Facts about Haiti
Many people don’t know a lot about Haiti, so let’s start with some Fast Facts:
OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Haiti
FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Republic
POPULATION: 11 Million
OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: French, Creole
AREA: 10,714 square miles (27,750 square kilometers)
- DOMINICAN REPULIC AND HAITI SHARE THE SAME ISLAND: however, Haiti was colonized by the French, and DR was colonized by the Spanish
- “Hayti” is the Indian name for the country and means “land of the mountains.”
- The population is 95% black and 5% white
- The president is elected every five years.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living in poverty. About two-thirds of the population live off subsistence farming and are vulnerable to the frequent storms, which destroy their crops and erode the land.
Many countries and non-profit groups send aid to Haiti. The government relies on aid from international groups. Most of the population works in the farming sector.
Haiti produces coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, sorghum, and wood.
Christopher Columbus landed on the island of Hispaniola in 1492 and Haiti became a Spanish colony. The Spanish killed off most all the native peoples and imported African slaves to work in the colony.
The French took over the colony in the 1600s and increased production in many crops such as coffee, cotton, and sugarcane. Slaves revolted against French rule and gained independence from France in January 1804.
Dictator Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier ruled the country in 1957 and the deep poverty was hidden behind strong government controls. The government killed many people who didn’t agree with Duvalier’s government. Many Haitians left the country and moved to safety in other countries. Duvalier’s government was ousted in 1986.
Haiti still suffers from natural disasters, a lack of basic resources and economic problems. The country’s most vulnerable communities continue to face environmental risks, such as widespread deforestation, pollution from industry, and limited access to safe water and sanitation. Low rainfall exacerbates food insecurity in the country.
With that being said, Haiti is a country full of innovative, hard working and some of the most generous inspirational people, and Varico Foundation is lucky to have been able to work in this beautiful yet challenging country for the past few years.