This section provides basic facts about Haiti. These facts have all be sourced from the CIA fact page for Haiti. You can check these facts yourself here.
Where Is Haiti?
Haiti, officially the Republic of Haiti, is located on the western third of the island of Hispanola. The rest of the island is occupied by the Dominican Republic. Hispanola sits between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.
Haiti is occupied by just shy of 10 million people. 95% of Haiti's people of Haiti are black, with the remaining 5% registering as white. Fully 2.1 million of the population lives in Port au Prince, making it an extremely congested city.
Haiti has two official languages: French and Haitian Creole. While French is the language of the government and most businesses, many of Haiti's poorer residents speak only Creole.
Haiti's population is about 80% Roman Catholic, 16% Protestant (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%), 1% of the population registers no religion, and 3% categorise their religion as “other”.
About half of Haiti's population also practices some form of voodoo.
Haiti has been independent since 1 January 1804, when a slave revolt secured freedom from France.
Today, Haiti is a republic and its government consists of three branches, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.
The executive branch is made up of Haiti's president, Michel Martelly, its Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, and its cabinet. The president is elected via popular vote every five years, and he then appoints the prime minister. The president and prime minister work together to appoint cabinet members.
The legislative branch consists of a Senate and Chamber of Deputies. The Senate has 30 seats, and its members are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms. The Chamber of Deputies has 99 seats. It's members are also elected by popular vote, but members only serve four-year terms.
The Judicial branch is made up of the supreme court.
Haiti has a tropical climate and is hot year round. Interior sections of the country are semi-arid where mountains disrupt trade winds.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. 80% of Haiti's population lives below the international poverty line of $2 a day, and 54% are defined as living in abject poverty surviving on just $1.25. Poverty levels are reflected in a very high infant mortality rate – Haiti ranks 41st on the list of countries with the worse infant mortality. That means there are only 40 countries in the world where a child is less likely to live to see their first birthday than in Haiti.
Poverty levels are also reflected in literacy statistics. Just over 47% of Haiti's population is illiterate. This is due in large part to the fact that there are not enough public schools to accommodate Haiti's children. As a result, most of Haiti's kids are forced to attend private schools which charge between $100 and $200 a year per student. For families living in poverty, these fees are out of reach, and their children do not attend school. Without an education, these kids are often trapped in the same poverty which affects their parents. Returning children to school is an important step in reducing poverty.
Widespread unemployment makes escaping poverty extremely difficult for many Haitians. More than two thirds of Haitians lack formal jobs, and developing skills which can help Haiti's poor find work is also a priority.