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Repiblik d Ayiti (Haitian)
République d'Haïti (French)
Republic of Haiti
Flag of Haiti
Haiti coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Motto : Liberté - Égalité - Fraternité

(French, " freedom, equality, fraternity ")

Official language Haitian and French
capital city Port-au-Prince
State and form of government semi-presidential republic
Head of state President
Joseph Lambert
Head of government Prime Minister
Ariel Henry
area 27,750 km²
population 11.3 million ( 81st ) (2019; estimate)
Population density 404 inhabitants per km²
Population development + 1.2% (estimate for 2019)
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
2019 (estimate)
  • $ 8.7 billion ( 145. )
  • $ 20 billion ( 149. )
  • 773 USD ( 177. )
  • 1,797 USD ( 181. )
Human Development Index 0.51 ( 170th ) (2019)
currency Gourde (HTG)
independence 1 January 1804 (from France )
recognized in 1825
National anthem La Dessalinienne
National holiday January 1st (Independence Day)
Time zone UTC − 5
License Plate RH
ISO 3166 HT , HTI, 332
Internet TLD .ht
Phone code +509
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Haiti (pronounced [ Haiti ]; haitian Ayiti , French Haïti [ aiti ]) is an on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles situated island nation . It covers the western part of the Caribbean island, the eastern part of which is occupied by the Dominican Republic . The approximately eleven million inhabitants of Haiti are mostly of sub-Saharan African descent. The capital of the country is Port-au-Prince .

Haiti was the first independent state in the Caribbean after the French colonial era . It is the only country on the American double continent that is counted among the least developed countries in the world. In addition to the weak economy, there is an unstable political situation with numerous unrest, which is why over three million Haitians have emigrated since the mid-1990s.

Country name

The country name comes from the language of the Taíno , the indigenous people of Hispaniola, and means "mountainous land".


Geographical structure

The national territory in the west of the island of Hispaniola has the shape of a "U" opened to the west, which is formed by two long peninsulas . In between lies the Golfe de la Gonâve , at the eastern end of which is the capital Port-au-Prince .

Haiti also includes offshore islands such as the Île de la Tortue , the Île de la Gonâve and the Île de Vache.

Due to the U-shape of Haiti, the geographic center of the country is located 13 kilometers from the Île de la Gonâve outside the national territory in the Caribbean Sea.

The highest mountain is the Pic la Selle with a height of 2674  m . It is located in the southeast of the country in the Sierra de Bahoruco , not far from the border to the even more mountainous Dominican Republic. Haiti has a 388 km land border with this eastern neighboring state on the island of Hispaniola.

In the middle of the country the mountains reach 1500–1800  meters above sea level , in the Massif du Sud on the Tiburon Peninsula , which protrudes far towards Jamaica , up to about 2400  m .

Geology / earthquake

Geologically, the island of Hispaniola lies over the border between the Caribbean and North American plates . As a result of this fault there is frequent seismic activity. Haiti was hit by major earthquakes in 1751, 1842, 1860, 2010 and most recently in 2021 .


Haiti is in the area of tropical cyclones . The hurricane Jeanne taught in September 2004 considerable damage in the area around the city of Gonaives on. About 3,000 people died in Haiti. The state was hit particularly badly in August and September 2008 , when four consecutive tropical cyclones caused destruction by strong winds and heavy rain . A total of around 800 people were killed in Haiti as a result of the effects of Tropical Storm Fay , Hurricane Gustav , Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike .

Soil erosion

Haiti is severely affected by soil erosion and deforestation , but claims that 98% of the tropical rainforest have been deforested are greatly exaggerated. During the land reform at the beginning of the 19th century, farming families were given 15 hectares of farmland each. The descendants of these land heirs divided the land into smaller and smaller pieces. In 1971 the land allotted to a farming family was only 1.5 hectares in size. The land had to be overexploited to survive. Severe erosion was the result and the soil became sterile within a few years. The descendants made even steeper slopes usable for agriculture. Across the country, the loss of agricultural land for personal consumption led to social destabilization of the country.


Haiti's climate is consistently tropical and therefore has greater temperature differences during the day than during the year. Rainfall is around 1300 mm in most of Haiti, but only around 500 mm in the northwest, where it only rains in summer. There are two main rainy seasons during the year, from April to May and from September to October. Due to the proximity to the warm Gulf Stream , the water temperature is 25 ° C.

Flora and fauna

Since Hispaniola was separated from the American mainland for a long time, a relatively large number of animals and plants could develop independently of the mainland. Of around 5,000 plant species found in Haiti, around 35 percent are endemic . With the introduction of farm animals and culture followers by the colonizers, the diversity of the endemic species was further restricted, so that only two of the 28 mammal species originally found there have survived to this day: the zaguti ( Plagiodontia aedium ) and the Haitian sand weevil ( Solenodon paradoxus ).

In addition, the diversity of flora and fauna is endangered by ongoing erosion and overexploitation of the soil.

Neighbore states

Haiti's neighbors include the Turks and Caicos Islands , the Dominican Republic , Jamaica , Cuba and the Bahamas .


