city's population was 704,776 as of the 2003 census, and was officially estimated to have reached 897,859 in 2009....

, has been called "the most dangerous place on Earth" by the United Nations. The slum is a stronghold of supporters of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a Haitian former Catholic priest and politician who served as Haiti's first democratically elected president. A proponent of liberation theology, Aristide was appointed to a parish in Port-au-Prince in 1982 after completing his studies...

, who, according to the BBC, "accused the US of forcing him out – an accusation the US rejected as 'absurd'".

Jean-Claude Duvalier
Jean-Claude Duvalier
Jean-Claude Duvalier, nicknamed "Bébé Doc" or "Baby Doc" was the President of Haiti from 1971 until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986. He succeeded his father, François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, as the ruler of Haiti upon his father's death in 1971...

 suddenly returned to Haiti in late January 2011, claiming his doing so was out of concern for the present situation in Haiti. On the other hand, Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a Haitian former Catholic priest and politician who served as Haiti's first democratically elected president. A proponent of liberation theology, Aristide was appointed to a parish in Port-au-Prince in 1982 after completing his studies...

 was initially denied access to Haiti by Haitian immigration authorities, despite issuing appeals to his supporters, and to international observers, to be able to do so. The world's most prominent governments did not overtly oppose such appeals, nor did they support them; an unnamed analyst 'close to the Haitian government' who was repeatedly quoted in several media sources including the New York Times, is reported to have commented, "Aristide could have 15 passports and he's still not going to come back to Haiti. ...France and the United States are standing in the way." However, Aristide finally returned to Haiti just days before the 2011 Presidential election, on March 18, 2011.

Elections

The first round of the 2010 Haiti Elections
Haitian general election, 2010
The Haitian general election, originally scheduled in Haiti for 28 February 2010, was postponed to 28 November. Ten senators and all 99 deputies were to be elected....

, was held in December and qualified Mirlande Manigat
Mirlande Manigat
Mirlande Manigat is a Haitian politician and candidate in the 2010 presidential election. She is the wife of former president Leslie Manigat.-2010 presidential election:...

 and Jude Celestin
Jude Célestin
Jude Célestin is a Haitian politician who was a candidate in the 2010 presidential election. After an education in Port-au-Prince, Célestin studied mechanical engineering in Switzerland...

 for the second round, but the results of the election were contested. Some people said that the first round was a fraud, and that Michel Martelly should be in the place of Jude Celestin, René Préval's chosen successor. There was some violence between the contending parties.

On April 4, 2011 the Provisional Electoral Council announced preliminary results that Martelly had won the presidential election.

Economy

Haiti's economy is still recovering from the massive earthquake in January 2010. Its purchasing power parity GDP fell 8% in 2010 (from $12.15 billion to $11.18 billion) and the GDP per capita remained unchanged at (PPP US$) 1,200. Comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti falling behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s. Haiti ranked 145 of 182 countries in the 2010 United Nations Human Development Index
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

, with 57.3% of the population being deprived in at least three of the HDI's poverty measures.

The World Factbook
The World Factbook
The World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official paper copy version is available from the National Technical Information Service and the Government Printing Office...

reports a shortage of skilled labor, widespread unemployment and underemployment, saying "more than two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs", and describes pre-earthquake Haiti as "already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty." Most Haitians live on $2 or less per day.

Adult literacy is variously reported as 52.9% [World Factbook] and 65.3% [United Nations], and the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 estimates that in 2004 over 80% of college graduates from Haiti were living abroad, with their remittances
Remittances
A remittance is a transfer of money by a foreign worker to his or her home country. Note that in 19th century usage a remittance man was someone exiled overseas and sent an allowance on condition that he not return home....

 home representing 52.7% of Haiti's GDP. Cité Soleil
Cité Soleil
Cité Soleil is an extremely impoverished and densely populated commune located in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area in Haiti. Cité Soleil originally developed as a shanty town and grew to an estimated 200,000 to 400,000 residents, the majority of whom live in extreme poverty...

 is considered one of the worst slum
Slum
A slum, as defined by United Nations agency UN-HABITAT, is a run-down area of a city characterized by substandard housing and squalor and lacking in tenure security. According to the United Nations, the percentage of urban dwellers living in slums decreased from 47 percent to 37 percent in the...

s in the Americas, most of its 500,000 residents live in extreme poverty
Poverty
Poverty is the lack of a certain amount of material possessions or money. Absolute poverty or destitution is inability to afford basic human needs, which commonly includes clean and fresh water, nutrition, health care, education, clothing and shelter. About 1.7 billion people are estimated to live...

