Haiti Local

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"Haiti is like an accordion - sometimes it's big, sometimes it's small." -André Pierre, Haitian artist

Haiti (Kreyol: Ayiti) is a country situated on the western third of the island of Hispaniola.
For shortcut to: Geography of Haiti, click here
For Haiti in a nutshell, click here
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The capital, Port-au-Prince, is situated on the Bay of the same name at the juncture of the two major peninsulas that make up Haiti. Haiti sits at the boundary line between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, about 950 kilometers (600 miles) from Florida. The Mona Passage separates Haiti from Puerto Rico, and the Windward Passage lies between Haiti and the island nations of Jamaica and Cuba

A former French colony, it was the first country in the Americas after the United States to declare its independence. The poorest economy in the Western Hemisphere compares an interesting relationship with the United States economy.(2016)[1] .

Any visitor arriving in Port-au-Prince, however, will immediately be struck by the seemingly ceaseless activity and immense individual energy of the people. In the countryside too, Haitians are always on the move, weeding fields, harvesting crops, fetching drinking water from streams, or driving livestock to fresh pasture. The people may be poor, but they cannot afford to be idle.

Repiblik d Ayiti
République d'Haïti
Flag of Haiti Coat of arms
(In Detail)
National motto: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity."
(French: "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.")
Official languages Kreyòl, French
Capital Port-au-Prince
President Boniface Alexandre (interim)
Prime Minister Gérard Latortue
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 143rd
27,750 km²
 - Total (Year)
 - Density
Ranked 92nd
7.5 million (July 2003)
 - Total (Year)
 - GDP/head

$10.6 billion (2002)
Currency Gourde (HTG)
Time zone UTC -5 (no Daylight Saving Time)
 - Declared
 - Recognised
(from France)
January 1, 1804
1825 (Fr), 1863 (USA)
National anthem La Dessalinienne
Top-level domain/Internet TLD .ht
Calling Code 509

Introduction / Main Page[]

For Eighty years, Haiti has been judged", Louis-Joseph Janvier wrote in 1883. Since the birth of their country in 1804, Haitians had been incessantly "accused" by outsiders, and it was time for them to respond...

(read more)

God's purpose in history is implicitly disclosed: to invade the arena of fallen humanity and effect the redemption of his creation - the mission in which his people are also to be totally engaged.


Early History[]

(series of events that led to Haiti's birth)[]

Fall of the once Mighty Roman Empire

In AD 476 the emperor of the Western Roman Empire, Romulus Augustus, was overthrown and the first in a series of non-Roman Germanic Kings took his place. This event is usually given as the fall of the once Mighty Roman Empire, which had ruled much of the known world for 500 years. However, this imperial collapse affected only the Western section of the empire. The Eastern Roman Empire survived and thrived as the Byzantine Empire.

In 1453 the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople and thus ended the Byzantine Empire.

Indo-European trade through the Incense Route, Spice trade and the maritime Silk Road has been a key trade route for millennia. Here, India refers to not just the modern day India, but the whole of South and South East Asia. This region shared common cultural, religion and linguistic roots.


This lucrative trade route has significantly influenced world history. Piracy in this trade route, for instance, diverted the trade via the inland region in Arabia leading Mecca to become a major trading point that in turn led to the rise of Islam.

Rise of Islam and the Mongol Invasion

Since the rise of Islam, this trade route had become problematic for the Europeans. Europeans didn't want to trade with the Muslims and tried their best to avoid them. However, there were not many alternatives. In parallel, Europe went into the medieval period with a drop in trade in the Mediterranean and the power centers migrated away from the Mediterranean.

The Mongols would change that. In the 13th century they would begin the quest to build the greatest empire in history and would create a free trade area stretching from South East Asia to Europe. Explorers like Marco Polo [even if he himself didn't travel, at the very least his uncles did and he wrote a lot of exciting stuff about the east] would travel to the east and bring exciting accounts.

The Mongol invasion brought key inventions such as the compass from China to Western Europe. This brought a new interest in sailing and Portuguese royals such as Prince Henry the Navigator began exploring more.

Fall of Constantinople

By the middle of the 15th century, Western Europe acquired the tools and passion for sailing. They just needed a big reason now. The Turks provided them. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 made it difficult to do trade with India.

Finding the Alternate Route

As the Portuguese royals were increasingly looking for new routes, a variety of Italians offered them ideas. A France-born Italian guy named Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli proposed that they should sail west and they would hit India eventually. The king thought it would be too long. In 1488 he got the alternative route to the Indian Ocean by a guy named Bartolomeu Dias.

Columbus took upon Toscanelli's plan and seeing that the Portuguese crown was still looking for the route via Africa [Vasco da Gama would succeed in that route in 1497 - five years after Columbus landed in Americas] he went to the Spanish crown. The Spaniards possibly felt that they were lagging behind Portugal in seafaring and funding Columbus' botched up idea. As luck would have it, he would land in the Caribbean before he would run out of supplies.