Kuba Dominikanische Republik Grand’Anse Sud Nippes Sud-Est Ouest Ouest Nord-Ouest Artibonite Nord Nord-Est Centre
Departments in Haiti

Haiti is divided into ten departments . On September 4, 2003, the Nippes department was formed as the tenth department by splitting off from Grand'Anse .

The population figures in the following table refer to an estimate as of January 1, 2015.

No. Department Area in km² Inhabitants (as of 2015) Inhabitants per km²
1 Artibonite 4,887 1,727,524 353
2 Center 3,487 746.236 214
3 Grand'Anse 1.912 468.301 245
4th Trinkets 1,268 342,525 270
5 North 2.115 1,067,177 505
6th North-Est 1,623 393.967 243
7th North-East 2,103 728,807 347
8th Ouest 4,893 4,029,705 807
9 South-Est 2,035 632.601 311
10 South 2,654 774.976 292
Haiti as a whole 27,065 10,911,819 403

Source for the area data: Direction des Statistiques Démographiques et Sociales (DSDS). The sum of the area of ​​the départements differs from the state area given above, since the inland waters are not included in the areas of the départements.



In 2016, 59.8% of the population lived in cities or urban areas. Haiti's largest city is by far the capital Port-au-Prince, which has a population of 875,978. 2,296,386 people live in the metropolitan region of Port-au-Prince and thus almost 20% of the entire population of the country. The five largest cities are (as of 2009):

  1. Port-au-Prince : 875,978 inhabitants
  2. Carrefour : 430,250 inhabitants
  3. Delmas : 359,451 inhabitants
  4. Pétionville : 271,175 inhabitants
  5. Cité Soleil : 241,055 inhabitants
  6. Gonaives : 228,725 inhabitants



Population pyramid Haiti 2016
Population development (1960 to 2017)
On a country road in Haiti in February 1996

In Haiti, only a very small proportion of births and deaths are officially recorded. Therefore, all figures are based on estimates and projections. The following figures are therefore very uncertain.

The population has tripled since the first census in 1950; at that time 3.1 million were counted.

The average life expectancy at birth is given for the years between 2006 and 2016 (with the exception of the earthquake year 2010) with values ​​between 61 and 65 years. The mean age of the population is 23 years (2017). The infant mortality rate is less than 5%, and the average annual population growth is 1.34% (2017). The total fertility rate in 2017 was estimated at 2.72 children per woman.

The Haitian population is divided into 95% black, 0.1% white, and 4.9% of those who emerged from ties between blacks and whites. Other sources give 60–80% black, up to a maximum of 5% white and 15–35% for people with black and white ancestors. These play a dominant role in the country's economy.

Haitians form large minorities through migration in the United States (approximately 600,000) and the Dominican Republic (800,000). A quarter of the Bahamas' population is from Haiti. Escape workers offer the transportation of boat refugees for a few hundred US dollars. Important destination countries for Haitian immigration are the Dominican Republic, the United States and France , Brazil and Canada as well as, increasingly, since 2010, Chile and Mexico in order to reach the USA via the Mexican northern border. Many are denied this and so, for example, many Haitians live in Tijuana.

year population
1960 03,688,000
1980 05,643,000
2000 08,464,000
2010 09,949,000
2019 11,263,000


The two main languages ​​of Haiti are Haitian and French . The latter is particularly important as a second and educational language. Haiti is thus the only independent French-speaking state in Latin America. The language Langaj (also Langay or Haitian Voodoo Culture Language ) has exclusively religious significance . The languages ​​of the indigenous population have died out.


Baptist Church in Fermathe

The Roman Catholic Church in Haiti was the state church until the constitution came into force in 1987 . Exact numbers on religious affiliation were not yet available according to US data in 2003; At the time, it was estimated that around 80 percent of Haiti's citizens were Roman Catholics. According to more precise estimates, around 55% of Haitians were Roman Catholics in 2003, and almost 30% belong to various Protestant denominations, especially Baptists (more than 15 percent), Pentecostals (just under 8 percent) and Adventists , with a growing tendency in recent decades (about 3 percent). Although only a few percent (2003: estimated 2.1) of the population state that they belong to the voodoo religion, which originated in West Africa , many residents who officially profess Christianity also practice voodoo or spiritualist rituals - overall, well around 75 percent of the population, mostly black and people from a black / white relationship. Voodoo served President François Duvalier as an opportunity to take action against people from a black / white relationship. Although it has been recognized by the authorities as a religious practice since 2003, it did not receive full religious rights. Other religions are given as 4.6%, non-believers make up around 10 percent.


In the decades following the discovery of the island of Hispaniola by Christopher Columbus in 1492, its indigenous people, including the Taino, to the group of Arawaks belonging, and the Ciboney almost completely exterminated . In the late 17th century, the island was repopulated mainly by African slaves who were used on the sugar plantations .

In 1697, in the Peace of Rijswijk , Spain ceded the western third of the island to France . This area was then called Saint-Domingue and in the 18th century became the richest colony of the French colonies on the American continent.

On August 23, 1791, under the leadership of Dutty Boukman and Georges Biassou , a slave revolt broke out, which developed into a bloody war everyone against everyone : Europeans fought against Africans, Creole planters against French loyal to the king, French republican troops against the intervening English and Spaniards. The ex-slaves ("Africans") prevailed in the end. Even an army sent by Napoleon against Haiti's national hero Toussaint Louverture was ultimately defeated.

