Why is Haiti so poor? Read article to find out

WHY IS HAITI SO POOR? Do you know? If not continue reading.


Located in the Caribbean, Haiti occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola, with the Dominican Republic in the eastern two-thirds. With an area of about 10,714 square miles, Haiti is approximately the size of the state of Maryland. The major cities are: Cap-Haïtien, Jérémie, Les Cayes, Hinche, Gonaïves, and Jacmel. Haiti has two official languages: Haitian Creole and French.

When Columbus landed in the island of Hispaniola on December 6, 1492, he found a kingdom ruled by a cacique, or Taino Indian chief. After the French arrived in the seventeenth century to continue European exploration and exploitation in the Western Hemisphere, the indigenous population was largely exterminated. As a result, Africans (primarily from West Africa) were imported as slave labor to produce raw goods for international commerce. Considered France’s richest colony in the eighteenth century, Haiti was known as “the pearl of the Antilles.” Resisting their exploitation, Haitians revolted against the French from 1791-1804. One of the most important outcomes of this revolution was that it forced Napoleon Bonaparte to sell Louisiana to the U.S. in 1803, resulting in a major territorial expansion of the United States. When Haitians took their independence in 1804, they changed their colonial name from Saint Domingue (the name given by the French) to its Taino name of Haiti, or Ayiti in Kreyòl.

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The large island in the western Atlantic of which the present-day Republic of Haiti occupies the western part, was discovered by Christopher Columbus in December 1492. The native Taino people knew it as Ayiti, but Christopher Columbus claimed it for the Spanish crown and named it La Isla Española.


• Haiti was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus in 1492.
• Haiti is the most mountainous country in the Caribbean.
• Haiti was the first country in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery.
• Voodoo is an officially recognized religion in Haiti.
• Haiti has the world’s largest solar powered hospital.
• Haiti has the world’s largest solar powered hospital
• Haiti has surviving cave paintings
• Grammy Winner, Wyclef Jean is a Haiti national
• French and Creole are the official languages in Haiti
• Cock fighting is an official sport in Haiti
• The largest mountaintop fortress in the Western Hemisphere is in Haiti
• In Haiti, only one partner needs to be present for a divorce to take place
• Gourde, Haiti’s currency is named after a plant called Gourd
• Haiti has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the Caribbean
• Tourism is one of the largest industries in Haiti

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However, the roots of today’s development woes and political crises go back much further than the 2010 earthquake. A multitude of forces have contributed to Haiti’s current economic and political situation.

POLITICAL HISTORY OF EXPLOITATIVE REGIMES: Colonial Haiti under French rule was one of the most unequal societies on earth. Its economy relied heavily upon the island’s sugar plantations, which were highly labor-intensive. A majority of the indigenous population endured great physical hardship, harvesting the crop to benefit a small colonial minority. As the local population was killed off by harsh working conditions imposed by the colonists, the French became increasingly dependent on slave labor imported through the Atlantic slave trade. By 1789 the slave population outnumbered the free population 4 to 1, with 452,000 slaves in a total population of 520,000.

INTERNATIONAL MEDDLING: In addition to the obvious negative effects of colonialism, foreign powers have continued to play a negative role in Haiti’s development since independence. For example, even after France left the country in 1804, it required that Haiti pay it back for the loss of its former slaves. It was not until 1947 that this “debt” was fully repaid. This initial burden to the young, newly independent state led to a significant foundational disadvantage.

MISHANDLING OF EARTHQUAKE: After the 2010 earthquake the international humanitarian community promised $9 billion USD to “Build Back Better”. The idea was to use the opportunity of the earthquake’s destruction to create a stronger infrastructure and a more productive economy. Though progress has been made, it has been nowhere near what was promised.

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS: Starting under French colonial rule, the Haitian economy has often been driven forward at the expense of the environment. From sugar cane plantations to the giant textile factories of today, Haiti’s environment has been sacrificed in the pursuit of production. This degradation has put Haiti at higher risk of natural disasters like flooding. Intense deforestation (only 3% of forest cover remains naturally in Haiti) and the loss of absorptive topsoil has left Haiti ever more vulnerable to the elements; which, considering its location in a hurricane corridor and on a major fault line between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates, makes this process especially dire

RELIGION: As well as arguing why Haiti is so poor, I address a factor which is often claimed to be a cause of Haitian poverty. This factir I will call MYTH. The contention that the Voodoo religion is a serious factor in causing the misery of Haiti is a myth, and an exceptionally pernicious myth at that.

POST WORLD WAR II UNITED STATES DOMINATION: The occupation ended in 1934. However, the U.S. presence in both the economy and internal government affairs was well established. Ever since the occupation and increasingly since 1946, the United States, through the power of its aid packages, has played a central role in Haitian politics. In this way the U.S. has contributed to the misery of Haiti since it has given oppressive governments comfortable aid packages which kept these rulers in power. The United States was not interested in furthering Haitian misery itself, rather this is the price the U.S. has had to pay to keep friendly governments in power so that American military, propaganda and economic interests could be served. The result may well have served the interests of U.S. control in the region, but the issue here is the cause of Haitian misery. U.S. backed governments have certainly been a major factor in this suffering.


At this point, I believe if you are asked why is Haiti so poor, you have some points to give!!!