100 Beautiful Facts About Haiti


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100 Interesting Facts About Haiti

  • Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and it is also the third-largest country in the Caribbean.
  • Haiti is the second oldest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere after The United States. It gained its independence from France in 1804.
  • It was ruled by seventy different dictators between 1804 and 1915.
  • Soccer is Haiti’s national sport. They first competed in the World Cup in 1974.
  • The majority of Haitians love to gamble. They are even known to beg gods to reveal the winning lottery numbers during voodoo ceremonies.
  • Cockfighting is also very popular in Haiti. The winner of the fight takes home $67, which is almost a month’s salary for someone. Raw meat and hot pepper soaked in rum is fed to the cocks to make them tough and aggressive.
  • Haiti is also one of the most deforested nations of the world. Poor agricultural practices, overgrazing, intensive demand for charcoal and scarcity of land are the leading causes.
  • The average per capita income in Haiti is very low. It is $480 a year with 80% of nationals living below the poverty line.
  • Haiti had more than 430,000 orphans in the region before the 2010 earthquake. The high number of these orphans is also attributed to violence and AIDS.
  • The majority of Haitians’ income is spent on food. Access to other life amenities is neither readily available, nor they can financially afford it. Rural areas in Haiti account for 79% of its population.
  • Out of the 14 airports in Haiti, only four have paved runways. Coffee is the main export crop.
  • Haiti produces half of the world’s supply of vetiver, a root plant used to make luxury perfumes, essential oils and fragrances.
  • Haiti’s electricity supply is intermittent, which spells big trouble for hospitals that require continuous power to operate. To solve this problem when building a new teaching hospital in Haiti, Partners in Health incorporated 1,800 solar panels into the design of the 205,000-square foot, 300-bed Hopital Universitaire de Mirebalais. The University Hospital, located 30 miles north of Port-au-Prince, is the world’s largest solar-powered hospital.  
  • Actress Garcelle Beauvais – best known for her leading roles in NYPD Blue, The Jamie Foxx Show, and, since 2020, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills — was born in Saint-Marc, Haiti in 1966. At age seven Beauvais moved to the United States with her mother and her six elder siblings: settling in Peabody, Massachusetts.
  • Haiti is also known for its illegal drug business with its clients spread all over Central and South America, Europe and the United States. Human trafficking, especially of children, is also prevalent. (Read more interesting facts about South American countries including Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, and Peru)
  • 50% of the nation’s wealth is owned by approximately 1% of Haitians.
  • Corruption is another potential threat to the country and its citizens. It is ranked at the 159th spot out of 176 countries listed by Transparency International. Somalia is the most corrupt country in the world and sits at the 176th spot.
  • Sanitation and water supply are two major challenges for Haitians. Pollution from human and other waste is prevalent in most of the Haitian rivers. Diseases including typhoid and hookworm are common in the region.
  • One in 50 people in Haiti is affected with HIV/AIDS.
  • The sixth-largest death toll in history happened in Haiti in 1963, when Hurricane Flora hit it, causing almost 8000 deaths.
  • Anemia is common among small children between the ages of six months and five years. Read the full report here. 
  • Smallpox was also detected for the first time in Haiti in 1507. At that time, the country was known as Hispaniola.
  • Haiti’s second largest city Cap-Haïtien, with a population of 190,000, is located on the country’s north coast.
  • Most tourists visit Haiti via Royal Caribbean International’s Labadee beach resort compound that is six miles northwest of Cap-Haitien. This private resort — leased by RCI — has generated the largest proportion of tourist revenue to Haiti since 1986. The resort employs hundreds of local residents and pays the Haitian government a significant head tax for every cruise ship visitor.
  • On January 1, 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaimed the Haitian Declaration of Independence, marking the end of 13-year long Haitian Revolution with France. The declaration marked Haiti’s becoming the first independent Black nation in the Western Hemisphere, and the only successful slave revolution in history.
  • Only two copies of the original printed Haitian Declaration of Independence exist today; remarkably, they were both discovered in 2010 and 2011 in the United Kingdom’s National Archives by Julia Gaffield, a Duke University graduate student. They are currently held by The National Archives, Kew, outside of London.
  • Haitians spend the first two days of each year celebrating Haitian Independence Day with dancing, music and soup joumou. While Haiti was under French colonial rule, African slaves were forced to cultivate pumpkin squash and make the soup for their masters but were specially forbidden from eating it.
  • Most interestingly, Haiti claims La Navasse (Navassa Island) which is subject to an ongoing territorial dispute between Haiti and the United States.
  • Navassa Island is located 40 nautical miles southwest of mainland Haiti. In 1857, when Haiti was a French colony, Navassa was claimed by the United States under the Guano Islands Act. Between 1865 and 1898, a U.S. company mined more than a million tons of bird guano for fertilizer from Navassa.
  • Navassa Island is designated as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. It is also considered one of the 14 U.S. territories.  Since 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has jurisdiction over Navassa Island, managing it as a National Wildlife Refuge.
