Background: One of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has suffered from political violence for much of its history. More than three decades of dictatorship followed by a military regime ended in 1990 when Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE was elected president. Most of his term was illegitimately ruled by the military that had seized power, but the president was able to return to power in 1994 and watch a close associate take the presidency in 1996. ARISTIDE won the 2000 presidential election and took office early the following year.
Location: Caribbean region, western third of the island of Haiti (Hispaniola), between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic.
Geographical coordinates: 19° 00′ N. latitude, 72° 25′ W e.
Reference map: Central America and the Caribbean.
Area: total: 27,750 km2; land surface area: 27,560 km2; water surface area: 190 km2
Comparative area: somewhat smaller than the state of Maryland.
Land borders: total: 275 km; with neighboring states: with the Dominican Republic 275 km.
Coastline: 1,771 km.
Maritime claims: neutral waters: 24 nautical miles; continental shelf: depth of field development; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: tropical; arid in those places where the mountains in the east block the path of the trade winds.
Terrain: mostly rugged mountainous terrain.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m; highest point: Selle Range 2,680 m.
Natural resources: bauxite, copper, chalk, gold, marble, hydropower.
Land use: arable land: 20%; cultivated land: 13%; pastures: 18%; forests and plantations: 5%; others: 44% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 750 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural Hazards: Lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and is prone to severe storms from June to October; floods and earthquakes occur; periodic droughts.
Current environmental issues: large-scale deforestation (a significant part of the remaining forests is cut down for agriculture and used as fuel); soil erosion; insufficient supply of drinking water.
International agreements on environmental protection: member: Biodiversity, Climate change, Desertification, Law of the sea, Marine pollution, Marine life conservation; Ozone layer protection; signed but not ratified: Hazardous Waste, Nuclear Test Ban.
Note to the section “Geography”: shares the island of Haiti (Hispaniola) with the Dominican Republic (occupying two-thirds of the island in the east).
Population: 6,964,549; note: estimates for this country take into account rising AIDS deaths; due to the spread of AIDS, life expectancy, population size and population growth may actually be lower, and child mortality and overall mortality rates correspondingly higher; there may also be changes in age structure and sex ratios (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 40.31% (male 1,421,945; female 1,385,580); 15 to 64 years old: 55.52% (male 1,869,323; female, 1,997,246); over 65: 4.17% (male 140,556; female 149,899) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 1.4% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 31.68 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 15 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: -2.64 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; up to 15 years: 1.03 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 0.94 male/female; over 65: 0.94 male/female; for the general population: 0.97 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 95.23 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 49.38 years; men: 47.67 years; women: 51.17 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 4.4 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 5.17% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: 210,000 (1999 est.).
AIDS deaths: 23,000 (1999 est.).
Nationality: noun: Haitian; adjective: Haitian.
Ethnic groups: black 95%, mulatto and white 5%.
Believers: Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other Protestant 1%), non-denominational 1%, other 3% (1982); note: about half of the population also takes part in Budu cults.
Language(s): French (official), Creole (official).
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 45%; men: 48%; women: 42.2% (1995 est.).
conventional long form: Republic of Haiti;
conventional short form: Haiti; local long form: Republique d’Haiti; local short form: Haiti.
State structure: elected government. See a2zgov.com to know more about Haiti government and politics.
Administrative division: 9 departments: Artibonite, Grand Anse, West, North, Northeast, Northwest, Central, Southeast, South.
Independence: from January 1, 1804 (until 1804 – a colony of France).
National holiday: Independence Day, January 1 (1804).
Constitution: adopted in March 1987; suspended in June 1988, most of the articles reinstated in March 1989; in October 1991, the government committed itself to upholding the constitution; constitutional government restored in October 1994
Legal system: based on Roman civil law; subject to the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
chief of state: President Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE (since 7 February 2001);
head of government: Prime Minister Jean-Marie CHERESTAL (since 9 February 2001);
Government: the cabinet is formed by the prime minister after consultation with the president; elections: the president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term; elections last held 20 November 2000 (next to be held in 2005); the prime minister is appointed by the president and approved by the parliament; election results: Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE elected president; Percentage of votes won: Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE 92%.