Some speculate that the real reason Columbus was 'sailing the ocean blue' was because he violated the 13 year old daughter of a Spanish Duchess. They couldn't kill him without angering the Italian court, so Queen Isabella just sent him on a mission they didn't think he would return from. It is also ON PUBLIC RECORD that he rewarded his soldiers by giving them Native Americans to have their way with. At times, they would make an example of a Native by cutting his hands off and tying them around his neck, then telling him to go and 'share the message' with the rest of his tribe. Other times they would go and massacre an entire village, unconcerned with the age of their victims.

Washed ashore

When Columbus first came ashore and was greeted by the Arawak native Americans with smiles, gifts and food, he wrote in his log:

“They brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things … they willingly traded everything they owned … They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane … They would make fine servants … With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

From the very outset Columbus was writing about conquering and enslaving the natives. Meanwhile the Arawaks, brought gifts, prepared food, and traded everything they owned.

Columbus wrote that the natives,

"are so naïve and so free with their possessions that no one who has not witnessed them would believe it. When you ask for something they have, they never say no. To the contrary, they offer to share with anyone."

He also wrote,

“I believe that they would easily be made Christians, because it seemed to me that they had no religion.” The European settlers took a free society without possessions, property, currency, hierarchy or written religion and replaced it with today’s America – the world’s shining beacon of selfish materialism, where every square inch of land/water/airspace is publicly or privately owned, taxed, and governed through a corrupt hierarchical system of laws and regulations where Mother Nature’s gifts are treated as personal possessions to be bought, sold, owned and defended.

Columbus wrote:

‘As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.’

The information that Columbus wanted most was: Where is the gold? … His second expedition was given seventeen ships and more than twelve hundred men. The aim was clear: slaves and gold … They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives … roaming the island in gangs looking for gold, taking women and children as slaves for sex and labor.”

“It was his [Columbus’] avowed aim to ‘convert the heathen Indians to our Holy Faith’ that warranted the enslaving and exporting of thousands of Native Americans. That such treatment resulted in complete genocide did not matter as much as that these natives had been given the opportunity of everlasting life through their exposure to Christianity. The same sort of thinking also gave Westerners license to rape women. In his own words, Columbus described how he himself ‘took [his] pleasure’ with a native woman after whipping her ‘soundly’ with a piece of rope.”

Helen Ellerbe, “The Dark Side of Christian History” (86-88)

By 1496 the settlers were responsible for massively numerous native American deaths. We are not talking about some guy who accidentally bumped into America looking for a spice-trade route to India, but that’s what the standardized textbooks continue to tell our children about him. Personally, I don't even know why the mainstream historical texts say he 'discovered America' since Natives were obviously in America long before he was, AND for the fact that most of the tribes he slaughtered or enslaved were in the Caribbean. (There is ZERO evidence that he even found 'the mainland of North America'. There are some claims that he landed somewhere in the Florida Keys, but it's hard to say if they're true at this point.)


Middle History[]

1790s to 1800s

A little more than 200 years ago, the place that we now know as Haiti - then the French colony of Saint-Domingue - was perhaps the most profitable bit of land in the world. It was full of thriving sugar plantations, with slaves - who made up nine-tenths of the colony's population - planting and cutting cane and operating the mills and boiling houses that produced the sugar crystals coveted by European consumers. The plantation system was immensely lucrative, creating enormous fortunes in France. It was also brutally destructive. The plantations consumed the landscape: observers at the time already noted that alarmingly large areas the forest have been chopped down for construction and for export of precious woods to Europe. And they consumed the lives of the colony's slaves at a murderous rate. Over the course of the colony's history, as many as a million slaves were brought from Africa to Saint-Domingue, but the work was so harsh that even with a constant stream of imports, the slave population constantly declined. Few children were born and those that were often died young. By the late 1700s, the colony had about half a million slaves altogether. It was out of this brutal world that Haiti was born.

In August 1791, slaves on the sugar plantations in the north of the colony launched the largest slave revolt in history. They set the cane fields on fire, killed their masters, and smashed all the instruments used to process the sugarcane. They took over the northern plantations, gained new recruits, and built an army and a political movement. Within two years, they had secured freedom for all the slaves in the colony. In 1794, the French government - then in the hands of the radical Jacobins - recognized that freedom and extended it, abolishing slavery throughout the French Empire.

Between 1794 and 1801, Saint-Domingue remained nominally a French colony, led by Toussaint Louverture - a former slave, now a French general. Louverture defended the territory from English invasion and sought to maintain the colony's plantation system, intent on proving to the world that it was possible to produce sugar and coffee without slavery. But when Napoleon Bonaparte sent troops to resurrect the order that had been destroyed by the 1791 uprising, the population, faced with the prospect of a return to slavery, rose up again. With Haiti's Declaration of Independence, the revolution was complete.

Click here to read: How the revolution was won

The aftershocks of that revolution reverberate throughout Haiti's history. The country emerged in a world still dominated by slavery, and the nations that surrounded it saw its existence as a serious threat. For decades France refused to recognize Haiti's independence, maintaining that it still had sovereignty over its onetime colony, and the governments of England and the United States followed France's lead. Haiti's political isolation and the constant threats directed at it weighed heavily on its early leaders, who keenly felt the burden of proving to the world that are black nation could succeed. To defend against possible attack, they poured money into building fortifications and maintaining a large army. Being Haiti, it turned out, was costly. What's more, this emphasis on military readiness meant that, from the start, civilian concerns were often subordinated to the Army's needs.

