• "...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me." Matthew 25: 34-40

Haiti at a Glance



Haiti

Officially the Republic of Haiti is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. It is the second largest island in the Greater Antilles; the third largest country in the Caribbean behind Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

The total area of Haiti is 27,750 square kilometers (10,714 square mile) and its capital is Port-au-Prince. Haitian Creole and French are the official languages. Haiti was the first independent nation in Latin America and the first black-led republic in the world when it gained independence as part of a successful slave revolution in 1804. 95% of Haitians are black, 5% mulatto and white.
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, which begins in the western region of the Dominican Republic and continues most of its length through central Haiti and onward where it empties into the Golfe de la Gonave.
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National History

La Citadelle Laferriere is a large mountaintop fortress in northern Haiti, approximately 27 kilometers (17 miles) south of the city of Cap-Haitien and five miles (8km) uphill from the town of Milot. It is the largest fortress in the Americas and was designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a World Heritage Site in 1982 along with the nearby Sans-Souci Palace. The citadelle was built by Henry Christophe, a key leader during the Haitian slave rebellion, after Haiti gained independence from France at the beginning of the 19th century.

It was built by up to 20,000 workers between 1805 and 1820 as part of a system of fortifications designed to keep the newly-independent nation of Haiti safe from French incursions. The Citadel was built several miles inland, and atop the 3,000 ft (910m) Bonnet a L'Eveque mountain, to deter attacks and to provide a lookout into the nearby valleys. Anecdotally, it is possible to sight the eastern coast of Cuba, some 90 miles (140 km) to the west, on clear days. Other sites: Fort Jacques - 365 doors Palace and the Crete-a-Pierrot fort.
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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. 80% of Haitians are of African and indigenous Taino descent; the remaining 20-15% of the population are mostly of mixed-race background. A small percentage of the non-black population consists primarily of white Haitians; mostly of Western European (French, Terman, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish), and Arab, Armenian, or Jewish origin.
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Religion

80% of Haitians profess to be Roman Catholics. Protestants make up about 16% of the population (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%), none 1%, other 3%.
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Government

The government of Haiti is a semi-presidential republic, a multiparty system wherein the President of Haiti is the head of state elected directly by popular elections. The Prime Minister acts as head of government and is appointed by the President, chosen from the majority party in the National Assembly.
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Departments, arrondissements, and communes

For administration reasons, Haiti has been divided into ten departments: 1) Artibonite(Gonaives) - 2) Centre(Hinche) - 3) Grand'Anse(Jeremie) - 4) Nippes(Miragoane) - 5) Nord(Cap-Haitien) - 6) Nord-Est(Fort-Liberte) - 7) Nord-Ouest(Port-de-Paix) - 8) Ouest(Port-au-Prince) - 9) Sud-Est(Jacmel) - 10) Sud(Cayes). The departments are divided into 41 arrondissements, and 133 communes, which serve as second and third-level administrative divisions.
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Economy

About 66% of all Haitians work in the agricultural sector. 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. 80% of the population lives under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty. Most Haitians live on $2 US or less per day.
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Transportation

Haiti has three main highways that run from one end of the country to the other. The nothern highway, Route Nationale #1 (National Highway One), originates in Port-au-Prince, winding through the coastal towns of Montrouis and Gonaives, before reaching it terminus at the northern port Cap-Haitien. The southern highway, Route Nationale #2, links Port-au-Prince with Les Cayes via Leogane and Petit Goave. The centre highway, Route Nationale #3, links Port-au-Prince with Hinche via Croix des Bouquets; also with Belladere via Mirebalais and Lascahobas.
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Air

Toussaint Louverture international Airport is located 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) North/North East of Port-au-Prince. It has Haiti's main jetway, 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. A new international airport has been built in Cap Haitian, making easier to fly to the north side of the country. Cities such as Jacmel, Jeremie, Les Cayes and Port de Paix have airports that are accessible only by smaller aircraft. Companies that fly to these airports include: Caribintair, Sunrise Airways and Tortug' Air.
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Health

Half of the children in Haiti are unvaccinated; only 40% of the population has access to basic health care. The incidence of tuberculosis (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. Roughly 75% of Haitian households lack running water.
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Education

The educational system of Haiti is based on the French system. 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. The enrollment rate for primary school is 67%, and fewer than 30% reach 6th grade. Secondary schools enroll 20% of eligible-age children. 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 US to create an adequately funded system.
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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 Taino, with influence from the colonial Spanish. The music is influenced mostly by European colonial ties and African migration. Compas (in French) or Kompa (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 meringue (related to Dominican merengue) as a basic rhythm.
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Cuisine

The cuisine of Haiti originates from several culinary styles from the various historical ethnic groups namely the French, African, and the Taino. Haitian cuisine is similar to the rest of the Latin-Caribbean however; it differs in several ways from its regional counterparts. It carries a uniqueness native only to the country and an appeal to many visitors to the island. Haitians often use peppers and other strong flavorings. Rice 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 constist of a lot of starch and is high in carbohydrates.

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 that can be eaten with sauce aux pois (sos pwa), a bean sauce made from one of many types of beans such as kdney, pinto, or garbanzo beans, or pigeon peas. It can be eaten with fish (often red snapper), or alone depending on personal preference. Some of the many plants used in Haitian dishes include tomato, oregano, cabbage, avocado, bell peppers. A popular food is banade pesee (ban-nan'n peze), flattened plantain slices fried in soybean oil. It is eaten both as a snack and as part of a meal if, often eaten with tassot or griot, which are deep-fried goat and pork respectively.
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Sports

Soccer, which is called 'Football' in Haiti, is the most popular sport in Haiti. Basketball is growing in popularity. Hundreds of small football clubs compete at the local, national and international levels.
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