Legislature: the bicameral National Assembly consists of the Senate (27 seats; members serve six years; one third are elected every two years) and the Chamber of Deputies (83 seats; members are elected by popular vote for four years); elections: Senate – the last to elect two-thirds of the members of the chamber were held on May 21, 2000, the second round on July 9 was boycotted by the opposition; about eight mandates are still contested; elections to fill one-third of the seats were held on 26 November 2000 (next to be held in 2002); Chamber of Deputies – last held on May 21, 2000, the second round on July 9 was boycotted by the opposition; elections for one vacant seat were held on 26 November 2000 (next elections to be held in 2004); election results: Senate – distribution of votes between parties: NA; distribution of seats among parties: FL 26, independent 1; Chamber of Deputies – distribution of votes between parties: no data; distribution of seats among parties: FL 73, OPL 1, small parties and independent 9.
Judiciary: Supreme Court (Cour de Cassation).
Political parties and leaders: Alliance for the Liberation and Progress of Haiti (ALAH) (Reynold GEORGES); Assembly of Progressive National Democrats (RDNP) (Leslie MANIGAT); Convergence (opposition coalition, includes ESPACE, OPL, MOCHRENA) (Gerard PIERRE-CHARLES, Evans PAUL, Luc MESADIEU, Victor BENOIT); The Coalition “Democratic Advisory Group” (ESPACE) (Evans POL, Victor BENO), includes the following parties: National Congress of Democratic Movements (KONAKOM), National Progressive Revolutionary Party (PANPRA), Generation 2001, “Haiti Can”; Haitian Christian Democratic Party (PDCH) (Marie-France CLAUDE); Haitian Democratic Party (PADEM) (Clark PARENT); Lavalas Family (Laval Family) (FL) (Jean-Bertrand ARISTIDE); Mobilization for National Development (MDN) (Hubert DE RONCERAY); Movement for National Reconstruction (MRN) (Rene THEODORE); Movement for Democracy in Haiti (MIDH) (Marc BAZIN); Settlement Movement (MOR) (Gesner COMO, Jean MOLIERE [Gesner COMEAU, Jean MOLIERE]); National Front for Change and Democracy (FNCD) (Evans POL, Turneb DELPE); New Christian Movement for a New Haiti (MOCHREMA) (Luc MESADIER); Organization of the Fighting People (OPL) (Gerard PIERRE-CHARLES). Settlement Movement (MOR) (Gesner COMO, Jean MOLIERE [Gesner COMEAU, Jean MOLIERE]); National Front for Change and Democracy (FNCD) (Evans POL, Turneb DELPE); New Christian Movement for a New Haiti (MOCHREMA) (Luc MESADIER); Organization of the Fighting People (OPL) (Gerard PIERRE-CHARLES). Settlement Movement (MOR) (Gesner COMO, Jean MOLIERE [Gesner COMEAU, Jean MOLIERE]); National Front for Change and Democracy (FNCD) (Evans POL, Turneb DELPE); New Christian Movement for a New Haiti (MOCHREMA) (Luc MESADIER); Organization of the Fighting People (OPL) (Gerard PIERRE-CHARLES).
Political pressure groups and their leaders: Independent Haitian Workers (HATH); Confederation of Haitian Workers (HTH); Federation of Workers’ Unions (FOS); National People’s Assembly (APN); Peasant Movement <Papaya> (MRR); United People’s Organization Power (PROP); Catholic Church.
Participation in international organizations: ACCT, ACP, Caricom (observer), CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, LAES, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: head of mission: ambassador (seat is vacant); chargé d’affaires Louis Harold JOSEPH; office: 2311 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; phone:  (202) 332-4090; fax: [\) (202) 745-7215; consulates general: Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, San Juan (Puerto Rico).
US Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador Brian Dean CURRAN; embassy: 5 Harry Tgimap Boulevard, Port-au-Prince; mailing address: R. O. Box 1761, Port-au-Prince; phone:  22-0354, 222-0269, 222-0200, 223-4776, 22-0612; fax:  23-1641.
Flag Description: two equal horizontal bands of blue (top) and red with a white rectangle and coat of arms in the center. The coat of arms features a palm tree flanked by flags and two cannons above a scroll inscribed L’UNION FAIT LA FORCE (Unity breeds strength).