. Poverty has forced at least 225,000 Haitian children to work as restavec
Restavec
A restavec is a child in Haiti who is sent by their parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant because the parents lack the resources required to support the child...

s (unpaid household servants); the United Nations considers this to be a modern-day form of slavery.

About 66% of all Haitians work in the agricultural sector, which consists mainly of small-scale subsistence farming, but this activity makes up only 30% of the GDP. The country has experienced little formal job-creation over the past decade, although the informal economy
Informal economy
The informal sector or informal economy as defined by governments, scholars, banks, etc. is the part of an economy that is not taxed, monitored by any form of government, or included in any gross national product , unlike the formal economy....

 is growing. Mango
Mango
The mango is a fleshy stone fruit belonging to the genus Mangifera, consisting of numerous tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. The mango is native to India from where it spread all over the world. It is also the most cultivated fruit of the tropical world. While...

es and coffee
Coffee
Coffee is a brewed beverage with a dark,init brooo acidic flavor prepared from the roasted seeds of the coffee plant, colloquially called coffee beans. The beans are found in coffee cherries, which grow on trees cultivated in over 70 countries, primarily in equatorial Latin America, Southeast Asia,...

 are two of Haiti's most important exports.

Natural resources of Haiti include bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble and hydropower. Haiti contains relatively small amounts of gold, silver, antimony, tin, lignite, sulphur, coal, nickel, gypsum, limestone, manganese, marble, iron, tungsten, salt, clay, and various building stones. Gold and copper are found in small quantities in the north of the country. The government announced the discovery of new gold deposits in the northern peninsula in 1985, but long-standing plans for gold production proceeded slowly. Copper also was mined, beginning in the 1960s, but production of the ore was sporadic. There are bauxite (aluminum ore) deposits on the southern peninsula, but large scale mining there was discontinued in 1983. The country's only bauxite mine, the Miragoâne mine in the southern peninsula, produced an average of 500,000 tons of bauxite a year in the early 1980s; however, in 1982 the declining metal content of the ore, high production costs, and the oversupplied international bauxite market forced the mine to close. Bauxite had at one time been the country's second leading export. Haiti apparently has no hydrocarbon resources on land or in the Gulf of Gonâve and is therefore heavily dependent on energy imports (petroleum and petroleum products).

Haiti's richest 1% own nearly half the country's wealth. Haiti has consistently ranked among the most corrupt countries in the world on the Corruption Perceptions Index
Corruption Perceptions Index
Since 1995, Transparency International publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index annually ranking countries "by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys." The CPI generally defines corruption as "the misuse of public power for private...

. Since the day of "Papa Doc" Duvalier, Haiti's government has been notorious for its corruption. It is estimated that President "Baby Doc" Duvalier
Jean-Claude Duvalier
Jean-Claude Duvalier, nicknamed "Bébé Doc" or "Baby Doc" was the President of Haiti from 1971 until his overthrow by a popular uprising in 1986. He succeeded his father, François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, as the ruler of Haiti upon his father's death in 1971...

, his wife Michelle
Michèle Bennett
Michèle Bennett is the ex-wife of former President for Life of Haiti, Jean-Claude Duvalier. From 1980 to 1986 she was the First Lady of Haiti. She fled to exile in France with her deposed husband aboard a U.S. Air Force plane and has remained there since...

, and three other people took $504 million from the Haitian public treasury between 1971 and 1986.

