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Haiti Information - Page 2
History
Amerindian people lived on the island of Hispaniola many hundreds of years before European colonization.

Columbus landed on Hispaniola in 1492. Soon after, Santo Domingo was founded becoming the first Spanish Colony in the Americas.

French colonists arrived in the early seventeenth century.

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, under the Treaty of Ryswick, the island of Hispaniola was divided between Spain and France. Santo Domingo remained Spanish but the western part of Hispaniola (Haiti) went to France.

The French established a plantation economy bringing slaves from Africa to work in the sugar and coffee plantations.

A slave uprising in the 1790s led to Haiti becoming a Republic on 1 January 1804.

Over the years, Haiti suffered political and economic problems. Political instability led to US occupation of Haiti in 1915 to protect US interests. The US withdrew its forces in 1934 but kept a degree of control until after the Second World War.

A military coup in 1956 installed Francois Duvalier, known as Papa Doc, as dictator. Aided by the Tontons Macoute - the secret police - Duvalier remained in power until his death in 1971.

Duvalier was succeeded by his son, Jean-Claude (Baby Doc), who ruled Haiti until he was forced to leave the country in 1986.

In 1990 Jean-Bertrand Aristide became the country's first democratically elected president. However, soon after his election Aristide was ousted from office. The US imposed sanctions on Haiti, followed by United Nations sanctions in 1993. UN peacekeeping troops were deployed in the country in 1995.

Aristide was elected president for a second term in 2000. However, again he was forced from office (2004) and an interim government took over the country. A government was elected in May 2006.

Economy
Haiti's economy suffered a severe setback following an earthquake in January 2010 which destroyed much of the capital and surrounding areas.

The country's services sector accounts for the largest percentage of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

A high proportion of Haitians working abroad send remittances home; this is an important source of foreign exchange for the country The agricultural sector produces a significant percentage of the GDP. A large number of the working population is employed in farming; many are subsistence farmers. Agricultural products are coffee, sugarcane, rice, corn, sorghum and mangoes. Industries include cement, light assembly, sugar refining, flour milling and textiles. (2011)

Arts
Music is an important part of Haitian life. Meringue is the national dance music.

Haiti's annual Carnival is an opportunity to celebrate music and dance. Rara festivities take place around Easter and are celebrated in villages, towns and cities. Rara originates from the Voodoo religion.

Cultural centres in Haiti include the Haiti National Museum, the Museum of the Haitian People and the Centre d'Art in Port-au-Prince.

Sport
Football is the most popular team sport in Haiti. Volleyball is also played.

Water sports include snorkeling, diving and sailing.

Holidays
New Year's Day and Independence Day are celebrated on 1 January. Other holidays include Ancestor's Day (2 January), Easter, Labour Day (1 May), Anniversary of the Death of Jean-Jacques Dessalines (17 October), All Saints Day (1 November), All Soul's Day (2 November) and Christmas.

News
News from Haiti is available from Newslink.

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