The colony of Saint-Domingue had been built and populated with just one goal: to produce crops for export. This old order inevitably haunted the newly-independent Haiti. Like Louverture before them, the man who first ruled the fledgling country - among them several ex-slaves - saw the reconstruction of its plantations as the only viable economic course of action. What else was there to sell besides sugar and coffee, after all, in order to buy the goods and the guns and they needed to survive? But the former slaves who made up the vast majority of the population had a very different plan. They were not going back to the plantation system. Instead, they took over the land they had once worked as slaves, creating small farms as they raised livestock and grew crops to feed themselves and sell in local markets. On these small farms, they did all the things that had been denied to them under slavery: they built families, practiced their religion, and worked for themselves.

Sub-continental divide

The deep divisions over what Haiti should be has shaped the entire political history of the country. Haiti's rural population effectively undid the plantation model. By combining subsistance agriculture with the production of some crops for export, they created a system that guaranteed them a better life, materially and socially, then that available to most other people of African descent in the Americas throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But they did did not succeed in establishing that system in the country as a whole. In the face of most Haitians' unwillingness to work the plantations, Haiti's ruling groups retreated but did not surrender. Ceding, to some extent, control of the land, took charge of the ports and the export trade. And they took control of the state, heavily taxing the goods produced by the small-scale farmers and thereby reinforcing the economic divisions between the haves and the have nots.

In the past two centuries, this stalemate between the ruling class and the broader population has led to a devastating set of authoritarian political habits. Over time - often convinced that the masses were simply not ready to participate in political life - the Haitian governing elites crafted state institutions that excluded most Haitians from formal political involvement. Although reformers occasionally pushed for a more liberal democracy, the elites always closed ranks whenever the question of sharing political power with the rural population arose. A simple fact illustrates the depth of this political exclusion. The majority of Haitians speak Kreyòl, a language born of the encounter between French and various African languages in the 18th century. Until 1987, however, the only official language of the government was French, which only a small minority in the country could read or even understand. For almost all of Haiti's history, most of its population has literally been unable to read the laws under which they have been governed.

Haiti is often described as a "failed state." In fact though, Haiti's state has been quite successful at doing what it was set up to do: preserve power for small group. The constitutional structures established in the 19th century made it very difficult to vote the country's leaders out of office, leaving insurrection as the only means of effecting political change. Haiti's twentieth-century century laws have grown more liberal, but it's government still changes hands primarily through extraconstitutional, and often violent, means. And despite a powerful wave of popular participation in the past decades, the country's political structures remain largely unaccountable and impermeable to the demands of the majority of Haitians.

Part 2

Haiti danse.jpg

Haiti's domestic divisions were not the only - or even the most significant - source of its problems. Over the course of the nineteenth century, foreign governments gained more and more control over the country's economy and politics. France did so in a particularly cynical and devastating way. When the French finally granted recognition to Haiti, more than two decades after its founding, they took a kind of revenge, insisting that the new nation pay an indemnity of 150 million francs (roughly $3 billion in today's currency) to compensate the slaveholders for their losses. To pay the indemnity, the Haitian government took out loans from French banks which added interest payments to the crushing debt load. Though the amount of the indemnity was later reduced to 60 million francs by France, the cycle of debt only worsened. By 1898, fully half of Haiti's government budget went to paying France and the French banks. By 1914, the proportion had climbed to 80 percent.

As Janvier furiously put it, Haitians had been forced to pay for their land - "this little stretch of land of which we are the masters," which they were "jealously keeping" for their descendants - not once or twice but three times. They first paid for it through their ancestors, with "two centuries of blood and sweat." Then the Haitians paid for it during their revolution, through the "massive quantity of blood" spilled to win liberty and independence. And after all that, they still have to pay for it in cash that passed from Haiti into France's treasury for generations.

What might have been done with this money in Haiti itself? How much could have been created with it? We will never know. The indemnity was certainly not the only force sapping Haiti's finances. The government maintained a massive military, and corruption and mismanagement also took their toll. So did the country's civil wars, and the repeated demands from foreign merchants in Haiti - sometimes literally backed up by gunships - to be compensated for property lost during the fighting. But the indemnity represented a constant leak of funds out of the country for nearly a century. Ultimately, of course, the cost was borne by Haitian farmers, the descendants of the same slaves who had been "lost" by the French slaveholders.

The demands of the French were soon surpassed by the pressures of a new and powerful imperial force. Military officials of the United States considered Haiti strategically important, while American entrepreneurs were eager to build new plantations in Haiti as they have elsewhere in the region. In 1915, the marines landed in Haiti, ostensibly in order to reestablish political order after a bloody coup. They stayed for twenty years.