Similarly, some media outlets alleged that millions were stolen by former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide is a Haitian former Catholic priest and politician who served as Haiti's first democratically elected president. A proponent of liberation theology, Aristide was appointed to a parish in Port-au-Prince in 1982 after completing his studies...

. However the accuracy of the information is questionable and may have been concocted to discredit Aristide. In March 2004, at the time of Aristide's being kidnapped
Kidnapping
In criminal law, kidnapping is the taking away or transportation of a person against that person's will, usually to hold the person in false imprisonment, a confinement without legal authority...

, a BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

 article wrote that the Bush administration State department claimed that Aristide had been involved in drug trafficking. The BBC also described pyramid scheme
Pyramid scheme
A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves promising participants payment or services, primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, rather than supplying any real investment or sale of products or services to the public...

s, in which Haitians lost hundreds of millions in 2002, as the "only real economic initiative" of the Aristide years. However this cannot necessarily be entirely blamed on Aristide since one of his conditions upon being returned to Haiti by the Clinton administration during the 90s was that he not stir the pot away from US Free Market Trade Policies. Clinton recently expressed regret and apologized for the US's trade policies with Haiti Aristide however decided against being further tied to the free market policies that he was restricted to, and he attempted to raise the country's minimum wage.

Foreign aid
Foreign aid to Haïti
- US aid to Haiti :The USA is the largest foreign source of relief aid to Haiti from the 2010 Haiti earthquake.USA, through USAID is giving more than $712 million in aid. However, this money is comprised by the donations of many non-governmental organizations such as World Vision and the Red Cross...

 makes up approximately 30–40% of the national government's budget. The largest donor is the US, followed by Canada and the European Union. From 1990 to 2003, Haiti received more than $4 billion in aid. The United States alone had provided Haiti with 1.5 billion in aid. Venezuela and Cuba also make various contributions to Haiti's economy, especially after alliances were renewed in 2006 and 2007. In January 2010, China promised $4.2 million for the quake-hit island. US President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 pledged $1.15 billion in assistance. European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 nations promised more than 400 million euro
Euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

s ($616 million) in emergency aid and reconstruction funds.

US aid to the Haitian government was completely cut off from 2001 to 2004, after the 2000 election was disputed and President Aristide was accused of various misdeeds. After Aristide's departure in 2004, aid was restored, and the Brazilian army
Brazilian Army
The Brazilian Army is the land arm of the Brazilian Military. The Brazilian Army has fought in several international conflicts, mostly in South America and during the 19th century, such as the Brazilian War of Independence , Argentina-Brazil War , War of the Farrapos , Platine War , Uruguayan War ...

 led the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
The United Nations Stabilisation Mission In Haiti , also known as MINUSTAH, an acronym of the French translation, is a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti that has been in operation since 2004. The mission's military component is led by the Brazilian Army and the force commander is...

 peacekeeping operation. Following almost 4 years of recession ending in 2004, the economy grew by 1.5% in 2005.

In 2005 Haiti's total external debt reached an estimated US$1.3 billion, which corresponds to a debt per capita of US$169. In September 2009, Haiti met the conditions set out by the IMF and World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
Heavily Indebted Poor Countries is a group of 40 developing countries with high levels of poverty and debt overhang which are eligible for special assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.- History and structure :...

 program to qualify for cancellation of its external debt.

Roadways

Haiti has two main highway
Highway
A highway is any public road. In American English, the term is common and almost always designates major roads. In British English, the term designates any road open to the public. Any interconnected set of highways can be variously referred to as a "highway system", a "highway network", or a...

s that run from one end of the country to the other. The northern highway, Route Nationale #1 (National Highway One), originates in Port-au-Prince, winding through the coastal towns of Montrouis
Montrouis
Montrouis is a coastal town in western Haïti. It is located at around in the Ouest Department. Montrouis is also one of the most important beach tourism destinations in Haiti, with several well renowned hotels and resorts, including le Moulin-sur-Mer. The town is located on the Cotes des Arcadins,...

 and Gonaïves
Gonaïves
Gonaïves is a city in northern Haiti, the capital of the Artibonite Department. It has a population of about 104,825 people . The city's name derives from the original Amerindian name of Gonaibo. It is also known as Haïti's "independence city"...