Saint-Domingue declared its independence from France on January 1, 1804 under the name Haiti ( French spelling: Hayti ), General Dessalines declared himself emperor following the example of Napoleon and ruled until his violent death in 1806. Haiti, the first independent republic of Blacks, campaigned for the abolition of slavery and also supported Venezuela , Peru and Colombia in their struggle for independence under revolutionary leaders such as Bolívar and Miranda .

In 1806 Haiti split into the " State of Haiti " ( État d′Haïti ) in the north (a kingdom from 1811 ), which was dominated by a black elite, and the "Republic of Haiti" in the south, which was dominated by a mulatto elite.

In 1820 President Boyer succeeded in reuniting the divided country. Under his leadership, Haitian troops conquered the eastern part of the island that belonged to Spain (the later Dominican Republic ). In 1822, Haiti annexed eastern Hispaniola and abolished slavery there too; In 1844 this area, the later Dominican Republic, regained its independence.

In return for recognizing Haiti's independence in 1825, France demanded compensation for former plantation owners. For decades, Haiti paid France a total of 90 million gold francs . Soon after independence, large plantations were among the people divided , whereby the export of agricultural goods collapsed. Several attempts to increase the productivity of agriculture (beginning with the Code Rural of 1826) have failed because of the agrarian structure consisting of small and very small parcels . Nevertheless, the country was considered an exporter of coffee , cocoa , hides and logs .

Haiti has suffered from rulers and kleptocrats for most of its history . Just two of his rulers - Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1804–1806), also called Jakob I or Jacques I, and Faustin Soulouque (1849–1859) - raised themselves to be emperors at different times .

Haitian gunboat "Crête-à-Pierrot" on September 6, 1902 in the port of La Gonaives shortly before the sinking by SMS Panther

In 1902 there was an incident in which there was a sea battle between the Haitian gunboat Crête-à-Pierrot and the German gunboat SMS Panther ( Markomannia incident ), in the course of which the Haitian boat sank and Admiral Hammerton Killick fell.

King Armored Cars in Haiti

During the US military intervention in Haiti 1915-1934 , the country was occupied by the United States Marine Corps , which set up a Haitian gendarmerie , the Gendarmerie d'Haïti . Efforts have been made to improve rural infrastructure and the education system; but these reforms, which ignored the customs and traditions of Haiti, were neither welcomed nor successful. Charlemagne Péralte was the leader of the armed resistance against the occupation forces and the Gendarmerie d'Haïti .

The US intervention ushered in a period that lasted until the end of Élie Lescot's (Leslie Lescot) presidency in 1946, during which the descendants of a black and white relationship held the economic and political strings in hand. There was only one government paper. US troops were withdrawn in 1934 under the Good Neighbor Policy . In 1946 the blacks came to power in the so-called "revolution"; their supremacy was expanded under Presidents Dumarsais Estimé (1946) and Paul Eugène Magloire (1950).

Until 1950, a census was in force in Haiti, which made certain income and property limits necessary in order to gain the right to vote. In addition, there was no active or passive right to vote for women until 1950 .

From 1957 onwards, the former country doctor François “Papa Doc” Duvalier succeeded in gaining power with an anti-US American, emphatically “black” program. He became a dictator in 1964 and became known for the so-called Tontons Macoutes , a volunteer force that used the methods of a secret police and a group of thugs against unpopular people. The voodoo cult was also tolerated again. "Papa Docs" son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier followed him in 1971 at the age of 19 in the government. The 1985 constitution extended the right to vote to all citizens. In 1986 "Baby Doc" was driven out of the country.

Cap Haïtien

After the constitutional reform of 1987 , the military , supported by the wealthy upper class, put on a coup against President Leslie Manigat in June 1988 and ruled (after another coup in September 1988) until the 1990 elections, in which the Catholic poor priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide was overwhelming Majority was elected president. His opponents accused him of class struggle , and he considered himself part of the liberation theology . As early as 1991 he was put out of office by Brigadier General Raoul Cédras . The regime initially sought US support. Even under pressure from the Organization of American States , the USA decided in 1994 to undertake the military intervention Operation Uphold Democracy and let Aristide return to his office, on the condition that he now agree to the rules with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund keep the market economy and cede part of its rights to parliament. In 1996, according to the constitution, Aristide handed over the office to his companion René Préval after one term of office had expired . The UN mandate, under which Haiti had been since 1995, expired in 1997.

