|Official Name||Republic of Haiti|
|Location||Western three-eights of the tropical island of Hispaniola in the West Indes. (Eastern part is the Dominican Republic)|
|Size||10,714 square miles (slightly larger than the state of Massachusetts)|
|Population||10.6 million (2015 estimate)|
|Motto||"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"|
|Capitol||Port-au-Prince (pop. 1.2 million)|
|Name of People||Haitians|
|National Languages||French (spoken by 10%)|
Creole - a mixture of Indian, French and Spanish
|Ethnic Groups||African descent 95%|
African and European descent 5%
|Major Religion||Roman Catholic|
voodoo practices are pervasive
|Health||Infant mortality 53/1,000 (2011)|
Life expectancy 63 years (2012)
|Education||Six years compulsory|
Adult literacy 61% (est. 2015)
|Economy||69% lives in poverty|
25% live in abject poverty
Unemployment is estimated at 50%
Poorest country in Western hemisphere
Explored by Columbus on Dec. 6, 1492, Haiti's native Arawaks fell victim to Spanish rule. In 1697, Haiti became the French colony of Saint-Dominique, which became a leading sugarcane producer dependent on slaves. In 1791, an insurrection erupted among the slave population of 480,000, resulting in a declaration of independence by Toussaint l'Ouverture in 1801. Napoléon Bonaparte suppressed the independence movement, but it eventually triumphed in 1804 under Jean-Jacques Dessalines, who gave the new nation the Arawak name Haiti.
Frances Duvalier was elected president in 1957; in 1964, he proclaimed himself president for life. Upon his death in 1971 he was succeeded by his 19-year-old son, Jean-Claude, who also became president for life.
Drought in 1975-77 brought famine, and Hurricane Allen in 1980 destroyed most of the rice, bean, and coffee crops. Following several weeks of unrest, President Jean Claude Duvalier fled Haiti aboard a U.S. Air Force jet in 1986, ending the 28-year dictatorship by the Duvalier family.
In 1987, voters approved a new constitution, but the January 1988 elections were marred by violence and boycotted by the opposition. Gen. Namphy seized control in June, but was ousted by a military coup in September.
Jean-Betrand Aristide was elected president December, 1990. In September, 1991, Aristide was arrested by the military and expelled from the country. Aristide was restored to office and re-elected President in 2000. His election has not been recognized by the international community because of reports of election fraud. As a result, millions of dollars in international aid and loans have been withheld from Haiti, although the country is still expected to pay interest on debts accrued under the Duvalier regime.