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The native Taino - who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by Christopher COLUMBUS in 1492 - were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola. In 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island, which later became Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation. In the late 18th century, Haiti's nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L'OUVERTURE. After a prolonged struggle, Haiti became the first post-colonial black-led nation in the world, declaring its independence in 1804. Currently the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has experienced political instability for most of its history. A massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010 with an epicenter about 25 km (15 mi) west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Estimates are that over 300,000 people were killed and some 1.5 million left homeless. The earthquake was assessed as the worst in this region over the last 200 years. President Michel MARTELLY resigned in February 2016 and was replaced by Interim President Jocelerme PRIVERT. President-elect Jovenel MOISE won the November 2016 elections and assumed office in February 2017.


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

Natural Resources

bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble, hydropower, arable land

Population - distribution

fairly even distribution; largest concentrations located near coastal areas

French (official), Creole (official)
PORT-AU-PRINCE (capital) 2.44 million (2015)
Conventional long form
Republic of Haiti
Conventional short form
Local long form
Republique d'Haiti/Repiblik d Ayiti
Local short form
semi-presidential republic
Geographic coordinates
18 32 N, 72 20 W
Time difference
UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time
+1hr, begins second Sunday in March; ends first Sunday in November
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; non-party state to the ICCt
Haiti is a free market economy with low labor costs and tariff-free access to the US for many of its exports. Two-fifths of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, which remains vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters. Poverty, corruption, vulnerability to natural disasters, and low levels of education for much of the population represent some of the most serious impediments to Haiti’s economic growth. Remittances are the primary source of foreign exchange, equivalent to more than a quarter of GDP, and nearly double the combined value of Haitian exports and foreign direct investment.
External debt stocks
US$ 2,084,271,000
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -234,109,057
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 4,109,301,856
Exports of goods and services
US$ 1,651,664,687
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 109,430,000
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 676,609,514
coffee, mangoes, cocoa, sugarcane, rice, corn, sorghum; wood, vetiver
textiles, sugar refining, flour milling, cement, light assembly using imported parts
apparel, manufactures, oils, cocoa, mangoes, coffee
US 85.7% (2015)
food, manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, raw materials
Dominican Republic 35.4%, US 24.6%, Netherlands Antilles 9.5%, China 9.4% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
A high-risk political and economic situation and an often very difficult business environment can have a very significant impact on corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is very high.
Business Climate Rating
The highest possible risk in terms of business climate. Due to a lack of available financial information and an unpredictable legal system, doing business in this country is extremely difficult.
  • Development and reconstruction programs defined with lenders
  • Membership of various regional organizations (Association of Caribbean States, Organization of American States, CARICOM, CARIFORUM)
  • Low level of development and extreme poverty (ranked 168th out of 187 on the Human Development Index)
  • Highly vulnerable to natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes...)
  • Infrastructures deficit
  • Decline in international aid since the 2010 earthquake (from 16.5% of GDP in 2011 to 5.6% in 2015)
  • Political instability and insecurity
  • Energy dependence (oil)
  • Dependence on migrants' remittances and international aid
  • Governance and business climate shortcomings

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