  • In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on the island and named it Hispaniola. A monument of Christopher Columbus stands on the central square of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, which is home to 20% of the country’s population.
  • Columbus’ first sight of Haiti gave him the impression that he found India or Asia.
  • The largest mountaintop fortress in the Western Hemisphere is also in northern Haiti – the Citadel.
  • Haiti’s highest peak is the Pic la Selle at 8,793 feet (2,680 meters) above sea level.
  • The city of Port-au-Prince is Haiti’s capital as well as its largest city with an estimated 2.84 million residents in 2021.
  • Incorporated in 1749 when Haiti was under French colonial rule, Port-au-Prince has always been the country’s hub of economic activity. The city lies on the coast of Gulf of Gonâve, which acts as a natural harbor.
  • The Musée du Panthéon National Haïtien (National Pantheon Museum) in Port-au-Prince opened in 1983. The museum features exhibits on Haitian history and culture, and includes a section dedicated to the heroes of Haiti’s independence.
  • In addition to its mainland, several offshore islands are part of Haiti. Tortuga Island is located off Haiti’s northern coast. Gonâve, Haiti’s largest island, sits near the middle of the Gulf of Gonâve, while the Cayemites — a pair of islands are north of Pestel. Île à Vache (Cow Island) is located off Haiti’s southwest coast.
  • Haitians also mark special occasions by drinking cremas (or kremas,) the celebration drink of Haiti that has a creamy milkshake-like consistency. Made with a combination of condensed and evaporated milk, plus cream of coconut, cremas is flavored with nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, and lime juice. Then, cremas is made “festive” with the addition of clairin, a clear, moonshine-like liquor made in Haiti’s rural areas. 
  • Alternatively, some cremas recipes call for the world-renown Barbancourt rum, produced in Haiti since 1862. 
  • Commissioned in 1805 by Henri Christophe and completed in 1820, 20,000 former slaves built Haiti’s Citadelle Laferrière atop the 3,000 ft Bonnet a L’Eveque mountain. The Citadel’s location provided an optimal vantage point to see and thwart potential invaders.
  • Haiti has the most mountains of any Caribbean nation.
  • Unfair labor practices are prevalent in the country, and the majority of people are jobless. Poor road conditions have had disastrous effects on farmers who face serious problems in taking their goods to markets and towns.
  • Literacy: in Haiti; only 60.7% of its population can read and write.
  • Haiti is at the bottom among North American countries in the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (NRI). This rating is an indicator determining the country’s technology and information development. Mobile phones and internet connections are reserved for the wealthy minority and business interests in the capital.
  • There is just one public university in Haiti: the University of Haiti in Port-au-Prince, founded in 1944. Wealthy students prefer overseas educational institutions and universities.
  • A cholera outbreak in the country in 2010 caused the death of more than 8,900 people, and affected 733,000 others, lasting until 2015.
  • Haitian children are prone to deaths, as more than 10% of them die before reaching the age of five. Half of its children are unvaccinated.
  • Only 40% of its population has access to basic health care. It is also the most densely populated country in the Western Hemisphere, with 747 people per square mile.
  • Haiti is the only other nation in the Americas to have French as its official language. Wondering what is the other nation? It is Canada.
  • Haiti was once a haven for pirates from the Caribbean. Haiti had gold mines and easy escape routes for the pirates, and they (Haitians) also served as local laborers for mining and plantation work by the pirates.
  • Gourde, Haiti’s currency, is named after a plant called ‘gourd.’
  • French and Haitian Creole are the official languages of Haiti.
  • Christopher Columbus is also buried in Haiti in the Cathedral of Santa Maria.
  • Slaves were sold by Haiti to other countries, which brought them great wealth at the time.
  • The 2010 earthquake caused devastation to such an extent that as per experts, it will take decades to rebuild the lost infrastructure to support: health, governance, agriculture, and security. It also claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Haitians.
  • Haiti is a small country with a large population. As you can see on the map above, Haiti covers a slightly smaller area than the U.S. state of Maryland. When comparing populations however, 5.2 million more people live in Haiti than live in Maryland.
  • With an estimated population of 11.2 million in 2021, Haiti is the most populas country in the Caribbean.
  • From 1659 to 1804 — while it was a French colony — Haiti was called Saint-Domingue.
  • On Jan. 1, 1804, the first thing Haitians did to celebrate their newfound independence was to sing, dance and eat the formerly forbidden “soup joumou.” While the recipe varies from family to family, it generally includes pumpkin, calabaza or other squash, marinated beef or chicken, onions, peppers and herbs, plus an assortment of other vegetables and pasta.
  • A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, the Citadelle Laferrière is Haiti’s most visited tourist site, even though the visit requires going up a 7-mile stone path, that requires hiking or riding on a horse during the last third of the trail.
  • John James Audubon, who painted, catalogued and described the birds of North America was born in Les Cayes, Saint-Domingue (later Haiti) on April 26, 1785. He spent most of his childhood in France. Audubon emigrated to the United States as a young man.
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