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Flag of Haiti
Map of Haiti
Introduction Haiti
The native Arawak Amerindians - who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by Columbus in 1492 - were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola, and in 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island - Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean, but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. In the late 18th century, Haiti's nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L'OUVERTURE and after a prolonged struggle, became the first black republic to declare its independence in 1804. Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history since then, and it is now one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Over three decades of dictatorship followed by military rule ended in 1990 when Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE was elected president. Most of his term was usurped by a military takeover, but he was able to return to office in 1994 and oversee the installation of a close associate to the presidency in 1996. ARISTIDE won a second term as president in 2000, and took office early in 2001. However, a political crisis stemming from fraudulent legislative elections in 2000 has not yet been resolved.
Geography Haiti
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
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
total: 27,750 sq km
land: 27,560 sq km
water: 190 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries:
total: 360 km
border countries: Dominican Republic 360 km
1,771 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
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: 20.32%
permanent crops: 12.7%
other: 66.98% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
750 sq km (1998 est.)
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
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban
Geography - note:
shares island of Hispaniola with Dominican Republic (western one-third is Haiti, eastern two-thirds is the Dominican Republic)
People Haiti
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 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 39.5% (male 1,414,052; female 1,377,693)
15-64 years: 56.3% (male 1,924,867; female 2,049,952)
65 years and over: 4.2% (male 142,657; female 154,501) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.42% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
31.42 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
14.88 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-2.31 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
93.35 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 49.55 years
female: 51.29 years (2002 est.)
male: 47.88 years
Total fertility rate:
4.3 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
5.17% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
210,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
23,000 (1999 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% (1982)
note: roughly half of the population also practices Voodoo
French (official), Creole (official)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 45%
male: 48%
female: 42.2% (1995 est.)
Government Haiti
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Haiti
conventional short form: Haiti
local short form: Haiti
local long form: Republique d'Haiti
Government type:
elected government
Administrative divisions:
9 departments (departements, singular - departement); Artibonite, Centre, Grand 'Anse, 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; in October 1991, government claimed to be observing the constitution; return to constitutional rule, October 1994
Legal system:
based on Roman civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE (since 7 February 2001)
head of government: Prime Minister Yvon NEPTUNE (since 4 March 2002); note - former Prime Minister CHERESTAL resigned in January 2002
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 26 November 2000 (next to be held NA 2005); prime minister appointed by the president, ratified by the National Assembly
election results: Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE elected president; percent of vote - Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE 92%
Legislative branch:
bicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale consists of the Senate (27 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms; one-third elected every two years) and the Chamber of Deputies (83 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held for two-thirds of seats 21 May 2000, with runoffs on 9 July boycotted by the opposition; seven seats still disputed; election for remaining one-third held on 26 November 2000 (next to be held NA 2002); Chamber of Deputies - last held 21 May 2000, with runoffs on 30 July boycotted by the opposition; one vacant seat rerun 26 November 2000 (next to be held NA 2004)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - FL 26, independent 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - FL 73, MOCHRENA 3, PLB 2, OPL 1, vacant 1, other minor parties and independents 3
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Cour de Cassation
Political parties and leaders:
