40 Interesting Facts About Haiti

  1. Haiti is one of two countries, along with the Dominican Republic, located on Hispaniola Island in the Caribbean. Haiti occupies the western third of the island.
  2. Haiti has a dispute with the USA on Navassa Island. This uninhabited island is located between Haiti and Jamaica. The USA claimed this island in 1857 due to the presence of a large amount of bird excrement used in fertilizer and gunpowder. It was declared a National Wildlife Refuge in 1999 by the US. But Haiti also claims this island, which has a rich coral ecosystem. (Source)
  3. Christopher Columbus was the first European to reach Haiti during his first voyage in 1492. Here, he and his companions built La Navidad, the first European settlement in the Americas. (Source)
  4. Haiti is the 2nd most populous (after Cuba) and the 3rd largest country (after Cuba and the Dominican Republic) in the Caribbean.
  5. Haiti was initially inhabited in 5000 BC. Taino were the indigenous people living in Haiti at the time of the arrival of Europeans during the 15th Century.
  6. The Spanish enslaved the local population and forced them to work tirelessly in gold mines. These local people (and most African slaves) almost vanished at the end of the 16th Century.
  7. African slaves working in sugarcane plantations made Haiti the richest French overseas territory in the 18th Century.
  8. The French took control of Haiti (western Hispaniola) during the 1660s and brought many slaves (from West Africa) to work in sugar plantations. Spain formally ceded this area to France in 1697 through a treaty.
  9. Haiti was a haven for pirates during the 16th and 17th Centuries. The French pirates played their role in establishing French rule in Haiti. (Source)
  10. The Zombie myth initially appeared in Haiti in the 17th and 18th Centuries among African slaves. After independence in 1804, it became part of Haiti’s folklore and the local Voodoo religion. (Source)
  11. Haitian Revolution is known as the only successful slave revolt in history. This mutiny started in 1791 against the rule of the French Republic. However, the local population later sided with the French against the invading forces of Britain and Spain. After defeating the invaders, a war broke out between France and the Haitians. France lost 50,000 out of 80,000 men. The independence was declared on 1st January 1804. Defeat in this war forced Napoleon Bonaparte to sell Louisiana territory to the US. (Source)
  12. Haiti was the second country in the Americas, after the USA, to gain independence from a colonial power.
  13. The 2010 Haiti earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.0, was the deadliest natural disaster in Haiti. It resulted in the deaths of 250,000 people, along with 300,000 injured and 5 million displaced.
    Relief work after 2010 Haiti Earthquake
    2010 earthquake was Haiti's deadliest natural disaster

  14. After a devastating earthquake, Haiti also faced a cholera outbreak in 2010. It was the first cholera epidemic in Haiti in more than a century, resulting in 665,000 cases and more than 8,100 deaths. (Source)
  15. Haiti has the lowest HDI (human development index) in Latin America and the Caribbean. It ranked 163 on the global index. (Source)
  16. Haiti has the highest wealth inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. The wealthiest 20% holds around 65% of its wealth, while the lowest 20% owns just 1% of the wealth. Just over 20% of urban households are poor, while this ratio is 70% in rural areas. (Source)
  17. The word Haiti comes from the indigenous Taino language, which means land of high mountains.
  18. Smallpox was initially recorded in the Americas during the 16th Century in Hispaniola (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic). It was the first place where Europeans contacted the local population. This infectious disease caused numerous deaths as the local population was not immune to smallpox.
  19. Soon after the independence, Haiti slaughtered the remaining French residents. Around 4,000 French white people were eradicated during this massacre, even after Haiti promised to protect them. (Source)
  20. Haiti captured the entire Hispaniola Island in 1822. The popular uprising in the Dominican Republic (1844-56) ended Haitian rule.
  21. The USA occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934 through U.S. Marines. The purpose of this occupation was to restore stability in the region after the assassination of the then Haitian President in July 1915. 
  22. La Citadelle Laferriere in Haiti is the largest fortress in the Western Hemisphere. It was built in 1820 and situated 3000 feet above sea level atop the mountain Bonnet a L’Eveque. In 1982, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Source)
  23. Cockfighting is the most favorite sport in Haiti. It is one of the two most-watched sports, along with soccer. (Source)
  24. The world’s largest solar-powered hospital is in Haiti. There are 1,800 solar panels on the rooftop of this hospital. These solar panels generate more energy than the requirement of the hospital. (Source)
  25. Haiti disbanded its military in 1995 due to its involvement in several coups and human rights abuses since independence. The govt. re-established a small military in 2017. (Source)
  26. In 1925, Jacmel in Haiti became the first city in the Caribbean region to receive electricity. Due to this reason, it is famous as the “city of light.” (Source)
  27. Essential oil from the roots of vetiver, a tall grass native to India, is a necessary ingredient in fine perfumes and fragrances. Haiti is the largest producer of vetiver oil in the world.
    Bottle of vetiver essential oil
    Haiti is the world's largest producer of vetiver oil

  28. Around 95% of Haiti's population has African origin (descendants of African slaves). The country has a small minority of mulattoes (mixed European and African descent).
  29. More than 80% of Haitians follow Christianity, and the majority (55%) are adherents of Roman Catholicism. Around 2% follow Vodou, a West African religion.
  30. Haiti is one of the most deforested countries in the world. Only 1% of its primary forests remain, while 42 of the 50 highest and largest mountains have lost all their primary forests. It is also negatively impacting biodiversity in Haiti. (Source)  
  31. Haiti is a haven for drug trafficking. Around 14% of all cocaine that enters the USA comes from Haiti. (Source)
  32. Haiti is the only country in the Caribbean and one of two nations in the Americas, along with Canada, to have French as an official language.
  33. Haitian Creole and French are the two official languages in the country. The majority of the population speak Haitian Creole, while Spanish and English are minority languages. 
  34. The first free elections in Haiti were held in 1990, 186 years after its independence.
  35. According to the Charity Commission report, Oxfam’s staff in Haiti sexually exploited the victims of the 2010 earthquake while the company tried to cover these incidents. It resulted in the resignation of the Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Executive of Oxfam GB. (Source)
  36. The child and maternal mortality rates in Haiti are the highest in the Western Hemisphere. They are comparable to high rates in the war-torn Afghanistan and some African countries. (Source)
  37. The highest numbers of HIV/AIDS patients in the Caribbean region are present in Haiti. There are around 150,000 HIV/AIDS-affected people in this country. (Source)
  38. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. More than 6 million Haitians live below the poverty line. (Source)
  39. Haiti has the lowest vehicles per capita ratio in the Caribbean. Only 12 among 1,000 Haitians own a car.
  40. Clothing makes up around 90% of Haiti’s export. The destination for around 83% of Haitian exports (worth $1 billion) is the USA. (Source)

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