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About Haiti //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Once the richest European colony in the Americas, Haiti is now the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Roughly half of all Haitians live in absolute poverty (earning less than $1 a day) and have no access to clean water.

Haiti is a Caribbean nation less than 700 miles Miami’s glitzy skyline – a day’s drive if your car could float, or a short international flight.  Yet very few Americans know much about the country.

From the beginning of its rich but tragic history, Haiti has been shaped by the actions of adventurers, missionaries, opportunists, and governments.  All the good and the bad of Haiti are a product of that history.

Haiti Fast Facts:

Climate

Being on a Caribbean island means that Haiti is hot and humid during most of the year.  Some areas of the country, however, can be almost desert-like and dry where the mountains cut off the trade winds.

Terrain

Most of Haiti is rugged and mountainous.  Rampant deforestation and poor environmental controls have left large swaths of the country bare and contributed to large-scale loss of topsoil.  Much of Haiti suffers from chronic drought.

Population

More than 9 million people live in Haiti, making it the second most densely populated country in the Americas.  It is also one of the fastest growing.

On the whole, Haiti has a young population, in part because of a high birthrate and relatively short life expectancies (60 years for women and 56 years for men).  Just 4 percent of Haitians are more than 64 years old.  In contrast, 42 percent of Haitians are younger than 14.

Economy

More than two-thirds of Haiti’s population is unemployed or has no formal job.  Most Haitians live on less than $2 a day.  One in two Haitians live in absolute poverty, earning less than $1 dollar a day.

Haiti is the least-developed economy in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest countries in the world.  Its economy is less than half the size of Vermont’s, though Haiti has roughly 14 times as many people.

Haiti’s does export many goods and services, particularly coffee, oils, cocoa, sugar and the light assembly of goods.  The country is dependent, however, on foreign aid.

Remittances – money sent from Haitians living in other countries – account for more than 25 percent of Haiti’s gross domestic product.  That money is an important source of income for wealth and poor Haitians alike.  Roughly one in nine Haitian adults receive remittances from someone abroad.

Languages

Creole and French are both official languages in Haiti, though Creole is more common.