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Haiti-Urban Dominance, Rural Stagnation

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Haiti Index

A sharp administrative division existed between rural and urban jurisdictions. The capital city dominated the urban sector. National political institutions and decisions focused on Port-au-Prince, and they were far removed from the lives of most Haitians. References to the "Republic of Port-au-Prince" reflected this reality. The political system affected all Haitians, but changes in government generally had little direct impact on the lives of rural Haitians.

Data from 1984 suggested that the government spent about 65 percent of its revenues in Port-au-Prince, a city with roughly 20 percent of the nation's population. In effect, taxes levied in rural areas paid the salaries of a privileged group of city dwellers.

Foreign assistance also tended to exacerbate rural-urban differences. About 40 percent of all public foreign aid benefited Port-au-Prince.

In rural Haiti, the army was the government. The official role of the armed forces was national defense, but most members of the military carried out police functions (see The Role of the Armed Forces , ch. 10). Perhaps the most influential presence was that of the denim-uniformed corps of 562 rural section chiefs (chefs de section) and their assistants. People commonly referred to the section chief and his corps of assistants as leta (the state), although the section chiefs constituted more on auxiliary corps and were not members of the regular army.

The rural section chiefs were usually recruited from a small class of landed peasant families known as gro neg (big man) or gran abitan (large peasant). These families generally had other economic interests in addition to farming, including grain speculation, moneylending, and various forms of commerce. Appointments of section chiefs were usually based on political ties, factional alliances, and bribes. In many cases the positions were inherited.

The role of section chief involved much more than conventional police functions. As the sole government representative in rural areas, the section chief levied taxes and fines, mediated disputes, and served as a civil registry. These responsibilities placed the section chief in a powerful political and economic position. He was well situated to collect bribes; rural police refused to provide services to citizens who did not make special payments to them. The virtual absence of competing power brokers buttressed the section chiefs' positions. The 1987 Constitution set up rural government councils in an attempt to curb abuses by section chiefs and to mediate the interests of rural citizens in the political process. These councils, however, were also subject to graft and corruption.

Centralized authority in the presidency contrasted with the decentralized exercise of authority by local government officials. Port-au-Prince provided no policy direction for local governments, and it did little to monitor them. Few funds were made available to local governments for expenses other than salaries. Certain local officials, such as section chiefs, exercised absolute power within their local jurisdictions. They did not depend on salaries for their income; in a sense, they purchased from the state the privilege of collecting revenues by virtue of their authority and their power to grant favors.

Data as of December 1989

BackgroundThe native Taino Amerindians - who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by COLUMBUS in 1492 - were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola. In 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island, which later became 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 L'OUVERTURE. After a prolonged struggle, Haiti became the first black republic to declare independence in 1804. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. After an armed rebellion led to the forced resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE in February 2004, an interim government took office to organize new elections under the auspices of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Continued violence and technical delays prompted repeated postponements, but Haiti finally did inaugurate a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006.
LocationCaribbean, western one-third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic
Area(sq km)total: 27,750 sq km
land: 27,560 sq km
water: 190 sq km
Geographic coordinates19 00 N, 72 25 W
Land boundaries(km)total: 360 km
border countries: Dominican Republic 360 km

Coastline(km)1,771 km

Climatetropical; semiarid where mountains in east cut off trade winds

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Chaine de la Selle 2,680 m
Natural resourcesbauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble, hydropower
Land use(%)arable land: 28.11%
permanent crops: 11.53%
other: 60.36% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)920 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)14 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 0.99 cu km/yr (5%/1%/94%)
per capita: 116 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardslies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding and earthquakes; periodic droughts
Environment - current issuesextensive deforestation (much of the remaining forested land is being cleared for agriculture and used as fuel); soil erosion; inadequate supplies of potable water
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes
Geography - noteshares island of Hispaniola with Dominican Republic (western one-third is Haiti, eastern two-thirds is the Dominican Republic)
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 38.1% (male 1,735,917/female 1,704,383)
15-64 years: 58.5% (male 2,621,059/female 2,665,447)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 120,040/female 188,690) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 20.2 years
male: 19.8 years
female: 20.7 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)1.838% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)29.1 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)8.65 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-2.07 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 47% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 4.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 59.69 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 66.18 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 53.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 60.78 years
male: 59.13 years
female: 62.48 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)3.81 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Haitian(s)
adjective: Haitian
Ethnic groups(%)black 95%, mulatto and white 5%

