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République d'Ayiti
Repiblik D'Ayiti

Republic of Haiti

Flag of Haiti Coat of Arms of Haiti
Motto
L'Union Fait La Force
Anthem
La Dessalinienne
Map of Haiti
RegionHispaniola
CapitalPort-au-Prince
Government Semi-presidential republic
President
- From 2006René Préval
President-elect
- 1858-2011Michel Martelly
Prime Minister
- From 2009Jean-Max Bellerive
Legislature National Assembly
- Upper houseSenate
- Lower houseChamber of Deputies
History
December 23, 1858Established
Area27,750 km²
Population
- 20119,719,932
 Density350.2/km²
GDP2011 (PPP)
- TotalUS$ 13 billion
- Per capitaUS$ 1,338
CurrencyGourde
Flag of None Empire of Haiti
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The Republic of Haiti is a semi-presidential republic on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean.


Background

The native Taino Amerindians - who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by COLUMBUS in 1492 - were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola. In 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island, which later became Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. In the late 18th century, Haiti's nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L'OUVERTURE. After a prolonged struggle, Haiti became the first black republic to declare independence in 1804. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. After an armed rebellion led to the forced resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE in February 2004, an interim government took office to organize new elections under the auspices of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Continued violence and technical delays prompted repeated postponements, but Haiti finally did inaugurate a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006. A massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010 with an epicenter about 15 km southwest of the capital, Port-au-Prince. An estimated 2 million people lived within the zone of heavy to moderate structural damage. The earthquake was assessed as the worst in this region over the last 200 years and massive international assistance will be required to help the country recover.[1]

Economy

Haiti is a free market economy that enjoys the advantages of low labor costs and tariff-free access to the US for many of its exports. Poverty, corruption, and poor access to education for much of the population are among Haiti's most serious disadvantages. Over the longer term, Haiti needs to create jobs for its young workforce and to build institutional capacity. Haiti's economy suffered a severe setback when a 7.0 magnitude earthquake destroyed much of its capital city, Port-au-Prince, and neighboring areas in January 2010. Already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty, the damage to Port-au-Prince caused the country's GDP to contract an estimated 5.1% in 2010. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, exacerbated by the country's widespread deforestation. US economic engagement under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act, passed in December 2006, has boosted apparel exports and investment by providing duty-free access to the US. Congress voted in 2010 to extend the legislation until 2020 under the Haitian Economic Lift Act (HELP); the apparel sector accounts for three-quarters of Haitian exports and nearly one-tenth of GDP. Remittances are the primary source of foreign exchange, equaling nearly 20% of GDP and more than twice the earnings from exports. Haiti suffers from a lack of investment, partly because of insecurity and limited infrastructure, and a severe trade deficit. In 2005, Haiti paid its arrears to the World Bank, paving the way for reengagement with the Bank. Haiti received debt forgiveness for over $1 billion through the Highly-Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative in mis-2009. The remainder of its outstanding external debt was cancelled by donor countries in early 2010 but has since risen to about $400 million. The government relies on formal international economic assistance for fiscal sustainability, with over half of its annual budget coming from outside sources.[2]

President

  • René Préval () (May 14, 2006 - )

President-elect

  • Michel Martelly () (December 23, 1858 - 2011)

Prime Minister

  • Jean-Max Bellerive () (November 11, 2009 - )

Nation

Haitian Polities

Hispaniolan Polities

Neighbouring Nations

References

  1. The CIA World Factbook: Introduction - Background
  2. The CIA World Factbook: Economy - Overview

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