Boat refugees from Haiti

In January 1999, President Préval failed to renew parliamentarians' mandates. In addition, the terms of office of local government officials also ended, which meant that by the third quarter of 2000 there were practically no elected incumbents in Haiti and the president ruled by decree. In the first half of 2000 local and parliamentary elections were initially held; voter turnout was estimated at 60 percent. According to Amnesty International and the World Council of Churches, this resulted in intimidation and violence up to the murder of candidates on both sides and controversial decisions up to and including election fraud in the evaluation and counting of votes by the government. According to election observers, the government received around 60% of the vote, but it obtained almost all parliamentary seats. The opposition then brought about a widespread boycott of the following presidential election, which Aristide therefore won in November 2000 with over 91 percent of the vote. After taking office in 2001, his government was also accused of mismanagement and corruption. There was increasing nationwide resistance, which was fueled by forces of the former dictator Duvalier, including death squads working for him . Aristide tried to keep himself in power by mobilizing his supporters - including the equally violent "Chimères" of the " Fanmi Lavalas " (FL). Under conditions similar to civil war , the internal order finally collapsed and in February 2004, with the approval of the UN Security Council, military intervention was initiated, with Chile , France , Canada and the USA sending troops. Aristide left the country - according to the opposition, the USA and France voluntarily, according to his own account as a result of a coup. In place of the first intervention troops, around 10,000 blue helmet soldiers were stationed as part of MINUSTAH in 2004 .

Port-au-Prince Cathedral destroyed by the earthquake (January 2010)

According to Aristide, the country was initially administered in 2004 by a transitional government under Boniface Alexandre as President and Gérard Latortue as Prime Minister, until the presidential election, which had been postponed several times, was held in February 2006. With an election result of 51.15% of the vote, it produced Préval as the winner, but the process of this election was also controversial. In May 2006, Préval nominated the politician Jacques-Édouard Alexis as Prime Minister. In early 2006, General Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar , the Brazilian commander of MINUSTAH, died under unexplained circumstances; suicide was suspected .

High inflation and the sharp rise in prices for staple foods such as rice and maize around the world led to popular protests in spring 2008, which culminated in serious unrest with several deaths. Although President Préval had announced that he would fight the rise in food prices, the situation did not calm down. On April 12, 2008, the Senate decided to dismiss Prime Minister Alexis.

Destroyed Presidential Palace (January 2010)

On January 12, 2010, an earthquake in the southern part of Haiti claimed up to 316,000 deaths and destroyed the center of the capital. In terms of the number of victims, it was the worst natural disaster in Haiti's history and one of the most devastating earthquakes in the world.

The elections planned for February 28, 2010 were postponed to March 20, 2011, when Michel Martelly emerged as the 56th  President of Haiti in the runoff election on May 14, 2011 .

Nine months after the earthquake, the government declared a nationwide sanitary emergency following the epidemic outbreak of cholera. More than 300,000 people were infected in the first year of the epidemic, and by 2013 over 8,000 people had died.

The infections initially occurred in the rural Artibonite province and spread to the capital Port-au-Prince within a few days. On August 17, 2016, the UN admitted that the cause of the outbreak was a pathogen brought in by Nepalese UN soldiers.

Since September 2019 there have been protests in Haiti against President Jovenel Moïse, who has been in office since 2017 . The protests were sparked by a report that exposed widespread corruption among the economic and political elites while most of the country's population lived in severe poverty. Social life in Haiti was affected, including schools closed. Dozens of people died in the clashes, and Amnesty International made serious allegations against the Haitian police, parts of which tried to storm the military headquarters in late February 2020 in order to obtain better working conditions.

On the night of July 6th to 7th, 2021 at around 1 a.m., a group of men broke into the private residence of incumbent President Jovenel Moïse and murdered him with several shots. The president's wife was injured by several bullets, but survived the crime. According to media reports, the perpetrators spoke English and Spanish and were labeled as foreigners.


Political system

According to the constitution of April 28, 1987, Haiti is a presidential republic . The head of state and supreme holder of executive power is the president, who is directly elected by the people for a period of five years . The state president appoints the prime minister, who has to be confirmed by parliament. The legislature lies with the bicameral parliament , consisting of the Senate ( Sénat ) with 30 senators, who are elected for six years, and the Chamber of Deputies ( Chambre des députés ) with 99 members, who are elected for four years.

After the parties and the president were unable to agree on rules for the implementation of the upcoming new elections by the end of the legislative period, President Martelly dissolved parliament on January 13, 2015 and from then on ruled by decree.

In the elections for the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate on August 9, 2015, 290,000 eligible voters were unable to vote because their polling stations were closed as a result of violent riots. The turnout was 18%, in the capital only 10%. The election results should have been announced one month after the election, on September 8, 2015. But that did not happen, among other things. as a result of quarrels among the members of the responsible electoral commission ( Conseil Électoral Provisoire ). After the round of elections on October 25, 2015 (runoff elections for the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, first round of the presidential elections, local elections), five days after the polls closed, 2,113 records of the results of the local counts were missing. Jovenel Moïse and Jude Célestin qualified for the runoff of the presidential election . This should have been carried out on December 27, 2015, but was canceled six days earlier, postponed several times and finally scheduled for April 24, 2016. On February 14, 2016, Senate President Jocelerme Privert was elected by Parliament as the interim president, who should lead the office until the election in April. But then the runoff election for the presidential election, scheduled for April 24, 2016, was postponed again - for the fourth time. At the end of May 2016, an electoral review committee recommended that the first round of the presidential election in October 2015 be annulled and repeated, as far too many people with dubious voting rights would have voted at the time. On June 14, 2016, Privert's mandate as transitional president, which was limited to 120 days, expired without having achieved his goal of handing over office to a successor elected by the people. Two attempts by the remaining members of the Chamber of Deputies to decide whether to renew Privert's mandate as interim president until February 7, 2017, failed. Because violent demonstrators for and against Privert prevented the scheduled meetings on June 21 and June 28, 2016 from taking place. Nonetheless, Privert regarded himself as a “de facto interim president” for the time being, insofar as the Chamber of Deputies did not decree otherwise. The runoff election for the presidential election, which had been postponed several times, was finally held on November 20, 2016. According to the preliminary election result announced by the Conseil Électoral Provisoire on November 28th , Jovenel Moïse won with 55.7% of the vote, ahead of Jude Célestin (19.2%), Moïse Jean-Charles (11.0%) and Maryse Narcisse (9.0%) %). Only around 1.3 million of the 6.2 million eligible voters (= 21%) cast their votes.

