After many years of poverty, violence, instability and very brutal regimes, Haiti is now Latin America’s poorest country. A major earthquake in 2010 brought enormous material damage and made 3 million people dependent on emergency aid.
Key figures and facts
- Capital: Port-au-Prince
- Ethnic groups: African origin 95%, European origin/mixed 5%
- Language: French (official), Creole (official)
- Religion: Catholics 54.7%, Protestants 28.5% (Baptists 15.4%, Pentecostal 7.9%, Adventists 3%, Methodist 1.5%, others 0.7%), voodo 2.1%, others 4, 6%, not 10.2%, (many practice elements of voodoo as part of other religions) (2003).
- Population: 11 112 945 (2018)
- Control Form: Republic
- Area: 27 750 Km2
- Currency: Gourde
- GNP per capita: 1 784 PPP $
- National Day: January 1st
In 2016, Haiti’s population was estimated to be 10,847,334 by the World Bank. Life expectancy has increased from 56 years in 1995 to 63 years in 2015. Deep poverty combined with economic and social collapse has led to large illegal emigration to the Dominican Republic and the United States.
About 95 percent of the population is descended from African slaves. The rest is mostly of mixed origin, which throughout most of the country’s history has been the governing class of society and has gone by the name of “elite”.
Population density is very high, and in several places the population density is so great that scarce land resources are under great pressure. About 60 percent of the population lives in cities. The most densely populated are the Cul-de-Sac descent with Port-au-Prince, the descent around Lake Étang Saumâtre and the Artibonite Valley. The capital Port-au-Prince is Haiti’s largest city with around 2.44 million residents (2015).
There is religious freedom in Haiti. About 54 percent of the population is Catholic and about 28 percent are Protestants (Adventists, Baptists, Pentecostals). An unknown but significant number also practice voodoo, a traditional, popular form of religion based on elements of West African religions and Catholicism. In 2003, Voodoo was officially recognized as a religion in Haiti, in line with the other religious directions.
The official languages are French and Haitian Creole (Haitian) with vocabulary mainly derived from French. More than 90 percent of the population is native to Creole, and the rest are fully bilingual. Creole now has a standard written language.