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Country Profiles: Haiti


Flag, map and facts courtesy of CIA World Factbook 2002

Background One of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. 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.
Location
Map of Haiti
Caribbean, western one-third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic
Area total: 27,750 sq km
land: 27,560 sq km
water: 190 sq km
Area - comparative slightly smaller than Maryland
Climate tropical; semiarid where mountains in east cut off trade winds
Terrain 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%
permanent crops: 13%
other: 67% (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
Geography - note shares island of Hispaniola with Dominican Republic (western one-third is Haiti, eastern two-thirds is the Dominican Republic)
Population 7,063,722
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.)
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
Ethnic groups black 95%, mulatto and white 5%
Religions 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
Languages French (official), Creole (official)
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 45%
male: 48%
female: 42.2% (1995 est.)
Government type elected government
Capital Port-au-Prince
Independence 1 January 1804 (from France)
Legal system based on Roman civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
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)

Flag of 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 U.S. 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.
GDP - per capita purchasing power parity - $1,700 (2001 est.)
Population below poverty line 80% (1998 est.)
Labor force 3.6 million (1995)
note: shortage of skilled labor, unskilled labor abundant (2001)
Unemployment rate widespread unemployment and underemployment; more than two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs (2001)
Industries sugar refining, flour milling, textiles, cement, light assembly industries based on imported parts
Agriculture - products coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, sorghum; wood
Exports - commodities manufactures, coffee, oils, cocoa
Imports - commodities food, manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, raw materials

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