Since the parliamentary election planned for October 2019 was not held due to violent protests against Moïse, among other things, the term of office of 20 of the total of 30 senators has expired and the Senate has no longer had a quorum since January 2020. Nevertheless, on July 9, 2021, eight of the ten remaining members of the Senate elected the previous Senate President Joseph Lambert as the transitional successor to the murdered President Jovenel Moïse; two senators abstained. However, Lambert's election is unconstitutional. In February 2021, several opposition parties had declared Joseph Mécène Jean-Louis, a judge of the Supreme Court, as transitional president because they believed Moïse's term of office had expired.

Shortly before his murder, Moïse had appointed the neurosurgeon Ariel Henry as head of government, but he was no longer sworn in before the attack. The foreign minister and previous interim prime minister Claude Joseph then declared himself in competition with Ariel Henry as the incumbent interim head of government. On July 19, 2021, Claude Joseph Ariel admitted Henry to the office of Prime Minister and announced that he would serve in Henry's cabinet as Foreign Secretary.

The most influential political parties are:

Haiti is undoubtedly a weak state and, according to Foreign Policy , a failed state .

Political indices

Political indices published by non-governmental organizations
Name of the index Index value Worldwide rank Interpretation aid year
Fragile States Index 97.7 out of 120 13 of 178 Stability of the country: Alarm
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
Democracy index 4.22 out of 10 106 of 167 Hybrid regime
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
Freedom in the World Index 38 out of 100 --- Freedom status: partially free
0 = not free / 100 = free
Freedom of the press ranking 31.12 out of 100 87 of 180 Recognizable problems for the freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 18 out of 100 170 of 180 0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean 2020

Domestic politics

The domestic political situation in Haiti in recent decades has been characterized by repeated crises such as coups d'etat, foreign interventions and / or dictatorships with outbreaks of violent conflicts, violations of human rights and chronic instability. President Jean-Bertrand Aristide , who resigned on February 29, 2004, left interim President Boniface Alexandre a country in chaos. The rule of law, institutional structures and collective rules of conduct are largely absent. In addition, there is a panorama of corruption, a lack of criminal prosecution, electoral fraud, criminal gangs, drug trafficking and the willingness to resolve conflicts violently.

Another problem is the poor monitoring of the airspace . For example, Haiti has become a popular transit country for cocaine smuggling.

Foreign policy

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States were the only countries that gave Haiti development aid; however, the relationship between Haiti and the United States, which proved to be an unreliable partner, was severely disturbed for a long time.

Development cooperation between Haiti and the Federal Republic of Germany therefore goes back to the 1960s, but has repeatedly undergone turning points as a result of internal political disputes and the inadequate structural framework. In 2000, the election manipulation again gave Germany and other EU states the opportunity to reduce their commitment: The ongoing technical cooperation projects were continued, but no new projects were agreed.

Against the background of the extremely poor socio-economic situation and the chronic political instability, the Haitian interim government, with the support of the donor community, drafted a framework agreement for development cooperation (Cadre de Coopération Intermédiaire) for the two years until the new elections. The German government also participated in this program. This created new framework conditions for German-Haitian cooperation. Technical cooperation focuses on rural areas (communal / local development).

The 2010 earthquake made the country completely dependent on international aid. This resulted in uncoordinated actions and also in competition between a number of states for political influence on the island, which is geostrategically important for the USA. About a million potential American voters are also from Haiti.

Cuba had been supporting Haiti for a long time, especially with medical aid since Hurricane Georges in 1998, and built a health bridge after the earthquake. Brazil has led the UN Stabilization Force since 2004 and has had certain successes, including: in the fight against drug trafficking, which contributed to positive relations between the two countries. Relations with France, on the other hand, were only symbolic and strained due to demands for the return of the compensation paid to France by Haiti for the recognition of the country in the 19th century. These compensations had contributed to the long-lasting economic stagnation.

After the quake, the United States provided, inter alia, by USAID provides massive aid and also sent soldiers. Even Venezuela tried to win by oil and relief supplies influence.

Haiti is a. Member of CELAC .

Health policy

The HIV - prevalence in Haiti is 1.9% (1.7% -2.2%) stated (2009), however, are for the time after the January 2010 earthquake no data. Almost half (46%) of all people living with HIV / AIDS in the Caribbean live in Haiti. Since the early 1990s, HIV prevalence in Haiti has decreased from 5.9% and appears to be stabilizing at around two percent. Despite positive developments, the economic and social effects of HIV / AIDS are great because of the inadequate health system, widespread poverty and the discrimination against HIV-positive people.

