Haiti at a glance
Haiti is a Caribbean country occupying the western third of Hispaniola, sharing the island with the Dominican Republic. It is located 50 miles from Cuba, and 600 miles from Florida. It is about the size of the state of Maryland with a population of nearly 10 million people.
Haiti has a history of poverty due to a variety of factors such as war, occupations and dictatorships, isolation, and racism. These factors are still impacting Haiti today along with current economic and environmental factors such as international aid sanctions, internal political conflict, hurricanes, earthquakes, and deforestation that leads to soil erosion and flooding.
Statistics today show that 80% of Haitians are Roman Catholic and 12% Protestant. The number of Protestants has been growing steadily. Baptists and Pentecostals are the largest registered denominations, although many others are represented. In the same breadth, however, 50% of Haitians continue to practice Voodoo. This means many incorporate Voodoo into Christianity and Catholicism (syncretism), as has been done for several hundred years.
Even with all the struggles that Haiti faces, they remain a people with open arms and smiling faces. It is a culture rich in music, art, and storytelling. The land is graced with beautiful beaches and breathtaking mountains.
The vast majority of Haitians (79%) earn less than $2 a day, which is considered the poverty line. Many of them live in abject poverty. More than two thirds of the labor force is without formal jobs and the literacy rate is roughly 50% of its population age 15 and older. There have been estimates that the wealthiest 1 percent of the country control 60% of its wealth.
More than half of the population lacks access to clean water or sanitation, which makes them subject to many diseases. Fifty percent of the population is undernourished, with one in five children underweight or under-size for their age. Twelve percent of Haitian children die before their first birthday, and one third do not make it to their fifth.