The U.S. occupation transformed Haiti in ways that are still playing out today. The United States, like other colonial powers, touted its building of schools and roads, and it is still recognized and appreciated for having brought significant medical assistance. But while the United States justified the occupation as a project to improve and democratize Haiti's political institutions, it ultimately exacerbated the rift within the society. As more and more U.S. agricultural companies entered Haiti, they deprived peasants of their land. The result was that, for the first time in its history, large numbers of Haitians left the country, looking for work in nearby Caribbean islands and beyond. Others moved to the capital of Port-au-Prince, which the United States had made into Haiti's center of trade at the expense of the regional ports. In the decades that followed, the capital's growth continued, uncontrolled and ultimately disastrous, while the countryside suffered increasing immiseration.

The U.S. occupation also deepened Haiti's economic and political dependence on outside powers. During the second half of the twentieth century, the extent of foreign support has often become one of the most important factors determining the political destiny of Haitian rulers - frequently more important than popular support within the country. When the legitimacy of a political leader is established by outside forces rather than a nation's own population, of course, the results are rarely good for that population. François Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude, the Haitian dictators whose regimes were legendary for their brutality and terror, used U.S. support to stay in power for decades while driving hundreds of thousands of their countrymen into exile. Today, U.S. influence over Haiti is so well established as to seem almost unremarkable. After the 2010 earthquake Haitians, noted with little surprised that Bill Clinton, in his role as cochair of the international commission overseeing Haitian reconstruction, often seems to hold more power over the country than does Haiti's elected president.

All these factors have contributed to a powerful sense of political exhaustion surrounding Haiti's future. A succession of military regimes has left the country with almost no functioning social infrastructure. Ever since popular president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was violently overthrown in 2004, Haiti has been policed largely by foreign troops under U.N. command. Haiti's proud independence has been eroded, too, by the thousands of foreign organizations that have flocked to the country over the years with projects for improvements and reform. For all their work, though, hunger, poverty, and disease still stalk much of the population.

In the cities, the last decades have seen an increase in violent crime, including drug trafficking and kidnapping, while the situation in rural Haiti, where the majority of the population still lives, is increasingly desperate. The soil is severely depleted; generations of intensive agriculture and deforestation have taken their toll. As the population has grown and parcels of land have been divided into smaller and smaller bits, the social and agricultural strategies that worked well for Haitian peasants into the early decades of the twentieth century have become increasingly unsustainable. At the same time, the solutions prescribed by foreign powers and international organizations have largely turned out to be ineffective or worse.

Haiti 120419.jpg

"Ladies and gentlemen, come and see," beckons novelist Lyonel Trouillot in a searing account of life in contemporary Haiti. "This isn't a country here but an epic failure factory, an excuse for a place, a weed lot, an abyss for tightrope-walkers, blindman's bluff for this sightless saddled with delusions of grandeur... proud mountains reduced to dust dumped in big helpings into the cruciform maws of sick children who crouch waiting in the hope of insane epiphanies, behaving badly and swamped besides, bogged down in their devil's quagmires." "Our history," he laments, "is a corset, a stifling cell, a great searing fire."

That history, however, represents the only foundation upon which a different Haiti might be built. And it can - indeed must - serve as a source of inspiration, and even hope. Despite all its tragedy, Haiti's past shows the remarkable, steadfast, and ongoing struggle of a people to craft an alternative to the existence that others wanted to impose on them. Throughout Haiti's existence, reformers and rebels have attacked authoritarian leaders and exclusive institutions in the effort to bring something better into being. Even when these attempts have failed, they serve as touchstones, sources of inspiration for confronting Haiti's present crisis.

"Haiti disturbs," sociologist Jean Casimir likes to say. It disturbs of course because of its poverty and its suffering. But it also disturbs because, throughout its history, Haiti's people have repeatedly turned away from social and political institutions designed to achieve profits and economic growth, choosing to maintain their autonomy instead. The Haitian population has been told for two centuries, as it is told today, that it must change, adapt, modernize. No doubt some change is needed; but what has largely been offered to Haiti's population in the guise of foreign advice is simply a precarious place at the bottom of the global order.

Haitians have consistently refused such offers. In 1883, Janvier explained that he was more than happy for outsiders to come to Haiti to enrich themselves through commerce. "But please," he asks, "spare us your advice... We want to do things ourselves." Haitians might be "stubborn" and "proud" of their independence. But they had their reasons. No one else in the world had ever "paid as dearly for the right to say, while stomping their foot on the ground: 'This is mine, and I can do with it what I want!'"

Faced with various envoys, missionaries, and experts from the inside and outside the country, many Haitian communities have - often with impressive patience and a marked lack of hostility - steadfastly resisted all attempts to make them abandon their historic aspirations. A population born of slave revolution, they have insisted on holding on to way of life predicated on refusing the return of the plantation system or anything that looks like it. They have paid more and more for that refusal as their situation has grown increasingly difficult. Nevertheless, under incredible duress, Haitians remain as determined as ever to make their world on their own terms, to use it to their own ends and not those of others.

The social cohesion that has resulted from this long historical process was made dramatically visible by the 2010 earthquake. Many outside observers expected that, given the massive difficulties and lack of security and Haiti even before the disaster, there would be a complete social breakdown - as there might well be in many places where the state has essentially evaporated.

