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Haiti

 

Haiti
Creative Commons AttributionHaiti - Credit: Michelle Walz Eriksson

 

Haiti is a small nation of about 27,750 square miles, located in the Carribbean Sea. It shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. The capitol, Port-au-Prince, is home to more than 2 million people, and the total population of the country is about 9.8 million. More than half of the population is under 20 years old.

Haiti has a unique and important history. It was the first Latin American nation to declare independence in a slave rebellion in 1804. This also made Haiti the first black-led republic in the world. Since the rebellion, Haiti has been ruled by a series of oppressive dictators. It remains the poorest country in the Americas, in part because of the political turmoil and violence that have plagued the country.

haitian earthquake
Creative Commons Attribution Homes destroyed after the earthquake

On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the country, with the epicenter just ouside Port-au-Prince. Some estimates put the death toll for this natural disaster at more than 200,000. Some suggest that, "Haiti will quite literally need to be rebuilt from the ground up."

Adding to the problem of recovery is Haiti's underlying poor health. Many children are unvaccinated, many people have no access to basic health care, and diseases like HIV/AIDS, meningitis, cholera, and tuberculosis have much higher incidence in Haiti than anywhere else in the world.

One organization doing work in Haiti is Paul Farmer's Zanmi Lasante, which is profiled in Mountains Beyond Mountains.