Facts About Haiti
Haiti occupies one-third of the island of Hispaniola, sharing a border with the Dominican Republic.
Haiti is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Brightness, cordiality, courtesy and hospitality characterize these people. They are also a very proud people. Work is rare in Haiti and 72% of the people live in the countryside, even though the majority don't own the land they live on.
Haiti means "High Country" which is well-suited. Four-fifths of the island is covered with mountains, reaching up to 2700 metres above sea-level.
Haiti is a country of extremes, with dry, desert-like regions and rainy, tropical areas.
Haiti has suffered severe ecological damage due to deforestation, resulting in mudslides and restrictions on drinkable water.
Haiti lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and is subjected to severe storms and flooding from June to October. The last major hurricane was Hurricane Georges in 1998, causing flash floods, and mudslides that took the lives of many people. It is estimated that over 160,000 people were left homeless after Hurricane Georges.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line, and 54% living in abject poverty. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale farming, which is vulnerable to the climate and natural disasters.
Haiti's economy has many problems due to a long history of corruption and violent government officials. Since 2004, about 8,000 peacekeepers from the United Nations maintain civil order. Haiti depends greatly on foreign aid from countries such as Canada and the United States, its biggest trading partners.
Most Haitians speak Creole, a language that is a combination of African and French.
For Haiti's lower class, living conditions are often worse than in rural areas. There is no access to health care, proper sanitation or safe affordable drinking water; however, the parents make a concerted effort to keep their children in school, knowing this is the only way to a better life.
Haiti lacks a proper health care system. For this reason, many Haitian suffer from illnesses that are preventable.
Haitian parents consider children gifts from God. Parents work hard provide for them, and ensure a good education. In return, when children grow up, they care for their aging parents.
80% of Haitians are Roman Catholic and 16% belong to Protestant churches. Along with their primary religious practices, most Haitians also practice some aspects of the voodoo religion. Voodoo has its roots in African beliefs, focusing on family spirits who help and protect.
One of Haiti's largest problems is its 53% illiteracy rate and since people are so poor, they cannot afford schools, teachers, supplies, etc. In rural areas, local churches provide the only opportunity for education.
The main food consumed in Haiti is cassava, millet and rice and numerous varieties of fruit. Considering that the average yearly income is barely $350.00, the people rarely have the opportunity to eat meat, fish or eggs. Malnutrition in the countryside is especially high. Malaria, tuberculosis, and hepatitis are of epidemic proportions. Families of up to 10 children often live in clay huts with thatched roofs. Often these miserable huts don't belong to them and they can be evicted if they don't pay their rent.
Males - 55 years
Females - 59 years