In 2016, the child mortality rate in Haiti was 6.7%. Despite the country's major problems, life expectancy has been increased and child mortality has been reduced.

Development of life expectancy

period Life expectancy in
period Life expectancy in
1950-1955 37.5 1985-1990 53.7
1955-1960 40.6 1990-1995 55.4
1960-1965 43.5 1995-2000 57.1
1965-1970 46.2 2000-2005 58.3
1970-1975 48.1 2005-2010 60.2
1975-1980 50.1 2010-2015 62.3
1980-1985 51.5

Source: UN


Housing estate in Cap Haïtien
Child on a rubbish dump in the slum Cité Soleil
Deforestation in Haiti (left) in the satellite image , main reason: the extraction of charcoal

Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere . The country is a densely populated agricultural state with a per capita income of around 761 US dollars in 2016 , which is the lowest per capita income in Latin America. The gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017 is estimated at 8.6 billion US dollars. In purchasing power parity , GDP is US $ 20 billion or US $ 1,800 per inhabitant. Real growth was only 1.2% with an inflation rate of 14.7%. Despite large amounts of aid from abroad, the economic situation has barely improved in recent years.

Since July 2017, the statutory minimum wage has been 350 Gourdes per day (= € 4.85 at the exchange rate at the time).

58.5% of the population live below the relative poverty line (as of 2012). More than two thirds of the working age population do not have a regular job.

According to 2010 FAO figures, more than half of the population is undernourished: 5.5 million of Haiti's 9.4 million inhabitants. The development economist Hans-Heinrich Bass describes the displacement of small-scale production in the 1980s and 1990s through imports of subsidized US rice and sugar and the simultaneous promotion of coffee and mango plantations, also through funds from, as a major negative factor for food security in Haiti US development cooperation. Although a comparative cost advantage may actually lie in this special cultivation, the problem of agricultural underproduction in relation to the population in Haiti could not be solved in practice because the income generated in special cultivation was not sufficient for an import-based food security.

The illiteracy rate is 40%, although six years of compulsory primary schooling exist. In 1995 55% of the population was illiterate .

In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Haiti ranks 128th out of 137 countries (as of 2017-2018). In 2017, the country was ranked 159th out of 180 countries in the Index for Economic Freedom .

A major problem in the country is the poor condition of the roads and the transport infrastructure. In the Logistics Performance Index , which is compiled by the World Bank and measures the quality of the infrastructure, Haiti ranked 153rd out of 160 countries in 2018.


Colonial Haiti was the richest country in the Caribbean at the time , although its prosperity primarily benefited the colonial power and a small local elite. Sugar and coffee were grown on plantations and exported to Europe. After the Haitian Revolution, France pressed a "ransom" from its former colony in 1825 in return for recognizing independence. Haiti was to pay 150 million francs, which were initially reduced to 120 million francs after negotiations and then to 60 million in 1838, payable in 30 annual installments until 1867. Apart from occasional payment delays, the sum was actually paid off in full by 1883. In order to service these installments, however, the country repeatedly took out loans on extremely poor terms, so that the sum was actually only paid off in 1947.

During the 19th century, the Haitian economy began to slowly decline, the causes of which were varied: the debt burden, foreign policy blockades and threats, high military spending and a lack of investment, political instability, massive social and racial conflicts, chaotic land reforms and a conversion of agriculture from the plantation economy on primitive smallholder farms ensured that Haiti was one of the less developed states in the Caribbean on the eve of the US invasion in 1915. The US occupiers expanded the infrastructure and state administration, but this did not change the structural economic problems. Today Haiti, the “poor house of America”, is the only state in America that can still be counted among the classic developing countries.

From 1990 to 2003 around four billion US dollars in aid came from the USA and Europe. At the same time, the country is suffering from a high level of talent drain as 80 percent of Haitians with higher education emigrate.

Since the fall of Jean-Bertrand Aristide , the country's economy has been in a serious crisis. But the first signs of normalization appeared on March 4, 2004, when the banks in Port-au-Prince opened again for the first time. The Haiti industry association estimates the damage caused by the unrest at more than 100 million euros. The German post office was to support a modern postal code system, the commitment to Haiti in building. A major problem facing the state is the high level of corruption . With 146th place out of 178, it is one of the lowest places in the statistics of Transparency International . Against Haiti was one of the Federal Republic of Germany fulfilled ban after total embargo imposed.


economic sectors

Fishing village in Haiti

Agriculture accounts for 24.7 percent of GDP (as of 2012). About two thirds of Haiti's population make a living from agriculture. The main products are coffee, mangoes, cane sugar , sorghum and wood . Almost all other foods have to be imported on a large scale. Rice, corn, mangoes, coffee and cocoa are also exported. Around a third of the country is used for agriculture, but large areas of arable land have been lost to deforestation and erosion. Mangoes and coffee are grown primarily for export. Around half of the world's vetiver oil comes from Haiti . Caribbean Flavors and Fragrances is Haiti's largest manufacturer and exporter of the oil used in perfume making, aromatherapy and naturopathy in 2013 with 50 employees. The export of agricultural products can only be carried out via the port of Port-au-Prince, but it often fails due to inadequate transport connections from the growing areas to the port.

