Repiblik d Ayiti
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The Republic of Haiti comprises the western third of
the Hispaniola island. In the east, Haiti borders on the
Dominican Republic, in the south on the Caribbean Sea
and in the north on the Atlantic. In the west, the
approximately 95 km wide windward passage separates
Haiti from the island of Cuba. With an area of 27 750
km², the country is about the size of Albania. The
islands of Vache, Grande Cayemite, Gonâve and Ile de la
Tortue (Tortuga) also belong to the national territory.
Haiti is the most mountainous country in the
Caribbean. There are only a few larger levels between
the individual mountain ranges, such as the Plaine du
Nord and the approximately 300 m high Plateau Central in
the south. Two peninsulas encompass the 120 km wide Gulf
of Gonâve. The northern peninsula is crossed by the
Massif du Nord, the southern by the Massif du Sud and
the Massif de la Selle. Here is the country's highest
peak, Pic de la Selle at 2,680 m.
The longest river in the country is the Artibonite,
which originates in the Dominican Republic and flows
into the Gulf of Gonâve after a length of around 170 km.
Etang Soumâtre, a highly saline lake, lies on the Cul-de-Sac
plain on the southeastern border of Haiti.
The capital, Port-au-Prince, is at the southeast end
of the Gulf of Gonâve.
Haiti's climate is tropical, humid and warm, with
consistently high temperatures all year round. The
average values on the coast are between 25 °„ C and 29
°„C, inland it is one to two degrees less. The average
amount of precipitation is up to 2,000 mm, most of the
precipitation falls in April / May and September /
October. On the south-facing slopes of the mountains and
in the plains, the amount of precipitation is
significantly lower and is around 500 mm per year.
Hurricanes can occur especially in late summer.
Flora and fauna
Haiti's territory was originally covered by tropical
forest, which has now been largely cleared. Less than
10% of the country's area is still forested, resulting
in soil erosion, desertification and species
deprivation. On the plains there is dry and moist
savannah with cacti, on the coast mangrove forests.
Remains of the original vegetation and the variety of
plants can still be found, for example, in the Massif de
la Selle and in the Macaya National Park.
Due to the extensive destruction of the natural
habitat, the fauna is extremely poor in species. Only in
the more remote regions of the mountains do reptiles,
amphibians, birds and insects occur in many different
species. The waters off the coast of Haiti are rich in
About 8.12 million people live in the Republic of
Haiti, and another 3 million Haitians are abroad. The
largest city is the capital, Port-au-Prince, in whose
metropolitan area around 2.5 million people live. Other
cities include Cap-Haïtien with around 113,500 residents
and Gonaïves with around 65,000.
The largest population group with around 95% are the
descendants of black African slaves, mulattoes
(crossbreeds of blacks and whites) make up around 4.9%
of the population. Christianity is the predominant
religion: around 80% are Catholics, another 16% belong
to Protestant communities and sects. The voodoo cult is
widespread and is often practiced in parallel with
The two official languages in Haiti are French and
Creole, a mixture of French and African dialects. French
is used by just under 10% of the population, most of
whom belong to the upper class.
Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world,
the standard of living of the population is very low.
Social and medical care is inadequate, more than 80% of
people live in extreme poverty. The consequences are an
extremely high infant mortality rate (almost 74 per
1,000 births) and a low life expectancy of 53 years on
average. According to COUNTRYAAH,
the population growth is 1.6%. The high birth
rate of an average of five children per Haitian is
offset by an equally high HIV infection rate (5.6%).
Despite compulsory schooling, literacy is only around
Haiti is a presidential republic under the 1987
constitution (repealed in 1988-89, fully reinstated in
1994). The head of state is the president elected by the
people for five years (since May 2011 Michel Martelly).
A second term immediately following is not possible. The
President appoints the Prime Minister to head the
government, who is usually the leader of the majority
party in Parliament (Evans Paul since December 2014).
The legislature lies with the parliament, which
consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives
with 99 members, elected by the people for a four-year
term, and the Senate with 30 members. A third of the
senators are elected every two years, the term of office
is six years.
The legal system is based on the French model.
Haiti is divided into ten departments.
Decades of dictatorship, corruption, civil wars and
natural disasters such as the severe earthquake in 2010
have brought Haiti to the brink of economic ruin. Almost
60% of the population live below the poverty line and
the unemployment rate is estimated at 65%. This makes
the republic the poorest country in the western world.
Almost two thirds of the workforce is employed in
agriculture. This sector contributes almost 30% to the
gross domestic product. Subsistence farming
predominates, for example mangoes, bananas, cassava,
sweet potatoes, rice and millet are grown. Coffee and
sugar cane are cultivated for export. Food has to be
imported on a large scale.
The industry is poorly developed and focuses on the
processing of agricultural products (sugar refinery).
Other areas are textile, building materials and light
industry (assembly of prefabricated parts). Tourism
plays no role due to the tense political situation.
The United States is the most important trading
partner for imports (food, fuel, industrial goods,
machinery, vehicles) and for exports (textiles, oils,
cocoa, mangoes, coffee).
The road network covers a total of around 4 100 km,
of which about a quarter is paved. The most important
port is Port-au-Prince, there is also an international
Currency is the Gourde (= 100 centimes).