, before reaching its terminus at the northern port Cap-Haïtien
Cap-Haïtien
Cap-Haïtien is a city of about 190,000 people on the north coast of Haiti and capital of the Department of Nord...

. The southern highway, Route Nationale #2, links Port-au-Prince with Les Cayes
Les Cayes
Les Cayes , is a town and seaport in southwestern Haiti, with a population of approximately 45,904 people . Estimates from 2008 place the population at close to 70,000 people...

 via Léogâne
Léogane
Léogâne is a seaside town in Ouest Department, Haïti. It is located in the eponymous arrondissement, the Léogâne Arrondissement. The port town is located about West of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The town was at the epicenter of the 12 January 2010 earthquake, and was catastrophically...

 and Petit-Goâve.

According to the Washington Post, "Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Saturday [January 23, 2010] that they assessed the damage from the Jan. 12 quake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and found that many of the roads aren’t any worse than they were before because they’ve always been in poor condition."

Water

The port
Port
A port is a location on a coast or shore containing one or more harbors where ships can dock and transfer people or cargo to or from land....

 at Port-au-Prince, Port international de Port-au-Prince
Port international de Port-au-Prince
The is the seaport in the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince. It suffered catastrophic damage in the 2010 Haiti earthquake.Some of docks and warehouses are operated by the government's Autorité Portuaire Nationale , and some are run by private companies.- History :On 13 June 1872, a German fleet...

, has more registered shipping
Shipping
Shipping has multiple meanings. It can be a physical process of transporting commodities and merchandise goods and cargo, by land, air, and sea. It also can describe the movement of objects by ship.Land or "ground" shipping can be by train or by truck...

 than any of the other dozen ports in the country. The port's facilities include crane
Crane (machine)
A crane is a type of machine, generally equipped with a hoist, wire ropes or chains, and sheaves, that can be used both to lift and lower materials and to move them horizontally. It uses one or more simple machines to create mechanical advantage and thus move loads beyond the normal capability of...

s, large berth
Berth (moorings)
A berth is a location in a port or harbour used specifically for mooring vessels while not at sea.-Locations in a port:Berth is the term used in ports and harbors to define a specific location where a vessel may be berthed, usually for the purposes of loading and unloading.Most berths will be...

s, and warehouse
Warehouse
A warehouse is a commercial building for storage of goods. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport businesses, customs, etc. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial areas of cities and towns. They usually have loading docks to load and unload...

s, but these facilities are not in good condition. The port is underused, possibly due to the substantially high port fees, compared to ports in the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

. The port of Saint-Marc
Saint-Marc
Saint-Marc is a coastal port town in western Haiti in the Artibonite Department. Its geographic coordinates are . At the 2003 Census the municipality had 160,181 inhabitants....

 is currently the preferred port of entry for consumer goods coming into Haiti. Reasons for this may include its location away from volatile and congested
Traffic congestion
Traffic congestion is a condition on road networks that occurs as use increases, and is characterized by slower speeds, longer trip times, and increased vehicular queueing. The most common example is the physical use of roads by vehicles. When traffic demand is great enough that the interaction...

 Port-au-Prince, as well as its central location relative to numerous Haitian cities.

During the 2010 Earthquake, the Port-au-Prince port suffered widespread damage, impeding aid to the victims. The main pier caved in and fell into the water. One of the main cranes also collapsed in the water. Port access roads were severely damaged as well.

Air

Toussaint Louverture International Airport is located 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) North/North East of Port-au-Prince. It has Haiti's main jetway
Jetway
A jet bridge is an enclosed, movable connector which extends from an airport terminal gate to an airplane, allowing passengers to board and disembark without having to go outside...

, and as such, handles the vast majority of the country's international flights. To travel on from the international airport at Port-au-Prince to other Haitian cities requires boarding a smaller plane. Cities such as Jacmel, Jérémie, Les Cayes, Cap-Haïtien, and Port-de-Paix have airports that are accessible only by smaller aircraft. Companies that fly to these airports include: Caribintair
Caribintair
Caribintair is an airline that flew domestic and international routes from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. It was established in 1989. Operations stopped in April 2009....