Industry accounts for around 19.5 percent of GDP (as of 2012). There are industrial companies only for textiles, handicrafts, assembly of electronic items, food processing, beverages, tobacco, furniture, chemicals and steel.

Services are responsible for around 55.8 percent of GDP (as of 2012). In addition to trade, there are hotels and restaurants as well as tourism.


Labadee with Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Haiti has 1,700 kilometers of the Caribbean coast, but there has been no foreign investment in beach hotels for many years. One of the few exceptions is a small headland in the northwest: the vast majority of the country's tourism income comes from the leasing of the port of Labadee and the adjacent beaches in the north of the country to the cruise line Royal Caribbean Cruises . Labadee is approached as a regular shore leave on the Caribbean cruises. The shipping company pays the Haitian state six US dollars per tourist. The area is strictly isolated from the rest of the country. The reason for this is the travel warnings issued by the USA and EU for years due to, among other things, targeted armed robbery against foreigners.

Key figures

All GDP values ​​are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).

year 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
(purchasing power parity)
6.39 billion 8.05 billion 9.29 billion 9.58 billion 11.79 billion 12.88 billion 13.58 billion 14.41 billion 14.81 billion 15.38 billion 14.72 billion 15.85 billion 16.61 billion 17.59 billion 18.41 billion 18.83 billion 19.35 billion 19.93 billion
GDP per capita
(purchasing power parity)
1,077 1,241 1.310 1,224 1,378 1,391 1,443 1,507 1,526 1,561 1,471 1,562 1,614 1,686 1,741 1,758 1,783 1,814
GDP growth
7.3% 0.8% −0.4% 9.9% 0.9% 1.8% 2.2% 3.3% 0.8% 0.9% −5.5% 5.5% 2.9% 4.2% 2.8% 1.2% 1.5% 1.2%
(in percent)
19.1% 10.6% 21.3% 30.2% 11.5% 16.8% 14.2% 9.0% 14.4% 3.4% 4.1% 7.4% 6.8% 6.8% 3.9% 7.5% 13.6% 14.7%
Public debt
(as a percentage of GDP)
... ... ... ... 55% 47% 39% 35% 38% 28% 17% 12% 16% 21% 26% 30% 34% 32%

Foreign trade

Remittances from emigrants and the textile trade make up the majority of the gross domestic product . In 2009, Haiti was canceled about $ 1.2 billion in foreign debt.

  • Exports (goods): US $ 1.11 billion (2016): Mainly textiles
  • Imports (goods): US $ 2.95 billion (2016)

The country has been unilaterally dependent on the United States for many years: it exports around 80 percent there and imports around half from there.

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures equivalent to US $ 1.819 billion , which was offset by revenues equivalent to US $ 1.563 billion. This results in a budget deficit of 3.1% of GDP .

The national debt was 33.5% of GDP in 2016.

In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:


There are two universities, the state university Université d'État d'Haïti with around 20,000 students and the Catholic Université Notre Dame d'Haïti . Both are badly affected by the 2010 earthquake.


Artisans in Port-au-Prince
A “ tap-tap ” in Port-au-Prince

Haitian culture is very different from that of the surrounding countries of the Caribbean and the Americas. It is particularly strongly influenced by French and West African influences. In addition, remnants of the Spanish or Taino culture can be identified.


Carnival (known by the population as Kanaval or Mardi Gras ) is an important festival . This is celebrated to a far greater extent than in Germany. The Rara Festival is celebrated shortly before Easter with Rara music.


The mixture of cultures typical of Haiti can be found, for example, in Haitian painting, which combines African, French, Spanish and Indian roots. Bright colors, mythical tales, the paradise of the jungle, rituals, dances and the gods of voodoo characterize the motifs of Haitian painting, which serve to remember the Haitian past. For this mixture high prices are obtained on the markets of the international art scene.

Many artists divide Haitian objects into 'art schools', such as the Cap Haiti school, which specializes in everyday life in the cities, the Jacmel school, which depicts the deep valleys and mountains of the coasts, or the Saint-Soleil -School characterized by abstract human forms and the symbolism of Vodou.


The most famous Haitian music genre is the “Kompa”, a genre in which Spanish and French musical elements are combined with African rhythms and Creole chants. Other typical Haitian music styles are Rara, Mizik Rasin, Compas and Mini-Jazz. Rap music is popular in Haiti and it has developed its own style (Haitian Rap) .

The internationally best known Haitian is probably Wyclef Jean , who made a career with his cousin Pras Michel (Prakazrel Michel) and with Lauryn Hill as The Fugees , as well as as a solo artist and in collaboration with artists like Santana (“Maria Maria” on the album “Supernatural ", 1999) or Sarah Connor (" One Nite Stand ", 2002).

The best-known German with Haitian descent is the rapper Torch , a founding member of the band Advanced Chemistry , who is considered a co-founder of the German hip-hop scene and is known worldwide under the pseudonym DJ Haitian Star.