Religions(%)Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%), none 1%, other 3%
note: roughly half of the population practices voodoo
Languages(%)French (official), Creole (official)

Country nameconventional long form: Republic of Haiti
conventional short form: Haiti
local long form: Republique d'Haiti/Repiblik d' Ayiti
local short form: Haiti/Ayiti
Government typerepublic
Capitalname: Port-au-Prince
geographic coordinates: 18 32 N, 72 20 W
time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins first Sunday in April; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions10 departments (departements, singular - departement); Artibonite, Centre, Grand 'Anse, Nippes, Nord, Nord-Est, Nord-Ouest, Ouest, Sud, Sud-Est
Constitutionapproved March 1987
note: suspended June 1988 with most articles reinstated March 1989; constitutional government ousted in a military coup in September 1991, although in October 1991 military government claimed to be observing the constitution; returned to constitutional rule in October 1994; constitution, while technically in force between 2004-2006, was not enforced; returned to constitutional rule in May 2006

Legal systembased on Roman civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Rene PREVAL (since 14 May 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Jean-Max BELLERIVE (since 7 November 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held 7 February 2006 (next to be held in 2011); prime minister appointed by the president, ratified by the National Assembly
election results: Rene PREVAL elected president; percent of vote - Rene PREVAL 51%

Legislative branchbicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale consists of the Senate (30 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms; one-third elected every two years) and the Chamber of Deputies (99 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms); note - in reestablishing the Senate, the candidate in each department receiving the most votes in the last election serves six years, the candidate with the second most votes serves four years, and the candidate with the third most votes serves two years
elections: Senate - last held 21 April 2006 with run-off elections on 3 December 2006 (next regular election, for one third of seats, to be held in 2008); Chamber of Deputies - last held 21 April 2006 with run-off elections on 3 December 2006 and 29 April 2007 (next regular election to be held in 2010)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - L'ESPWA 11, FUSION 5, OPL 4, FL 3, LAAA 2, UNCRH 2, PONT 2, ALYANS 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - L'ESPWA 23, FUSION 17, FRN 12, OPL 10, ALYANS 10, LAAA 5, MPH 3, MOCHRENA 3, other 10; results for six other seats contested on 3 December 2006 remain unknown

Judicial branchSupreme Court or Cour de Cassation

Political pressure groups and leadersAutonomous Organizations of Haitian Workers or CATH [Fignole ST-CYR]; Confederation of Haitian Workers or CTH; Federation of Workers Trade Unions or FOS; General Organization of Independent Haitian Workers [Patrick NUMAS]; Grand-Anse Resistance Committee, or KOREGA; National Popular Assembly or APN; Papaye Peasants Movement or MPP [Chavannes JEAN-BAPTISTE]; Popular Organizations Gathering Power or PROP; Protestant Federation of Haiti; Roman Catholic Church
International organization participationACP, Caricom, CDB, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OIF, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, PetroCaribe, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptiontwo equal horizontal bands of blue (top) and red with a centered white rectangle bearing the coat of arms, which contains a palm tree flanked by flags and two cannons above a scroll bearing the motto L'UNION FAIT LA FORCE (Union Makes Strength); the colors are taken from the French Tricolor and represent the union of blacks and mulattoes

