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Haiti Was the First Country to Become a Black RepublicThe first of our fascinating Haiti facts centers on the rich history of the country. In the year 1801, a former slave who went by the name of Toussaint L’Ouverture led the slaves of the country in a rebellion against the French Colonialists who had control at the time. The slaves were victorious and the country became the first black republic. When Toussaint died in 1802, his second-in-command, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, proclaimed himself Jean Jacques I, Emperor of Haiti. He then went on to ruthlessly order the murder of any non-black people left in the country.
Haitian Culture Is Defined by a 1940s Art MovementHaiti is known as a nation of color lovers. Bright decorations and embellishments even feature on the public transport system. The country has a selection of second hand buses from the USA, called Kamion, which are decorated in this eye-catching way. Many people drive pick-up trucks called taptap, and which have special names like “Christ Capable” or “Thank God”. During the 1940s, an art movement encouraged by the Episcopal Church began in Port-au-Prince and still thrives today. It is based on the principles of color and decoration. These days, however, it is more likely that elite and university educated scholars from the country will have more success with their art than people from the lower social strata.
Haitians Have A Historically Important Food Source: the Gourd
One of our essential Haiti facts surrounds one of the country’s food sources. The gourd is a vegetable which is very important to the Haitians. It is a plant which belongs to the same family as cucumber, melons and squash. As well as being a source of food, the shells of these vegetables can be dehydrated and dried, and used as a drinking vessel. The Haitians hold this foodstuff in such high regard that they named their official currency the Haitian Gourde after it. In fact, in 1807 they were actually the base of the currency!
The 2010 Earthquake Was of a Devastating 7.0 Magnitude with over 52 AftershocksThe next of our Haiti facts centers on one of the natural disasters the country has faced. The epicenter of this disaster was in Leogane, which is 16 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. It occurred just before 16:55 (local time) on 12 January 2010. Aftershocks were still being felt 12 days later, with estimates suggesting there were over 52. Three million of the country’s inhabitants were affected in some way, and unofficial figures report that as many as 220,000 people were killed in the tragedy. To add further to the catastrophe, the main UN building in the country, known as the Stabilization Mission, collapsed, causing further casualties and deaths. In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the country was placed on tsunami alert and, although this was quickly downscaled, it is reported that the town of Petit Paradis nearby was hit by a small scale tsunami shortly after. This was verified by government officials.
80% of the Haitian Population Live Below the Poverty LineThe economy of the country is generally considered to be very poor. Some 80% of the population of Haiti live below the poverty line. The average income of a family is estimated to be around $480 per year. If you compare that to America, you’ll find the average there is $33,000 – quite a large discrepancy. It is also estimated that, on average, a person living in Haiti will have around $2.75 to live on each day, and 60% of this will go on food. Around 70% of the population do not have any regular means of employment and the country’s people are generally afraid to speak out against their poor living conditions and lack of labor.
In the 18th Century, Haiti Was the Richest Country in the French Colonies
In direct contrast to the last of our economic Haiti facts, we learn that in the 18th century, the country, which was then called St Dominique, was actually the richest of all the French Colonies. It was actually nicknamed The Pearl of The Antilles. However, its wealth largely came from the slave trade.
Haiti Is One of Only 2 Nations in the Americas that Claims French as an Official Language
The other country is Canada. However, around 90% of native Haitians actually speak Creole as their main language, and French as their second. Creole was not made an official language of the country of Haiti until 1987.
Haiti Has no Original Woodland Left
One of our ecological Haiti facts shows us that the country is one of the few remaining in the world that has no original woodland left in it. This is mostly due to poor farming methods, destruction of wood for products such as charcoal, and competition over land. This lack of forest has devastating effects on the landscape and means that natural disasters like mudslides and flash floods are more likely to occur.
Haiti’s Population Density is 747 People Per Square Mile
This makes it one of the least developed, yet densely populated, places in the entire world. To make a comparison, if we take a look at a state like Vermont in the United States, you’ll find that there are only 65 people per square mile!
In 2008 After a Severe Hurricane, Haiti Lost 70% of Its Crops
This, along with the 2010 earthquake, is another example of how the country has been devastated by natural disasters over the years. This hurricane was particularly severe and meant that the country lost 70% of its crops. The estimated cost of the severe weather event and the damage that occurred was put in the region of $1 billion.
Haitians Are Very Fond of Gambling, and Use Voodoo to Help Them
The Haitian People are very fond of gambling. This is due, in part, to their very poor economy and lack of stable income. The people firmly believe that the Gods hold their fate and, as such, when they want to put money on the lottery or gamble in other ways, they offer up elaborate voodoo rituals to the Gods in the hope that they will predict the winning numbers that will bring them their fortune.
Over 10% of Haitian Children Will Die Before Age 10In the developed world, we know that child mortality is more a rarity than the norm these days, so one of the most shocking Haiti facts tells us that more than 10% of the country’s children will not make it past their 10th birthday. This is due to generally poor nutrition, a proliferous occurrence of diseases like ringworm and typhoid due to contaminated food, and also because there is a general lack of available medical care. It is estimated that for every 100,000 inhabitants of the country, there are only eight doctors and 10 nurses.
Haiti also has the dubious distinction of having the greatest number of orphans in the Western world. Prior to the 2010 earthquake, it is believed there were just under 500,000.
Cock Fighting Is a Popular Sport Amongst Haitian PeopleAnother one of our Haiti facts that might shock some people is in regard to what people do for leisure. In a world which is ever more concerned with animal rights and welfare, it can be shocking to read that cock fighting is a traditional and loved sport amongst the people of Haiti. People taking part in this will take roosters and feed them raw meat and highly spiced seasonings like chili to make them aggressive and more likely to want to fight other roosters. The human winners of these fights will take home anything up to $70, which is more than most people in Haiti earn in a month.
Christopher Columbus Landed on Haiti in 1492, but Thought He Had Discovered India!
However, when he arrived on dry land he was ultimately very confused. At first, he thought he had found India – or Asia. He quickly realized he had not, and that the place he had found was part of the Americas. He chose to give Haiti a different name. He originally called it The Spanish Isle or La Isla Espanola. Over the years, the name morphed into Hispanola and, finally, Haiti.
Women Gained the Right to Vote in 1957, but Rarely Use it
Women gained the right to vote relatively late in the 20th century in Haiti. However, many do not use their vote. This is because there is still a great disparity between the sexes in the country. There is a great proportion of Haitian women who suffer from abuse and mistreatment, and the justice system in the country rarely takes the side of the woman over the man. Therefore, men rarely get punished for crimes against their wives or partners.
Voodoo Is a Legally Established Religion in Haiti
The last of our interesting Haiti facts tells us that during the second term of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2001, Voodoo was allowed to be established as a properly recognized religion alongside Catholicism in the country. Many people in Haiti regularly practice Voodoo anyway, but it is now a state religion and can be practiced freely among the peoples.
Haiti Facts – Facts about Haiti Summary
Facts about Haiti tell us that this economically poor, under-developed country in the Americas still has high rates of infant mortality, and that poor nourishment and disease claim many before they are 10 years old. The country has been beset by natural disasters, earthquakes and hurricanes. There is a great disparity between the sexes, with women seen as undervalued.