Haiti is the LEAST DEVELOPED COUNTRY in the Western Hemisphere even though it is located just 700 miles off the coast of Florida.
- Population: 8.5 million (46% less than15 yrs)
- Land Area: 27,750 sq km (slightly larger than Maryland)
- Life expectancy: 49- 52 years of age
- Infant Mortality Rate: 74/1,000
- Literacy rate: 54.8%
- Post secondary education: less than 1%
- Income per capita: $2.00/ day
- Unemployment rate: 80%and living in poverty
- Labor force: Shortage of skilled labor, unskilled labor abundant
- Deforested Land Area: 98%
- National Religion: 70% Catholic; Voodoo recognized as a official religion in 2003. It is said, "Haiti is 70% Catholic, but 100% Voodoo."
A Brief History of Haiti
Haiti is located on the island of Hispaniola, located just off the coast of Florida, USA, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. It occupies the western third of Hispaniola, West of the Dominican Republic.
The native Arawak Amerindians - who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when Columbus discovered it in 1492 - were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers by 1517. Early in the 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola, and in 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island - 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 Louverture and after a prolonged struggle, became the first black republic to gain its independence in 1804. The slaves triumphed over the French army, the most successful slave revolt in history, though much turmoil has overwhelmed Haiti since then.
Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history, and is the least developed country in the Western Hemisphere. Over thirty years of dictatorship followed by military rule ended in 1990 when Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former Catholic priest, was elected president.
The Haitian people live day-to-day with very little hope for the future. Satanic influence and spiritual slavery appear to explain much of modern Haiti. Mixing Christianity with voodoo is a common practice held by many, a practice which gained credibility in 2003 when the president declared voodoo an officially recognized religion. Improvements have recently been visible, with the current president and his leadership, working to improve roads, hospitals and cleaning up the streets.
Although Haiti is often times viewed by the international community as a country without hope, we know we serve a God who brings hope to the hopeless.