OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Haiti
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 27,750 Sq Km (10,714 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 7,879,800
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Haiti is located in the Caribbean
Sea and occupies the western third of the Island of Hispaniola.
It is bound by the Dominican Republic to the east, the Atlantic
Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south. The
country is a continuous highland situated between five mountain
ranges which cover 75% of the land area. The ranges are
the Massif du Nord, the Montagnes Noires, the Chaine de
Mateaux, the Seirra de Neiba and the Massif de la Hotte
or Massif de la Selle. The lowlands account for 25% of the
land area, with the four major flatlands being the central
plateau, the northern plain, the Artibonite Plain and the
Cul-de-Sac. Haiti has over 100 small rivers with the principal
rivers being the Artibonite, Trois Rivieres, Grande Anse,
Massacre or Rio Djabon and Pedernales. Major Cities (pop.
est.); Port-au-Prince 752,600, Carrefour 241,200, Delmas
200,300, Cap-Haitien 92,100, Gonaives 63,300 (1992). Land
Use; forested 5%, pastures 18%, agricultural-cultivated
33%, other 44% (1993).
CLIMATE: Haiti has a tropical climate, although the country is
generally semiarid due to the fact that the moist trade winds are cut off
by the mountains in the middle of the island. Rainfall varies considerably
over a short distance with the average annual precipitation on the north
coast and mountainous interior varying from 1,475 mm (273 inches) to 1,950
mm (77 inches) while the west side of the country receives only 500 mm
(20 inches). Average temperature ranges in Port-au-Prince are from 25 degrees
Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees
Fahrenheit) in July.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Black Africans
who account for 95% of the population. The remainder are Mulattoes who
are of mixed White and Black descent and account for 4% of the population
while other ethnic minorities include small numbers of French, Danes, Germans,
Syrians, Lebanese and Corscians.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 242 persons per sq km
(626 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 29.6% urban, 70.4% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 49.1% male, 50.9% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
55.0 years male, 56.0 years female (1989). Age Breakdown; 40% under 15,
28% 15 to 29, 16% 30 to 44, 10% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 31.0 per 1,000 (1989). Death Rate; 12.0 per 1,000 (1989). Increase
Rate; 19.0 per 1,000 (1989). Infant Mortality Rate; 92.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with around 80% of the population
Roman Catholic while 16% are Protestant and most of the population also
believe in Voodoo.
LANGUAGES: The official languages are French, although it is
spoken only by 10% of the population, and a Haitian Creole, the national
language derived from French and African.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
76.9%, primary 15.2%, secondary 7.2%, higher 0.7% (1982). Literacy; literate
population aged 15 or over 2,096,900 or 53.0% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1946 military officers took
control of the government after riots broke out when Pres. Elie Lescot
attempted to unconstitutionally extend his term. In 1950 after a short
civilian rule Gen. Paul Magloire ousted Dusmarsais Estime and was in turn
deposed in 1956. In Sept. 1957 Dr Francois Duvalier was elected President
and established a single party state as well as the militia, known as the
National Security Volunteers, who enforced his rule. In 1964 he declared
himself President for life and ruled as dictator. In 1971, Haiti's constitution
was amended to allow the President to choose his successor. Upon his death
in Apr. 1971 his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier then only
19 years old declared himself President for life and also ruled as dictator.
The secret police enforced the policies of the Duvaliers often with the
use of violence and in the early 1970's large numbers of Haitians began
leaving their country because of poor economic conditions and severe treatment
by the secret police. The Haitians revolted against Duvalier in Dec. 1985
and in Feb. 1986 Baby Doc was forced into exile. Gen. Henri Namphy, commander
of Haiti's armed forces, became head of the interim government and in 1987
Haiti adopted a new constitution that provided for a new government headed
by a President and a National Assembly elected by the people. In Jan. 1988
new elections were held and Leslie Manigat was elected President, however,
in June 1988 Namphy overthrew the civilian government and declared himself
President. Later that year Lt.Gen. Prosper Avril seized power and declared
himself President and ruled with a civilian majority cabinet. In Mar. 1990
Avril stepped down after surviving two coup attempts in 1989 and was replaced
by the Supreme Court Justice. In Dec. 1990 free presidential elections
were won by Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide and in Jan. 1991 Dr Roger Lafontant
forced the Supreme Court Justice to resign and declared himself President.