But as aid workers and journalists arrived in the country, they were surprised at the level of organization they encountered. Television anchors kept asking expectantly when the looting is going to begin, but reporters in Haiti instead described most communities as rapidly mobilizing to deliver mutual aid. In many disasters, of course, common citizens are the first responders to the crisis, and Haiti was no different: neighbors, family members, passersby dug people out of the rubble with hammers, rocks, or their bare hands. But even if the initial rescue work was done, when the solidarity of emergency response might have given way under the strain of dealing with a catastrophe, the people of Haiti largely continued to look after one after another. In many areas Haitians got no assistance at all for many days, even weeks. It was not the government but the networks that criss cross the country - neighborhood organizations, religious groups, extended families - that tended the injured, set up camps, fed one another, sang and prayed and mourned together.

1953. Vintage photo, Haitian woman

The fact that they had to do so much on their own is appalling. But that they did it all so shows clearly that Haiti, despite its massive poverty and it's almost total lack of a functioning government, is not a place of chaos. Life in Haiti is not organized by the state, or along the lines that many people might expect or want it to be. But it does draw on a set of complex and resilient social institutions that have emerged from a historic commitment to self-sufficiency and self-reliance. And it is only through collaboration with those institutions that reconstruction can truly succeed.

The Haiti of today cannot be understood without knowledge of its complex and often tragic history. Against visions of Haiti that see it only as a place of disaster and failure, a country lacking democratic principles and civil society, the pages that follow also highlight Haiti's legacy of a political struggle within the country, and Haitians' historical insistence on fashioning a way of life predicated on equality and autonomy. For it is now more vital than ever to remember that Haiti has had its triumphs, as distant as they often seem. Haiti's founding revolution - the only successful slave revolt in the history of the world - has continued to resonate in Haiti's society and culture for the past two centuries. The promise of that revolution, disparaged and undermined by the powerful both within and outside Haiti, has remained unfulfilled but it has never disappeared. [2]

Modern History[]

After World War II

At the time of the late 18th century Haitian Revolution, perhaps 50,000 Haitian white sugar Planters, free blacks, and slaves settled in the United States in New Orleans, New York, and other cities but particularly Philadelphia. More recently the U.S. military occupation of Haiti educated Haitians who resisted U.S. intervention. Over 90% of these Haitians were blacks and mulattos, many of whom settled in the Harlem section of Manhattan. There they worked in the Garment industry or became importers or retailers. Like more recent arrivals, their everyday language was a creole based partly on French.

After World War II, Haitian women were recruited for work as maids in Los Angeles, Washington, and other places. Others migrated to the Bahamas to replace upwardly-mobile Bahamians in farm labor and menial service jobs. However, most Haitian immigrants to the U.S. have come since 1957, the beginning of the Duvalier dictatorships. During the 1960's and 1970's, a great many professional students and politicians opposed Duvalier's policies and came to America later joined by spouses and other family members. Presumably, such middle-class migrants constituted most of the Haitian population outside Florida and the largest metropolitan areas in 1980.

However as political and economic conditions in Haiti worsened in the 1970s, relatively few were well-educated people immigrated especially to Florida. Because so many Haitians have settled illegally in the US and have wished to avoid contact with the government officials, the population of Haitian ancestry may have been substantially undercounted in the 1980 census.

New York and other Northern cities

Michael Vedrine 408.jpg

The importance of New York City for Haitians is indicated by the fact in 1980 over half the people of Haitian ancestry in the entire country lived in that city. Many Haitians have became taxi drivers and those who had been in business on the island have often done the same here, serving a predominantly Haitian clientele. A Haitian neighborhood has appeared on Manhattan's Upper West Side when many new arrivals settle for a few years amid the Brownstone and high rise apartments and Welfare hotels have been Haitian Dominican and Puerto Rican stores restaurants and clubs although Haitians have tended to congregate socially among themselves they have been able to buy familiar foods and shops run by English or Spanish speaking West Indians.

The largest settlement has been in Brooklyn where the residents of some apartment houses supervised by Haitians are almost all Haitian for those who could afford to move from Brooklyn or Manhattan the most pretty prestigious housing in the city has been in parts of Queens that borough has been the center of Haitian nightlife in New York City and home to the lighter-skinned elite.

In New York and other cities Haitians have generally settled and black residential areas they have kept to themselves socially and often use Creole to accentuate their distinctiveness from most American blacks while remaining almost invisible to whites in the surrounding areas after some Haitians move from New York to Boston in the 1960s hoping for a quiet or life better jobs and cheaper housing others came directly from Haiti the community has been centered in some of the Cities large black neighborhoods but also has become dispersed into nearby cities in Evanston, Cook County, Illinois many in the community of several hundred have worked in factories hospitals nursing homes and others are maids in private homes

South Florida

Direct migration to South Florida begin in late 1972 when the arrival of a boatload of refugees proved that it was possible to seal in a primitive craft from Haiti across the Gulf Stream to Florida's south east coast. People increasingly took the risk of hazardous voyages and small ships in order to be smuggled from Haiti to the coast of Florida. The flow increased in 1977 as the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic destinations of earlier Haitian labor migration begin persecuting and expelling Haitians. At the same time, conditions in Haiti worsened and the United States and Canada assigned fewer visas for Haitians.