, Sunrise Airways
Sunrise Airways
Sunrise Airways, founded in 2010, is an airline in Haiti that now provides charter flights. Sunrise Airways specializes in passenger charters, ad-hoc charter flights, chains of charter flights, and wet lease of its aircraft....

 and Tortug' Air
Tortug' Air
Tortug' Air is a domestic airline in Haiti, and serves as Haiti's national flag carrier. The airline was founded in March 2003 and is based in Port-au-Prince. According to the airline, more than 200 people are employed with the company....

.

Rail

In the past, Haiti used rail transport, but, today, railroads are no longer in use, due to their replacement by other forms of transportation.

Health

Half of the children in Haiti are unvaccinated
Vaccine
A vaccine is a biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease. A vaccine typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism, and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe or its toxins...

; only 40% of the population has access to basic health care. Prior to the 2010 earthquake, nearly half of all Haitian deaths were attributed to HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, meningitis
Meningitis
Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms, and less commonly by certain drugs...

 and diarrhea
Diarrhea
Diarrhea , also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day. It is a common cause of death in developing countries and the second most common cause of infant deaths worldwide. The loss of fluids through diarrhea can cause dehydration and...

l diseases, according to the World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

. Ninety percent of Haiti's children suffer from waterborne diseases and intestinal parasite
Intestinal parasite
Intestinal parasites are parasites that populate the gastro-intestinal tract in humans and other animals. They can live throughout the body, but most prefer the intestinal wall. Means of exposure include: ingestion of undercooked meat, drinking infected water, and skin absorption...

s. HIV
HIV
Human immunodeficiency virus is a lentivirus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome , a condition in humans in which progressive failure of the immune system allows life-threatening opportunistic infections and cancers to thrive...

 infection is found in 2.2% of Haiti's adult population. The incidence of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

 (TB) in Haiti is more than ten times as high as in the rest of Latin America. Approximately 30,000 people in Haiti suffer each year from malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

.

Most people living in Haiti are at high risk for major infectious diseases. Food or waterborne diseases include bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever; common vectorborne diseases are dengue fever and malaria; water contact
diseases include leptospirosis. Roughly 75% of Haitian households lack running water. Unsafe water, along with inadequate housing and unsanitary living conditions, contributes to the high incidence of infectious diseases. There is a chronic shortage of health care personnel, and hospitals lack resources, a situation that became readily apparent after the January 2010
earthquake.

Education

The educational system of Haiti is based on the French system
Education in France
The French educational system is highly centralized, organized, and ramified. It is divided into three different stages:* the primary education ;* secondary education ;...

. Higher education, under the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, is provided by universities and other public and private institutions. Haiti counts 15,200 primary schools, of which 90% are non-public and managed by communities, religious organizations or NGOs. The enrollment rate for primary school is 67%, and fewer than 30% reach 6th grade. Secondary schools enroll 20% of eligible-age children. Charity organizations, including Food for the Poor and Haitian Health Foundation
Haitian Health Foundation
The Haitian Health Foundation is a U.S. 501 nonprofit organization that provides relief services to residents of rural southwest Haiti. It has four major areas of focus: health care, development, relief, and education....

, are building schools for children and providing necessary school supplies. Haiti's literacy rate is 52.9%.

The January, 2010 earthquake was a major setback for education reform in Haiti. Literacy levels remain near 50 percent. Haiti is one of the lowest-ranked countries in the world, 177th out of 186, for national spending on education.

Many reformers have advocated the creation of a free, public and universal education system for all primary school-age students in Haiti. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that the government will need at least $3 billion USD to create an adequately funded system.

Culture

Haiti has a long and storied history and therefore retains a rich culture. Haitian culture is a mixture of primarily French, African elements, and native Taíno, with influence from the colonial Spanish. The country's customs essentially are a blend of cultural beliefs that derived from the various ethnic groups that inhabited the island of Hispaniola. In nearly all aspects of modern Haitian society however, the European and African elements dominate. Haiti is world famous for its distinctive art
Haitian art
Haitian art is a complex tradition, reflecting African, French, Catholic, and tribal and Vodou roots. It as an important representation of Haitian culture and history....