Economy - overviewHaiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, exacerbated by the country's widespread deforestation. While the economy has recovered in recent years, registering positive growth since 2005, four tropical storms in 2008 severely damaged the transportation infrastructure and agricultural sector. US economic engagement under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act, passed in December 2006, has boosted apparel exports and investment by providing tariff-free access to the US. HOPE II, passed in October 2008, has further improved the export environment for the apparel sector by extending preferences to 2018; the apparel sector accounts for two-thirds of Haitian exports and nearly one-tenth of GDP. Remittances are the primary source of foreign exchange, equaling nearly a quarter of GDP and more than twice the earnings from exports. Haiti suffers from high inflation, a lack of investment because of insecurity and limited infrastructure, and a severe trade deficit. In 2005, Haiti paid its arrears to the World Bank, paving the way for reengagement with the Bank. Haiti is expected to receive debt forgiveness for about $525 million of its debt through the Highly-Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative by mid-2009. The government relies on formal international economic assistance for fiscal sustainability.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$11.53 billion (2008 est.)
$11.38 billion (2007 est.)
$11 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$6.943 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)1.3% (2008 est.)
3.4% (2007 est.)
2.3% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$1,300 (2008 est.)
$1,300 (2007 est.)
$1,300 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 28%
industry: 20%
services: 52% (2004 est.)
Labor force3.643 million
note: shortage of skilled labor, unskilled labor abundant (2007)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 66%
industry: 9%
services: 25% (1995)
Unemployment rate(%)NA%
note: widespread unemployment and underemployment; more than two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs
Population below poverty line(%)80% (2003 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 0.7%
highest 10%: 47.7% (2001)
Distribution of family income - Gini index59.2 (2001)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)28.9% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $967.5 million
expenditures: $1.162 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)15.5% (2008 est.)
8.5% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$NA (31 December 2008)
$704.7 million (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$NA (31 December 2008)
$1.561 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$NA (31 December 2008)
$1.537 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Economic aid - recipient$515 million (2005 est.)

Agriculture - productscoffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, sorghum; wood
Industriessugar refining, flour milling, textiles, cement, light assembly based on imported parts

Industrial production growth rate(%)0% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$611 million (2008 est.)
-$407 million (2007 est.)
Exports$490 million (2008 est.)
$522 million (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)apparel, manufactures, oils, cocoa, mangoes, coffee
Exports - partners(%)US 70.7%, Dominican Republic 8.9%, Canada 3.1% (2008)
Imports$2.107 billion (2008 est.)
$1.618 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)food, manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, raw materials
Imports - partners(%)US 34%, Dominican Republic 23.1%, Netherlands Antilles 10.6%, China 4.5% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$708 million (31 December 2008 est.)
$555 million (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$1.817 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$1.475 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Exchange ratesgourdes (HTG) per US dollar - 39.216 (2008 est.), 37.138 (2007), 40.232 (2006), 40.449 (2005), 38.352 (2004)

Currency (code)gourde (HTG)

Telephones - main lines in use108,000 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular3.2 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: telecommunications infrastructure is among the least developed in Latin America and the Caribbean; domestic facilities barely adequate; international facilities slightly better; mobile-cellular telephone services are expanding rapidly due, in part, to the introduction of low-cost GSM phones in 2006
domestic: coaxial cable and microwave radio relay trunk service
international: country code - 509; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Internet country code.ht
Internet users1 million (2008)
Airports14 (2009)
Roadways(km)total: 4,160 km
paved: 1,011 km
unpaved: 3,149 km (2000)

Ports and terminalsCap-Haitien
Military branchesno regular military forces - small Coast Guard; the regular Haitian Armed Forces (FAdH) - Army, Navy, and Air Force - have been demobilized but still exist on paper until or unless they are constitutionally abolished (2009)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 2,047,083
females age 16-49: 2,047,953 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 1,518,840
females age 16-49: 1,530,043 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 108,444
female: 106,243 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)0.4% of GDP (2006)
Disputes - internationalsince 2004, about 8,000 peacekeepers from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) maintain civil order in Haiti; despite efforts to control illegal migration, Haitians cross into the Dominican Republic and sail to neighboring countries; Haiti claims US-administered Navassa Island

Electricity - production(kWh)448 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 60.3%
hydro: 39.7%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)273 million kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)12,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)12,280 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)2.2% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS120,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths7,200 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52.9%
male: 54.8%
female: 51.2% (2003 est.)

Education expenditures(% of GDP)1.4% of GDP (1991)

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