For several years boats landed frequently on the coast of Southern Florida with the escapees usually requesting political asylum. Most such requests were refused and until 1982, many Haitians were jailed in the Miami area or in Puerto Rico. The plight of these Haitians was well-publicized for a few years in 1981. The flow diminished when the Haitian government acted to reduce immigration and the United States turned back boats. The illegal entry of so many poor foreign blacks has led to much local resentment among both blacks and whites

Most Haitians in Miami in 1980 where young single adults typically illiterate and unskilled males but some us-born children had already appeared north of Miami-Downtown. Haitians have formed the Little Haiti in the area of low cost housing near jobs and warehousing and garment factories. Other Haitians have become farm Workers in the Miami (Dade County), Belle Glade (Palm Beach County), and Clewiston (Hendry County) areas. Many have joined the annual streams of migrant workers heading north to pick strawberries, tomatoes, pecans, peaches, apples, and vegetables at various places from Northern Florida to New York State. Haitians have mixed little with other farm workers because of cultural differences and the frustration exhibited over Haitian intrusion in the labor market


General Geography[]

Main article: Geography of Haiti



With an area estimated at more than 10,425 sq mi. (27,000 km2), the Republic of Haiti with its satellite islands (La Gonâve, La Tortue (the Turtle), Île-à-Vache the Cow Island, les Cayemites, la Navase, la Grande Caye and the other Islands of the Territorial Sea) occupies more than one-third (36.0%) of the island of Hispaniola.

The island of Hispaniola is a volcanic island belonging to the Greater Antilles, located in the Caribbean Sea, between South America and Central America. It neighbors the island of Cuba to the west, and the island of Puerto Rico, to the east.

The Republic of Haiti occupies the western part of the island. It is located in the center of Greater Antilles, between 18 and 20 degrees north latitude and 71.5 and 75 degrees west longitude. She is limited to the north by the Atlantic Ocean, to the east by the Dominican Republic and to the south by the Caribbean Sea.

Hispaniola is a volcanic island that was formed in the Upper Paleocene. Volcanoes on the island are no longer active. Today, Haiti is composed of several mountainous massifs with respectively from north to south, the northern massif in the Artibonite Region, the Montagnes Noires, and the Chaîne des Matheux further south. The level of the peninsula of the south-east, one finds the Massif de la Hotte which culminates to 2,347 m and Massif de la Selle which rises to 2,680 m. With an area of ​​27,750 square kilometers, it is a rugged country; more than 60% of the lands have slopes greater than 20%. Port-au-Prince is located in the vast Cul-de-Sac Plain, located between the Massif des Matheux and the Chaîne de la Selle.

Administrative Divisions[]

Main article: Departments of Haiti

Haiti is divided into ten departments (provinces):

Map of Haiti

Main article: Geography of Haiti

Haiti's terrain consists mainly of rugged mountains with small coastal plains and river valleys. The east and central part is a large elevated plateau.

The biggest city is the capital Port-au-Prince with 2 million inhabitants, followed by Cap-Haïtien with 600,000.



From a topographic point of view, most of it, nearly three-quarters of its land, is mountainous. It is very rough, since it is crossed by three main chains and by a large number of secondary mountain ranges. The peaks reach 8,800 feet (2,680 meters) Pic de la Selle (Saddle Peak), in the southern part; about 6,900 feet (2,100 meters) in the central range and just under 5,000 feet (1,500) meters in the north. Along the coast, the plains border the highlands where they form indentations at each location. Although the Republic of Haiti is slightly smaller in area than then Belgium, its coastline of 932 miles (1,500 km) is almost as extensive as that of France. Located in the Greater Antilles, the Republic of Haiti is in the Caribbean Basin and its coasts are bathed in the North by the Atlantic Ocean and in the South by the Caribbean Sea. It is limited to the West by Cuba (55 miles/(90 Km)) and by Jamaica (118 miles/(190 Km)) and to the east by the Dominican Republic with almost 240 miles (386 km) of border.

Major territorial divisions

During the pre-Columbian period, the island of Haiti was divided into five (5) Kingdoms known as caciquats; (Marien, Xaragua, Maguana, Magua, and Higuey). With colonization of the western part of the island by the French, the geographical unity of colonized party (Santo Domingo) bore the name of Parish. In 1806, in the aftermath of independence, without eliminating the geographical unit of then "parish", 59 large areas, grouped into thirteen 13 cantons and into four departments were counted. It should be noted, however, that the Constitutional Review of 1816 adopted the term "commune" to refer to the "parish". However, it was not until the law of October 17, 1821 and the constitution of 1843 to consecrate the name adopted in 1816 definitively.

Thus, the decree of July 11, 1843 carried the division of the territory of the Island of Haiti to 6 departments, 17 townships, 82 communes and 29 boroughs or neighborhoods. Later, the cantons became boroughs, some of which (Petit-Goâve, Aquin) maintain their old configuration.

In 1881, changes were made and the political and administrative division of the territory of Haiti was thus defined: 5 departments, 27 districts, 86 communes, 19 districts, fifty-one 51 military posts and 503 rural sections. Whereas in 1919, after other modifications, 5 departments, 27 districts, 92 communes, 76 districts, 35 military posts and 518 rural sections were enumerated.