, notably painting and sculpture.

The music of Haiti
Music of Haiti
The music of Haiti is influenced mostly by Europe, colonial ties, and African migration through slavery. European musical influence derived primarily from the French and by the Spanish-infused influence of Cuba and the bordering Dominican Republic. Styles unique to Haiti include music derived from...

 is influenced mostly by European colonial ties and African migration (through slavery). In the case of European colonization, musical influence has derived primarily from the French, however Haitian music has been influenced to a significant extent by its Spanish-speaking neighbors, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, whose Spanish-infused music has contributed much to the country's musical genres as well. Styles of music unique to the nation of Haiti include music derived from Voodoo ceremonial traditions, Rara parading music, troubadour ballads, and the wildly popular Compas.

Compas (in French) or Konpa (in Creole) is a complex, ever-changing music that arose from African rhythms and European ballroom dancing, mixed with Haiti's bourgeois culture. It is a refined music, played with an underpinning of tipico, and méringue (related to Dominican merengue) as a basic rhythm. Haiti had no recorded music until 1937 when Jazz Guignard
Jazz Guignard
Jazz Guignard was a popular Haitian jazz musician in the 1930s. He was distinguished by his completion of one of the first noncommercial recordings of Haitian music....

 was recorded non-commercially. One of the most popular Haitian artists is Wyclef Jean
Wyclef Jean
Wyclef Jean is a Haitian musician, record producer, and politician. At age nine, Jean moved to the United States with his family and has spent much of his life in the country...

. Wyclef Jean, however, left the country before his teenage years. His music is somewhat hip-hop mixed with world music.

Brilliant colors, naive perspective and sly humor characterize Haitian art
Haitian art
Haitian art is a complex tradition, reflecting African, French, Catholic, and tribal and Vodou roots. It as an important representation of Haitian culture and history....

. Frequent subjects in Haitian art include big, delectable foods, lush landscapes, market activities, jungle animals, rituals, dances, and gods. Artists frequently paint in fables. People are disguised as animals and animals are transformed into people. In a mostly illiterate land, symbols take on great meaning. For example, a rooster often represents Aristide and the red and blue colors of the Haitian flag often represent his Lavalas party. Many artists cluster in ‘schools’ of painting, such as the Cap-Haïtien school, which features depictions of daily life in the city, the Jacmel School, which reflects the steep mountains and bays of that coastal town, or the Saint-Soleil School, which is characterized by abstracted human forms and is heavily influenced by Voodoo symbolism.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Haiti originates from several culinary styles from the various historical ethnic groups that populated the western portion of the island of Hispaniola, namely the French, African, and the Taíno. Haitian cuisine is similar to the rest of the Latin-Caribbean (the French and the Spanish-speaking countries of the Antilles) however it differs in several ways from its regional counterparts. Its primary influence derive from French cuisine
French cuisine
French cuisine is a style of food preparation originating from France that has developed from centuries of social change. In the Middle Ages, Guillaume Tirel , a court chef, authored Le Viandier, one of the earliest recipe collections of Medieval France...

, and African cuisine, with notable derivatives from native Taíno and Spanish culinary technique. Though similar to other cooking styles in the region, it carries a uniqueness native only to the country and an appeal to many visitors to the island. Haitians often use pepper
Capsicum
Capsicum is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its species are native to the Americas where they have been cultivated for thousands of years, but they are now also cultivated worldwide, used as spices, vegetables, and medicines - and have become are a key element in...

s and other strong flavorings.

