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About Haiti

Haiti occupies the western half of the island of Hispaniola next to the Dominican Republic. Haiti means “land of mountains” in the language of the Arawaks, the original inhabitants of the island and lives true to its name, being home to some of the highest peaks in the Caribbean. The country has a rich history which belies its modern day associations with extreme poverty and political strife. It was once the most important colony of the French colonial empire. And its founders led a slave revolt which created the second independent nation in the Americas and the first free black republic at the height of the transatlantic slave trade.

Despite its epic past, Haiti for the last three decades has almost only been associated with political strife, a dictatorship, and extreme poverty even considered by some to be a pariah in the resort laden Caribbean. In 2010, however, attention once again focused on Haiti after a devastating magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the tiny nation of roughly nine million and claimed over 200,000 lives. This unimaginable event forced the world to take a second look at Haiti and precipitated a massive international relief effort.

Haiti now also faces a pressing environmental problem which threatens its recovery and its long-term future. Only 3% of its forests remain. Though there are many factors contributing to the environmental degradation, lack of investment and poverty in the country side stand out. Most Haitians, nearly 60%, still live there and depend on the resources of the countryside for income and even identity.

Despite its problems, Haiti is renowned for its art, music, and vibrant culture; and has never stopped mesmerizing visitors with its misty mountains and interesting microclimates. A push for tourism dollars is a major part of the country's recovery plan, and has opened the door for a number of offerings including: scuba diving, para-gliding, and surfing.
Haiti has faced many challenges before, but the resiliency of its people have remained steadfast. With more measured approaches that are inclusive, creative, and allow for the sustainable use of resources, Haiti can thrive in its community of nations and may even become an example.

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