The family roots of the multi-instrumentalist Régine Chassagne ( The Arcade Fire ) also go back to Haiti. She and her parents fled to Chicago in the 1970s to escape the regime of dictator Duvalier. Arcade Fire's album “Funeral” includes a song called “Haiti”, which describes the situation under Duvalier's dictatorship.


Early Haitian literature was mainly characterized by the essay writing by historians such as Joseph Saint-Rémy (1818–1856), who tried to establish the world-historical mission of the founding of the Haitian state, oscillating between the pathos of the Enlightenment and racial theory.

Romanticism was represented by Oswald Durand (1840–1906). Justin Lhérisson (1873-1907) founded the novel nationally at the beginning of the 20th century as a form of social satire in the oral-Creole narrative style.

A Haitian indigénisme developed since 1930, combining resistance against the United States with a reassessment of black cultural heritage. One of the authors of this movement was Jean Price-Mars (1876–1969). A socially critical to socialist perspective has dominated since the 1950s, as in the work of Jacques Stephen Alexis (1922–1961). After that, especially since the late 1960s, the intellectual elite of Haiti was driven into exile under Duvalier; the self-written literature in Haiti dried up until the 1990s. Marie-Célie Agnant (* 1953) emigrated to French-speaking Canada, as did Jacqueline Beaugé-Rosier (* 1932), Gary Klang (* 1941), Claude C. Pierre (* 1941),  Liliane Devieux-Dehoux (* 1942) and the poet Serge Legagneur (* 1937). Reginald Crosley (* 1937), doctor and voodoo practitioner and researcher, emigrated to the USA, as did Josaphat-Robert Large (1942–2017). René Depestre (* 1926) had to go into French exile in the 1940s. Jean Métellus (1937–2014) followed to France in 1959.

There have always been controversies about the literacy of the Creole language, which severely limits the range of the books. On the other hand, 80 percent of the population cannot read French books. Writing in Creole thus contributes to self-marginalization and exoticization; but it is also a moment of combative self-assertion. The poet, composer and theater maker Jean Jacques Clark Parent (* 1951) writes in both languages; also Frankétienne (* 1936), whose masterpiece Dézafi , Haiti's first Creole novel, appeared in 1975.

Important contemporary Haitian authors are Faubert Bolivar (* 1979), Webert Charles (* 1988), Maggy de Coster (* 1962), Louis-Philippe Dalembert (* 1962), Edwidge Danticat (* 1969), Jean-Claude Fignolé (* 1941), Dany Laferrière (* 1953), Fred Edson Lafortune (* 1982), Yanick Lahens (* 1953), Jean-Robert Léonidas (* 1946), Kettly Mars (* 1958), Marie-Sœurette Mathieu (* 1949), James Noël (* 1978), Makenzy Orcel (* 1983), Thélyson Orélien (* 1988), Stanley Pean (* 1966), the poet Anthony Phelps (* 1928), Emmelie Prophète (* 1971), Rodney Saint-Éloi (* 1963), Evelyne Trouillot (* 1954), Lyonel Trouillot (* 1956), Gary Victor (* 1958), Marvin Victor (* 1981). Many of the younger authors also live abroad.

Haiti as a setting in literature:


There are numerous successful athletes of Haitian origin such as Andre Berto , Samuel Dalembert , Dudley Dorival , Joseph Gaetjens , Olivier Occéan or Jean Pascal .

In 1974, Haiti surprisingly qualified for the soccer World Cup in Germany . Sensationally, the “football dwarf” took the lead in the first game against vice world champions Italy with a goal from Emmanuel Sanon , but lost in the end and could not survive the first round. The goalkeeper of the Haitians, Henri Françillon , was signed for the Second Bundesliga by TSV 1860 Munich after the tournament for the 1974/75 season .


  • Philippe Girard: Haiti. The Tumultuous History - From Pearl of the Caribbean to Broken Nation. Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2010. ISBN 0-230-10661-7 .
  • Paul Edward Farmer: The Uses of Haiti. Common Courage Press, Monroe 2005, ISBN 1-56751-344-1 .
  • Holger Schrader: The Latin American Policy of the USA under President Clinton: Claim and Reality. Studies on the history, politics and society of North America. Vol. 25. LIT, Berlin / Hamburg / Münster 2007, ISBN 3-8258-0334-1 .
  • Peter Hallward: Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment. Verso, London / New York 2008, ISBN 1-84467-106-2 .
  • Werner Pieper : Understand Haiti better - mix of past, present and tremor. Pieper & The Grüne Kraft, Löhrbach 2010, ISBN 3-930442-42-6 .
  • Yanick Lahens : And suddenly the ground opens up: Haiti, January 12th. Rotpunktverlag, Zurich 2011, ISBN 3-85869-439-8 .
  • Hans Christoph Buch : Haiti. Obituary for a failed state. Wagenbach, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-8031-2648-1 .
  • Werner Golder: Crazy Love: Haiti - Irritation and Fascination. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2009, ISBN 3-8260-4251-4 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Haiti  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Haiti  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: Haiti  - geographical and historical maps
 Wikinews: Haiti  - on the news
Wikivoyage: Haiti  Travel Guide

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Coordinates: 19 °  N , 72 °  W