Later, in 1954, the number of communes had risen to 113. A decrease in the number of neighborhoods (31) was observed. The rural sections, which since the constitution of 1946 are an integral part of the national territory, amount to 555. Three years later, Article 2 of the 1957 Constitution increased the number of departments to nine. This revision, however, was not specified until August 1976. As of that date, there were 35 arrondissements, 125 communes, 45 districts and 560 rural sections. The law of 18 September 1978 widened the number of boroughs to 41; of communes, 130; 60 arrondissements, 562 rural sections. After this date and before 1987 already the number of communes was increased to 133 and the districts 57.

General Geology

Ayiti 121818.jpg

Haiti is located at the northern end of the Caribbean plate. It's a subduction tectonic plate that slides gently under the plate of South America. The island of Hispaniola is covered by a number of active faults, that is, causing earthquakes recent to the terrestrial scale (a few hundred years).

Three main active faults lie in the Hispaniola, with South to the north: ‐ The fault of the southern Presqu'ile, also known as the Enriquillo, - The northern rift that passes through the Cap-Haïtien region, ‐ The North Hispaniolan rift that is located in the ocean several kilometers north of Haiti.

The nature of the Soil

Soil composition reveals:

-a mixture of sandstones and clays in the upper horizon,

-a mixture of pebbles and clays in the intermediate horizon,

-A much more clayey and darker horizon in the lower part.


Haiti has a humid tropical climate influenced by northeasterly winds. The humid tropical climate is characterized by the alternation of dry seasons (November to March) and rainy seasons (April to October). Nevertheless, because of its irregular topography, the country represents a large diversity of microclimates. The annual rainfall varies from 15 to 150 inches depending on the region, with an average of 55 inches of rain over more than half of the country and only 20 inches in the northwest. The southern regions and Ouest are quite dry. The plains, in particular the Cul-de-Sac Plain, are very dry. Rainfall is higher in mountainous areas.

PAP 120618.jpg



From a formal economy perspective, Haiti’s roads and ports are an impediment to commerce. However, one has only to watch twenty row boats offload in three days a 1,500- ton freighter of rice, maize and beans to appreciate the effectiveness of the local informal sector ‘merchant-marines.’ The same can be said for the distribution of commodities to the most remote rural areas.

The main infrastructure in Haiti that impacts private sector development includes main roads, rural roads, ports, airports, power and telecommumcations.


Main article: Transportation in Haiti

The World Bank regards Haiti's network as small for a country of Haiti's characterstics. Transportation infrastructure has suffered from neglect. According to the World Bank, IDB and people interviewed, most ofthe rural network is in extremely poor state. The condItion ofthe roads has deteiorated greatly since 1991 (This is the date of the last major survey) That survey reported 34% of road network to be in fair condition, 72% ofthe paved network in fair condition, 51% of gravel and 87% of dIrt roads in poor to bad condition) The system providedes poor access to rural areas.

Port-au-Prince streets suffer acute traffic congestion, resulting in high vehicle operating costs and transit times. Some ofthe most significant planned improvements are main roads. The Road Rehabilitation Program is pnmarily funded by IDA and IDB, ED and KFW. It is planned that the entire main road system will have been rehabilitated (WIth the possible exception of 75kms of RN3, stIll unfinanced).

Rural Roads

The Improvements are estimated to serve over 750,000 rural residents The bulk of the secondary and tertiary road network will not be improved under this program. The GoH has accepted that road management and mamtenance activities will be reorganized and that maintenance activity will be shifted from force account to private sector and local communities. The capability of the private sector to carry out road maintenance is considerable. The World Bank cities 3 firms as being capable of undertaking major works, and 28 small and medium-sized firms with the capacity to carry out periodic and routine maintenance. Without expansion, the planned Improvements will not address the rehabilitation and ongoing mamtenance. Thus, in the absence of additional resources, much of Haiti's rural population will remain isolated, and unconnected with market centers.

Highway Administration, Maintenance and Planning

Education in Haiti

DDT is responsible for road and transport planning, engineering, construction, maintenance and axle load controls on the inter-city network. DTP is responsible for, inter alia, street planning and maintenance in Port-au-Prince and within the limits of secondary towns. In general, most engineering and detailed design studies and construction supervision are carried out by consultants under DDT and DTP's supervision. Large rehabilitation and new construction works are carried out by private contractors. A pilot program of maintenance by the Community Action Maintenance Program (CAMP), under which road sections are maintained under contract with local communities, supervised by DDT's foremen, was successfully implemented in 1990.


Haiti has 40 mooring ports, including 2 main seaports (Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haïtien) and 12 minor ports.

7 of Haiti's 9 largest cities are ports. The infrastructure varies in condition, and a priority should be to make immediate use of infrastructure that can be rendered useful. Port-au-Prince is the principal port.

• The wharf at Jacmel is near collapse, and the ports at Les Cayes and Jacmel are heavily silted.

• The port at Saint-Marc is functional, but swamps in heavy seas. Container storage for the port is at a distance, and requires transit through the city's main thoroughfare.

