Haiti is situated east of Cuba on the island of Hispaniola, located in the Caribbean’s Greater Antilles archipelago. It is roughly 10,714 square miles in size and shares the island with the Dominican Republic, taking up the western three-eighths of the island. With an estimated 10.8 million people, Haiti is the second-most populous country in the Caribbean.
Haiti is a founding member of the United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Association of Caribbean States, and the International Francophonie Organisation, as well as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). It also retains membership of the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. Haiti has the lowest Human Development Index in the Americas, and in 2004, a coup d'état forced the resignation and exile of its president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, after which a temporary government took control of the country.
The Haitian Government
Haiti is built upon a semi-presidential republic. Legislative power in Haiti is entrusted to both the government and the two chambers of its National Assembly. The central government of Haiti delegates powers to the various departments associated with it without a need for consent dictated by the constitution. The Constitution of Haiti on 29 March 1987 established its current political system.
The Haitian government features a multiparty system in which the President of Haiti is head of state and is elected directly by popular elections; the Prime Minister, appointed by the president, is the head of the government and is selected from the majority party in the National Assembly. Executive power is vested in the President and the Prime Minister, who constitute the government.
Haiti is divided into ten administrative departments, which include Nord-Ouest (Port-de-Paix), Nord (Cap-Haïtien), Nord-Est (Fort-Liberté), Artibonite (Gonaïves), Centre (Hinche), Ouest (Port-au-Prince), Grand'Anse (Jérémie), Nippes (Miragoâne), Sud (Les Cayes), and Sud-Est (Jacmel). The departments are themselves split into 42 arrondissements, 145 communes and 571 communal sections, which serve as, second and third level administrative divisions in the country.
Since becoming independent, 32 coups have occurred in Haiti – it is the only country in the Western Hemisphere to experience a slave revolution, but nevertheless, it has a long history of oppression by dictators, including François Duvalier and Jean-Claude Duvalier. Various countries, including France and the United States have been forced to repeatedly step in to the midst of Haitian politics in attempts to restore order.
Haiti has accumulated vast amounts of foreign debt that have come to rival the government budget for social sector spending. Multiple countries, as well as international financial institutions, are owed huge quantities of money by Haiti. Many institutions have been criticised for imposing crippling trade policies on Haiti, which detrimentally impact the country’s industry and, consequently, its people.
Haiti ranked first in a list of countries surveyed for perceived domestic corruption in a 2006 survey, with the Red Cross reporting that seven out of ten Haitians live on less than $2 a day. The United Nations have dubbed the commune of Cité Soleil in Port-au-Prince "the most dangerous place on Earth" – it is one of the largest slums in the Northern Hemisphere, with many of its residents supporting former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who finally returned to Haiti on 18 March 2011, seven years after his 2004 exile.
The Provisional Electoral Council of Haiti announced on 4 April 2011 that Michel Martelly had won its presidential election. In the wake of its October 2015 elections, interim President Joceleme Privert announced that the results were fraudulent after the winner (Jovenel Moïse) was revealed to have been hand-picked by former President Michel Martelly. A month-long examination in 2016 recommended completely redoing the vote after auditing 13,000 ballots randomly.
Haiti is a popular tourist destination, and the Institute for the Protection of National Heritage has moved to preserve 33 historical monuments and the historic center of Cap-Haïtien. In spite of this, Haiti remains one of the world's poorest countries and is the poorest in the Americas region, with poverty, corruption, poor infrastructure, and lack of health care cited as main causes. Haiti was ranked 145 of 182 countries in the 2010 United Nations Human Development Index – 57.3% of the population were recorded as being deprived.