The army subsequently stormed the Presidential Palace and arrested Lafontant.
On Feb. 7, 1991 Aristide was inaugurated and appointed Rene Preval Prime
Minister. On Sept. 30 Pres. Aristide was ousted by a military coup resulting
in the death of several hundred people and Gen. Raoul Cedras taking control
of the government. Following which the Army forced the Assembly to remove
Gen. Cedras and install Joseph Nerette, a supreme court judge, as interim
President. In Oct. 1991 the USA imposed a strict trade blockade at the
insistence of the OAS, that resulted in an deep economic downturn and led
to many Haitians attempting to flee the country in small boats. On June
19, 1992 under an agreement between the army, administration and parliamentary
leaders Marc Bazin, a 1990 presidential candidate, was inaugurated as Prime
Minister while interim Pres. Nerette resigned leaving the position vacant.
In Sept. 1992 delegates of the military-back regime and deposed Pres. Aristide
negotiated that 18 representatives of the OAS, with former Jamaican Prime
Minister Michael Manley as facilitator, should go to Haiti to monitor human
rights violations. During 1992 tens of thousands of Haitians applied for
political asylum in the USA, although the United States repatriated the
boat people flooding into Florida claiming they were economic refugees.
In 1993 the US government of Pres. Bill Clinton announced a US $1 billion
economic aid package if democracy was restored and harsher trade restrictions
if deposed Pres. Aristide was not restored to power, in an attempt to halt
the continuing influx of Haitian refugees. In Feb. 1993 Gen. Cedras agreed
to the deployment of several hundred human rights observers throughout
the country, although by June US and international pressure had failed
to move the military-backed regime to relinquish power. On June 23, 1993
the UN initiated a worldwide ban on oil and arms shipments to Haiti, that
resulted in talks beginning on June 27 in New York and accords being signed
between the military and Aristide on July 3, 1993. The Accord allowed for
the restoration of Aristide on Oct. 30, 1993 and the lifting of the embargo
upon the appointment of the Aristide-nominated Robert Malval as Prime Minister
as well as the resignation of Gen. Cedras on Oct. 15 and the replacement
of the Police Chief, Lieut. Col. Michel Francois. In Sept. and Oct. 1993
two supporters of Pres. Aristide were murdered by plain clothes affiliates
of Francois' police force while a dockside demonstration in October resulted
in a US ship with UN personnel retreating to international waters outside
of Haiti. The UN reimposed the embargo after neither Gen. Cedras or Lieut.
Col. Francois surrendered their office as agreed and Malcal announced his
intention to resign as of Dec. 15, 1993.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Gourde (G) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $2,479,000,000 (1992). Public
Debt; USD $617,600,000 (1993). Imports; USD $285,300,000 (1994). Exports;
USD $80,900,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $46,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; USD -$204,400,000 (1994). Economically Active Population; 2,679,140
or 41.1% of total population (1990). Unemployed; 50% (1994).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bananas, Bauxite, Cassava, Coffee, Copper,
Maize, Rice, Sisal, Sorghum, Sugar Cane, Timber.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Assembly of Imported Parts, Cement,
Food Processing, Forestry, Mining, Textiles, Tourism.
MAIN EXPORTS: Bauxite, Cocoa, Coffee, Essential Oils, Light Industrial
Manufacturing, Mangoes, Sisal, Sugar.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 4,000 km (2,485 mi)
(1988). Vehicles; cars 32,000 (1989), trucks and buses 21,000 (1989). Merchant
Marine; vessels 3 (1990), deadweight tonnage 429 (1990). Air Transport;
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 4 with a total circulation
of 17,500 (1993). Radio; receivers 270,000 (1994). Television; receivers
25,000 (1994). Telephones; units 39,000 (1993).
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