Gonaïves' port is functional, but lacks customs facilities. A private investment in a port near Gonaïves is in the stages of operations.

Cap-Haïtien's port is the closest Haitian port to the US. It is a large facility, wIth large storage areas. The Cap-Haïtien community has been trying to attract a Caribbean shipper, Tropical Shipping, to make regular, scheduled stops.

All of these ports have been topics of discussion for new investment. Jacmel Port could be rehabilitated and dredged, or rebuilt at Côtes-de-Fer, nearby. Les Cayes could be improved and extended. However, a private group has advanced plans to build a major port facility at Saint-Louis-du-Sud, about 30 kms (20 miles) from Les Cayes.

The new port at Gonaïves offers good potential, but blockages to its operation need to be settled. APN is the State Port Authority overseeing the country's ports. APN has tariff jurisdiction over all public and private ports, terminals and wharves. Port charges are the same for all ports, and changes in tanffs require a Presidential order. APN also has operational jurisdiction over all public ports, and is responsible for the development and maintenance of port infrastructure.

God loves Haiti 122818.jpg

Accordmg to the IMF, IFC and several international agencies and domestic businesses, the Port authority suffers from inefficient port handling operations and inappropriate management structure that combme to make Port-au-Prince the most expensive port in the Caribbean Region. Per the IFC Industry sources in Haiti have suggested that this is primarily due to institutional corruption, an underproductive workforce, onerous work rules, inadequate facilities, and lack of appropriate equipment. As a result, Haiti's imports may be overpriced in the domestic market and exports uncompetitive in world markets, thus affecting the overall economic development of the country. Wharfage tariff rates per ton of containerized cargo are between 2 and 8 times more expensive than in the US and other Caribbean ports. Port-au-Prince's wharfage tariffs for breakbulk and bulk cargo with those at competitor ports in the region indicate an even greater cost dIsadvantage to Haiti. The GoH accepts the need for a major restructuring and privatization of port operations. The modalities for this are under consideration and need to be concreted and implemented. The IFC presents 2 basic options for the ports:

• Restructuring of port operations with some pnvate sector provision of services

• Concession (IFC recommendation) Under the concession arrangement, all port operating functions would be privatized and concessioned out to pnvate sector (foreign and domestIc), who undertake all above-ground port investments.


Electricity of Haiti [3]



Main article: Politics of Haiti
“It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
-The Federalist Papers

Haiti is a presidential republic with an elected president and National Assembly. However, some claim it to be an authoritarian government in practice. On 29 February, 2004, a rebellion culminated in the defacto resignation of president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and it is unknown if the current political structure will remain.

The constitution was introduced in 1987 and is modeled on those of the United States and France. Having been either completely or partially suspended for some years, it was fully reinstated in 1994.


Main article: Economy of Haiti

See also: The Creole Pig


Haiti remains the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. Comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti falling behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s. Haiti now ranks 150th of 175 countries in the UN’s Human Development Index.

About 80% of the population lives in abject poverty, making it the second poorest country in the world. 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 President René Préval took office in February 1996, although the informal economy is growing. Failure to reach agreements with international sponsors have denied Haiti badly needed budget and development assistance.



Main article: Demographics of Haiti


According to the projections of the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Informatics, the population is 10,085,214 inhabitants (2010). The metropolitan area of ​​Port-au-Prince covers an area of ​​152 km² and has a population of 2 296 386 inhabitants in 2093, i.e. almost 5% of the total population and 60% of the national urban population. The metropolitan region concentrates more than 65% of Haiti's economic activities and 85% of tax revenue.

Population density map

Although Haiti averages about 270 people per square kilometer, its population is concentrated most heavily in urban areas, coastal plains, and valleys. Around 80-85% of Haitians are predominately of African descent, with most having other racial admixture in their lineage. Only 15-25% in the black population are purely of African descent. Europeans such as the French, Spanish, Germans, Italians, Polish, Dutch and English have all settled on the island. Immigrants from the Middle East such as Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians have also settled. There are a number of Jewish descendants. People of East Indian and East Asian descent are present as well. The rest of the population is comprised of Mulattoes, Europeans, Arabs and Asians. Many Haitians also have indigenous Taino Indian heritage. About two thirds of the population live in rural areas.

French is one of two official languages, and is spoken and/or understood by a large number of the people. Nearly all Haitians speak Krèyol(Creole), the country's other official language. English is increasingly spoken among the young and in the business sector.

Roman Catholicism is the state religion, which the majority professes. Protestantism is the second most practiced religion. Only a very small amount of Haitians practice voodoo traditions.


Main articles: Culture of Haiti

Haitian male models


Haiti Observer [4]

Wikipedia [5]

Taino culture: [6]

Road conditions: [7]

Stories: [8]

Miscellaneous topics[]

External links[]


  • [10] - Plantations and sugar mills

Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
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Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas¹ | Barbados | Belize | Dominica | Grenada | Guyana | Haiti | Jamaica | Montserrat | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Suriname | Trinidad and Tobago
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¹ member of the community but not the Caribbean (CARICOM) Single Market and Economy.
http://www.wikicities.com/images/Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses content from the English-language version of Wikipedia. The original article was at Haiti. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Haiti Local Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.