Dishes tend to be seasoned liberally and consequently Haitian cuisine tends to be moderately spicy, not mild and not too hot. In the country, however, many businesses of foreign origin have been established introducing several foreign cuisines into the mainstream culture. Years of adaptation have led to these cuisines (ie: Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

ine from Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 migration to Haiti) to merge into Haitian cuisine. Rice
Rice
Rice is the seed of the monocot plants Oryza sativa or Oryza glaberrima . As a cereal grain, it is the most important staple food for a large part of the world's human population, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and the West Indies...

 and beans in several differing ways are eaten throughout the country regardless of location, becoming a sort of national dish. They form the staple diet, which consists of a lot of starch
Starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

 and is high in carbohydrate
Carbohydrate
A carbohydrate is an organic compound with the empirical formula ; that is, consists only of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, with a hydrogen:oxygen atom ratio of 2:1 . However, there are exceptions to this. One common example would be deoxyribose, a component of DNA, which has the empirical...

s. Rural areas, with better access to agricultural products have a larger variety of choices.

One such dish is mais moulu (mayi moulin), which is comparable to cornmeal
Cornmeal
Cornmeal is flour ground from dried maize or American corn. It is a common staple food, and is ground to fine, medium, and coarse consistencies. In the United States, the finely ground cornmeal is also referred to as cornflour. However, the word cornflour denotes cornstarch in recipes from the...

 that can be eaten with sauce aux pois (sòs pwa), a bean sauce made from one of many types of beans such as kidney
Kidney
The kidneys, organs with several functions, serve essential regulatory roles in most animals, including vertebrates and some invertebrates. They are essential in the urinary system and also serve homeostatic functions such as the regulation of electrolytes, maintenance of acid–base balance, and...

, pinto, or garbanzo beans, or pigeon peas (known in some countries as gandules). Mais moulin can be eaten with fish
Fish
Fish are a paraphyletic group of organisms that consist of all gill-bearing aquatic vertebrate animals that lack limbs with digits. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony fish, as well as various extinct related groups...

 (often red snapper
Red snapper (fish)
The red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus, is a fish found in the Gulf of Mexico and the southeastern Atlantic coast of the United States and, much less commonly, northward as far as Massachusetts. In Latin American Spanish it is known as huachinango or pargo...

), or alone depending on personal preference. Some of the many plants used in Haitian dishes include tomato
Tomato
The word "tomato" may refer to the plant or the edible, typically red, fruit which it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler...

, oregano
Oregano
Oregano – scientifically named Origanum vulgare by Carolus Linnaeus – is a common species of Origanum, a genus of the mint family . It is native to warm-temperate western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region.Oregano is a perennial herb, growing from 20–80 cm tall,...

, cabbage
Cabbage
Cabbage is a popular cultivar of the species Brassica oleracea Linne of the Family Brassicaceae and is a leafy green vegetable...

, avocado
Avocado
The avocado is a tree native to Central Mexico, classified in the flowering plant family Lauraceae along with cinnamon, camphor and bay laurel...

, bell pepper
Bell pepper
Bell pepper, also known as sweet pepper or a pepper and capsicum , is a cultivar group of the species Capsicum annuum . Cultivars of the plant produce fruits in different colors, including red, yellow, orange and green. Bell peppers are sometimes grouped with less pungent pepper varieties as...

s. A popular food is banane pesée (ban-nan'n peze), flattened plantain
Plantain
Plantain is the common name for herbaceous plants of the genus Musa. The fruit they produce is generally used for cooking, in contrast to the soft, sweet banana...

 slices fried in soybean oil
Soybean oil
Soybean oil is a vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the soybean . It is one of the most widely consumed cooking oils. As a drying oil, processed soybean oil is also used as a base for printing inks and oil paints...

 (known as tostones
Tostones
Tostones or patacones are a popular side dish in many Latin American countries. The dish is made from sliced green plantains cut either length-wise or width-wise and are twice fried...

 in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

). It is eaten both as a snack
Snack
A snack is a small portion of food eaten between meals. The food might be snack food—items like potato chips or baby carrots—but could also simply be a smaller amount of any food item.-Snacks and health:...

 and as part of a meal is, often eaten with tassot or griot, which are deep-fried goat
Goat
The domestic goat is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the Bovidae family and is closely related to the sheep as both are in the goat-antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over three hundred distinct breeds of...

 and pork
Pork
Pork is the culinary name for meat from the domestic pig , which is eaten in many countries. It is one of the most commonly consumed meats worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC....

 respectively.