Alliance for the Liberation and Advancement of Haiti or ALAH [Reynold GEORGES]; Assembly of Progressive National Democrats or RDNP [Leslie MANIGAT]; Convergence (opposition coalition composed of ESPACE, OPL, and MOCHRENA) [Gerard PIERRE-CHARLES, Evans PAUL, Luc MESADIEU, Victor BENOIT]; Democratic Consultation Group coalition or ESPACE [Evans PAUL, Victor Benoit] composed of the following parties: National Congress of Democratic Movements or KONAKOM, National Progressive Revolutionary Party or PANPRA, Generation 2004, and Haiti Can; Haitian Christian Democratic Party or PDCH [Marie-France CLAUDE]; Haitian Democratic Party or PADEM [Clark PARENT]; Lavalas Family or FL [Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE]; Mobilization for National Development or MDN [Hubert DE RONCERAY]; Movement for National Reconstruction or MRN [Rene THEODORE]; Movement for the Installation of Democracy in Haiti or MIDH [Marc BAZIN]; Movement for the Organization of the Country or MOP [Gesner COMEAU and Jean MOLIERE]; National Cooperative Action Movement or MKN [Volrick Remy JOSEPH]; National Front for Change and Democracy or FNCD [Evans PAUL and Turneb DELPE]; New Christian Movement for a New Haiti or MOCHRENA [Luc MESADIEU]; Open the Gate or PLB [Renaud BERNARDIN]; Struggling People's Organization or OPL [Gerard PIERRE-CHARLES]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Autonomous Haitian Workers or CATH; Confederation of Haitian Workers or CTH; Federation of Workers Trade Unions or FOS; National Popular Assembly or APN; Papaye Peasants Movement or MPP; Popular Organizations Gathering Power or PROP; Roman Catholic Church
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Chief of Mission Harry Frantz LEO
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, and San Juan (Puerto Rico)
FAX: [1] (202) 745-7215
telephone: [1] (202) 332-4090
chancery: 2311 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Roger NORIEGA
embassy: 5 Harry S Truman Boulevard, Port-au-Prince
mailing address: P. O. Box 1761, Port-au-Prince
telephone: [509] 222-0354, 222-0269, 222-0200, 222-0327
FAX: [509] 223-1641, 222-0200, extension 460
Flag description:
two equal horizontal bands of blue (top) and red with a centered white rectangle bearing the coat of arms, which contains a palm tree flanked by flags and two cannons above a scroll bearing the motto L'UNION FAIT LA FORCE (Union Makes Strength)
Economy Haiti
Economy - overview:
About 80% of the population lives in abject poverty. Nearly 70% of all Haitians depend on the agriculture sector, which consists mainly of small-scale subsistence farming and employs about two-thirds of the economically active work force. The country has experienced little job creation since the former President PREVAL took office in February 1996, although the informal economy is growing. Following legislative elections in May 2000, fraught with irregularities, international donors - including the US and EU - suspended almost all aid to Haiti. The economy shrank an estimated 1.2% in 2001, and the contraction will likely intensify in 2002 unless a political agreement with donors is reached and aid restored.
purchasing power parity - $12 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-1.2% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,700 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 30%
industry: 20%
services: 50% (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line:
80% (1998 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
14% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
3.6 million (1995)
note: shortage of skilled labor, unskilled labor abundant (2001) (1995)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 66%, services 25%, industry 9%
Unemployment rate:
widespread unemployment and underemployment; more than two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs (2001) (2001)
revenues: $273 million
expenditures: $361 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY00/01 est.)
sugar refining, flour milling, textiles, cement, light assembly industries based on imported parts
Industrial production growth rate:
0.6% (1997 est.)
Electricity - production:
522 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 69%
hydro: 31%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
485.46 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, sorghum; wood
$326.6 million f.o.b. (2001)
Exports - commodities:
manufactures, coffee, oils, cocoa
Exports - partners:
US 90%, EU 6% (2000)
$977.5 million c.i.f. (2001)
Imports - commodities:
food, manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, raw materials
Imports - partners:
US 60%, EU 10.5%, Dominican Republic 3.7% (2000)
Debt - external:
$1.2 billion (1999) (1999)
Economic aid - recipient:
$730.6 million (1995) (1995)
gourde (HTG)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
gourdes per US dollar - 26.674 (January 2002), 26.339 (2001), 22.524 (2000), 17.965 (1999), 16.505 (1998), 17.311 (1997)
Fiscal year:
1 October - 30 September
Communications Haiti
Telephones - main lines in use:
60,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
0 (1995)
Telephone system:
general assessment: domestic facilities barely adequate; international facilities slightly better
domestic: coaxial cable and microwave radio relay trunk service
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 41, FM 26, shortwave 0 (1999)
415,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (plus a cable TV service) (1997)
38,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
3 (2000)
Internet users:
30,000 (2002)
Transportation Haiti
total: 40 km
narrow gauge: 40 km 0.760-m gauge; single-track
note: privately owned industrial line; closed in early 1990s (2001 est.)
total: 4,160 km
paved: 1,011 km
unpaved: 3,149 km (1996)
NEGL; less than 100 km navigable
Ports and harbors:
Cap-Haitien, Gonaives, Jacmel, Jeremie, Les Cayes, Miragoane, Port-au-Prince, Port-de-Paix, Saint-Marc
Merchant marine:
none (2002 est.)
12 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 6 (2002)
Military Haiti
Military branches:
Haitian National Police (HNP)
note: the regular Haitian Army, Navy, and Air Force have been demobilized but still exist on paper until or unless they are constitutionally abolished
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 1,691,585 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 919,275 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 87,049 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$50 million (FY00)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
1.3% (FY00)
Transnational Issues Haiti
Disputes - international:
claims US-administered Navassa Island
Illicit drugs:
major 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

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003