Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fast Facts: Haiti

by Aly Lewis

As I was putting together information packets for our wonderful village sponsors, I learned a ton about the countries where we work. For example, did you know that Tanzania's population consists of roughly one-third each Muslims, Christians and followers of indigenous religious groups? I sure didn’t. I appreciated learning more about the places where we work so much that I’m going to share a little bit of what I learned with you. Today I’m going to give you the low down on Haiti. Enjoy and don’t forget to stay tuned for fast facts on all of the countries where we work!


Location: Caribbean, western one third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic.

Population: 9,035,536

Total area: 27,750 sq km (slightly smaller than Maryland)

Population below poverty line: 80%

Literacy: Of Haiti's 8.7 million inhabitants, just below half are illiterate. The literacy rate of 52.9% is the lowest in the region.

Forests: In 1925, Haiti was lush, with 60% of its original forest covering the lands and mountainous regions. Since then, the population has cut down all but an estimated 2% of its original forest cover, and in the process has destroyed fertile farmland soils, contributing to desertification.

The island nation of Haiti, once one of the most beautiful spots in the world, has now become synonymous with rampant poverty and misery. Haiti’s unstable government, broken economy, and devastated environment combine to make it the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. Faced with limited options and an increasingly low quality of life, farmers are often forced to flee their lands and migrate to the swarming, filthy streets of the urban slums in Port au Prince, the nation’s overcrowded capital city. Recent food riots in Port au Prince, and reports of people eating dirt have only served to highlight the urgency of the situation and the need for long-term solutions.

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