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The native Arawak Amerindians - who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by Columbus in 1492 - were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola, and in 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island, which later became Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean, but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. In the late 18th century, Haiti's nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L'OUVERTURE. After a prolonged struggle, Haiti became the first black republic to declare its independence in 1804. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. After an armed rebellion led to the departure of President Jean-Betrand ARISTIDE in February 2004, an interim government took office to organize new elections under the auspices of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Continued violence and technical delays have prompted repeated postponements, and Haiti missed the constitutionally-mandated presidential inauguration date of 7 February 2006.


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

Geographic coordinates:

19 00 N, 72 25 W


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

Land boundaries:

total: 360 km
border countries: Dominican Republic 360 km


1,771 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation


tropical; semiarid where mountains in east cut off trade winds


mostly rough and mountainous

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Chaine de la Selle 2,680 m

Natural resources:

bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble, hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 28.11%
permanent crops: 11.53%
other: 60.36% (2005)

Irrigated land:

920 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding and earthquakes; periodic droughts

Environment - current issues:

extensive deforestation (much of the remaining forested land is being cleared for agriculture and used as fuel); soil erosion; inadequate supplies of potable water

Geography - note:

shares island of Hispaniola with Dominican Republic (western one-third is Haiti, eastern two-thirds is the Dominican Republic)


note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 42.4% (male 1,770,523/female 1,749,853)
15-64 years: 54.2% (male 2,201,957/female 2,301,886)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 125,298/female 158,987) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 18.2 years
male: 17.8 years
female: 18.6 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.3% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

36.44 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

12.17 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-1.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.79 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 71.65 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 78.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 65.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 53.23 years
male: 51.89 years
female: 54.6 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

4.94 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

5.6% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

280,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

24,000 (2003 est.)


noun: Haitian(s)
adjective: Haitian

Ethnic groups:

black 95%, mulatto and white 5%


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


French (official), Creole (official)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52.9%
male: 54.8%
female: 51.2% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Haiti
conventional short form: Haiti
local long form: Republique d'Haiti
local short form: Haiti

Government type:

elected government



Administrative divisions:

10 departments (departements, singular - departement); Artibonite, Centre, Grand 'Anse, Nippes, Nord, Nord-Est, Nord-Ouest, Ouest, Sud, Sud-Est


1 January 1804 (from France)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 1 January (1804)


approved March 1987; suspended June 1988 with most articles reinstated March 1989; constitutional government ousted in a military coup in September 1991, although in October 1991, military government claimed to be observing the constitution; returned to constitutional rule in October 1994; constitution remains technically in force but has not been observed since Aristide's departure in 2004

Legal system:

based on Roman civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

bicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale consists of the Senate (30 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms; one-third elected every two years) and the Chamber of Deputies (99 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms); note - in reestablishing the Senate, the candidate in each department receiving the most votes in the last election serves six years, the candidate with the second most votes serves four years, and the candidate with the third most votes serves two years
elections: Senate - last held 21 April 2006, run-off elections to be determined (next regular election, for one third of seats, to be held in 2008); Chamber of Deputies - last held 21 April 2006, run-off elections to be determined (next regular election to be held in 2010)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - L'ESPWA 11, OPL 4, FL 3, FUSION 3, LAAA 2, UNCRH 2, ALYANS 1, PONT 1, 3 seats subject to run-off election; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - L'ESPWA 19, FUSION 15, ALYANS 10, OPL 8, FL 6, UNCRH 6, MPH 4, RDNP 4, LAAA 3,KONBA 3, FRN 1, MOCHRENHA 1, MRN 1, Tet-Ansanm 1, MIRN 1, JPDN 1, UNITE 1, PLH 1, 13 seats subject to run-off election

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court or Cour de Cassation

Economy - overview:

In this poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, 80% of the population lives in abject poverty. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agriculture sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, exacerbated by the country's widespread deforestation. The economy grew 1.5% in 2005, the highest growth rate since 1999. Haiti suffers from rampant inflation, a lack of investment, and a severe trade deficit. In early 2005, Haiti paid its arrears to the World Bank, paving the way for reengagement with the Bank. The government is reliant on formal international economic assistance for fiscal sustainability. Remittances are the primary source of foreign exchange, equaling nearly a quarter of GDP in 2005.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$12.85 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$4.321 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

1.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$1,600 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 28%
industry: 20%
services: 52% (2004 est.)

Labor force:

3.6 million
note: shortage of skilled labor, unskilled labor abundant (1995)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 66%
industry: 9%
services: 25%

Unemployment rate:

widespread unemployment and underemployment; more than two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs (2002 est.)

Population below poverty line:

80% (2003 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

15.2% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

27.4% of GDP (2004 est.)


revenues: $400 million
expenditures: $600.8 million; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, sorghum; wood


sugar refining, flour milling, textiles, cement, light assembly industries based on imported parts

Electricity - production:

546 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

507.8 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

11,800 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Current account balance:

$34.08 million (2005 est.)


$390.7 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

manufactures, coffee, oils, cocoa, mangoes

Exports - partners:

US 81.2%, Dominican Republic 7.3%, Canada 4.1% (2004)


$1.471 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

food, manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, raw materials

Imports - partners:

US 34.8%, Netherlands Antilles 18%, Malaysia 5.1%, Colombia 4.7% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$95.26 million (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$1.3 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$153 million (FY05 est.)

Currency (code):

gourde (HTG)

Fiscal year:

1 October - 30 September

Telephones - main lines in use:

140,000 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

400,000 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: domestic facilities barely adequate; international facilities slightly better
domestic: coaxial cable and microwave radio relay trunk service
international: country code - 509; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 41, FM 26, shortwave 0 (1999)

Television broadcast stations:

2 (plus a cable TV service) (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

3 (2005)

Internet users:

500,000 (2005)


12 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 7 (2005)


total: 4,160 km
paved: 1,011 km
unpaved: 3,149 km (1999)

Ports and terminals:


Military branches:

the regular Haitian Armed Forces (FAdH) - Army, Navy, and Air Force - have been demobilized but still exist on paper unless they are constitutionally abolished

Disputes - international:

since 2004, about 8,000 peacekeepers from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) maintain civil order in Haiti; despite efforts to control illegal migration, Haitians fleeing economic privation and civil unrest continue to cross into the Dominican Republic and sail to neighbouring countries; Haiti claims US-administered Navassa Island

Illicit drugs:

Caribbean transshipment point for cocaine en route to the US and Europe; substantial money-laundering activity; Colombian narcotics traffickers favor Haiti for illicit financial transactions; pervasive corruption