Sports

Soccer is the most popular sport in Haiti. Basketball is growing in popularity. Hundreds of small soccer clubs compete at the local level.

See also

  • Caribbean Community
    Caribbean Community
    The Caribbean Community is an organisation of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies. CARICOM's main purposes are to promote economic integration and cooperation among its members, to ensure that the benefits of integration are equitably shared, and to coordinate foreign policy...

  • External debt of Haiti
  • Greater Antilles
    Greater Antilles
    The Greater Antilles are one of three island groups in the Caribbean. Comprising Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola , and Puerto Rico, the Greater Antilles constitute almost 90% of the land mass of the entire West Indies.-Greater Antilles in context :The islands of the Caribbean Sea, collectively known as...

  • Hispaniola
    Hispaniola
    Hispaniola is a major island in the Caribbean, containing the two sovereign states of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The island is located between the islands of Cuba to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, within the hurricane belt...


  • Le Nouvelliste (Haiti)
    Le Nouvelliste (Haiti)
    Le Nouvelliste is a French-language daily newspaper printed in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and distributed throughout the country, particularly the capital and 18 of the country's major cities....

  • List of Haitians

  • National Museum of Haiti
    National Museum of Haiti
    The National Museum of Haiti in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was completed in 1938. It is located at Route Nationale No. 1 in the neighborhood of Montrouis...

  • Wikipedia in Haitian Kreyol


Further reading

  • Arthur, Charles. Haiti in Focus: A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture. Interlink Publishing Group (2002). ISBN 1-56656-359-3.
  • Dayan, Colin. Haiti, History, and the Gods. University of California Press (1998). ISBN 0-520-21368-8.
  • Hadden, Robert Lee and Steven G. Minson. 2010. The Geology of Haiti: An Annotated Bibliography of Haiti's Geology, Geography and Earth Science. US Army Corps of Engineers, Army Geospatial Center. July 2010.
  • Heinl, Robert Debs & Nancy Gordon Heinl. Written in Blood: The Story of the Haitian People 1492–1995. University Press of America (2005). ISBN 0-7618-3177-0.
  • Robinson, Randall. An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President
    An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President
    An Unbroken Agony: Haiti, From Revolution to the Kidnapping of a President is a book on the history of Haiti by Randall Robinson ....

    . Basic Civitas (2007). ISBN 0-465-07050-7.
  • Wilentz, Amy. The Rainy Season: Haiti Since Duvalier. Simon & Schuster (1990). ISBN 0-671-70628-4.

External links

Government

General information
  • Haiti at Encyclopædia Britannica
    Encyclopædia Britannica
    The Encyclopædia Britannica , published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia that is available in print, as a DVD, and on the Internet. It is written and continuously updated by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 expert...

  • Haiti at UCB Libraries GovPubs
  • A Country Study: Haiti from the U.S. Library of Congress
    Library of Congress
    The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

     (December 1989)
  • Country Profile at New Internationalist
    New Internationalist
    New Internationalist is a magazine from New Internationalist Publications, a co-operative-run publisher based in Oxford, England. It has editorial and sales offices in Toronto, Canada; Adelaide, Australia; Christchurch, New Zealand; and New York, USA....



Maps
  • Map of Haiti from Elahmad.com
  • Collection of maps from the Perry-Castañeda Library
    Perry-Castañeda Library
    The Perry–Castañeda Library is the main central library of the University of Texas at Austin library system in Austin, Texas. PCL is located at 21st Street and Speedway in Austin, TX....

     at the University of Texas
  • Map of Haiti from the United Nations
    United Nations
    The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

  • Maps of Haiti from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Army Geospatial Center
    Army Geospatial Center
    The Army Geospatial Center is a Major Subordinate Command of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. It is located in Alexandria, Virginia, within the adjacent to the Fort Belvoir military reservation...

    , including geology, hydrology, geography and trafficability


Media

Travel

Relief Organizations
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