Country - Haiti
Haiti Country Information
Haiti is a semi-presidential republic sharing the western border of Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Sea. Haiti forms a part of the archipelago “Greater Antilles”. The country shares the landmass of the single island Hispaniola along with Dominican Republic in the ratio of 3:5. The population of Haiti was estimated at 10.8 million as per census of 2017 making it the second largest populous country in the Caribbean, following closely on the heels of Cuba.
French is the official language of Haiti along with Haitian Creole. Haiti is one of the two nations in Americas to have declared French as the official language, the other one being Canada. The estimates of 2010 reveal that the major religion in the country is Christianity with 56.8% of population as Catholics, 29.6% as Protestants, 3% as other minority religions like Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Bahai Faith and the remaining declaring themselves as non-followers of any religion.
Port-au-Prince is the capital and the largest city of Haiti. The strategic location of the capital city at the Gulf of Gonave serves as the bay and a natural harbour to handle commercial shipments effectively. Exports of coffee, sugar, baseballs, shoes, textiles, garments are the regular items of bulk freightage/logistics at the seaport. The major items imported by Haiti include rice, cotton fabric, cane sugar, wheat, iron, steel, chicken, fuel and vehicles from USA, China, Netherlands, Dominican Republic, Antilles.
The economy of Haiti is of agrarian nature. More than 50% of world’s production of vetiver oil used as a key component in high-end perfumes is contributed by Haiti. The horticultural produce for exports includes bananas, pineapples and mangoes from Haiti.
Tourists to Haiti have a plenty of sightseeing destinations to visit on a longer schedule. The iconic symbol of Haiti is the Citadelle La Ferriere is a pre-20th century fortress which seems to occupy the entire apex of the steep mountain. The castle was used as a military, strategic, defensive and colossal hedge to fight against enemies. The fort was spacious enough to accommodate living quarters, cisterns and storage space for as many as 5000 defending soldiers in a year. The sole accessibility to the building is through steep spiralling narrow paths which make it difficult for intruders to think of reaching the castle by other means. The verticality of the external walls with absolutely no props to climb makes it totally impracticable to scale the rampart by potential invaders who would, on committing a slight error in hiking, plunge into abysmal depths of valley surrounding it and meet untraceable death.
The Saut-d’Eau waterfalls is not only attractive to nature lovers but has mysterious implications for certain category of worshippers of Virgin Mary of Mount Caramel and her sorcerer counterpart Erzulie for healing in an annual pilgrimage.
Places for black magic, witchcraft and sorcery are common in Haiti. The Jubilee Voodoo Monument, as the name itself suggests, is eerily spooky. The monument is in the shape of a partly stooped vertical pillar, as the main body of a cross. The top portion of the cross was said to be destroyed by an electrostatic lightning which is seen by some as the God’s acknowledgement of their prayers to offer the hill to Him as a token of propitiation. The apical part of the cross was believed to have fallen into the valley after being hit by the lightning. Today, the pilgrim spot is used for offering sacrifices and the surroundings are strewn with burnt rocks, charred pebbles and thorny cacti.
The five Forts of Dessalines are the strongest reminder of the intrepid anti-slavery rebellion led by Jean-Jaques Dessalines who had been a slave himself. His adamant persistence to fight against foreign French rule and unshakable determination to emancipate his fellow-beings numbering about 1300 have taken the shape of the five forts eponymous of the leader. At a place called Crete-a-Pierrot, Dessalines instilled unflinching resoluteness in every drop of blood in each soldier of his battalion and fought a fierce battle with 18000-strong French troops and achieved a triumphant expulsion of foreign forces and seized undeniable independence. Eventually, Dessalines became the emperor of the free Haiti marking the unforgettable end of the cruel slavery. Out of the five forts in the town of Dessalines, the top most castle labelled “The End of the World” on the hill is the proud reminiscent of the valiant leader. The fort “Innocent” which was placed a little below of the main castle is named after his first son. The third fort “Madame Ti” which was the palace of the Empress was guarded by the fort Doco. The fifth castle “Flipped” is not today in full shape and its remnant ruins are used as a site for voodoo worships.
The palace of Henri Christophe, known as “Sans Souci Palace”, is a spacious extensive monument and a bitter reminder of the corrupt ex-slave ruler of Haiti. In the capital city Port-au-Prince, a ghostly museum called “Atis Rezistans” is meant to depict modern contemporary art by fusing human bones with scrap metal structures. The site looks like a real abode of blood-thirsty devils and stands out contradictorily from the traditional eye-pleasing ateliers.
The Fort Dimanche, also in the capital city, was once the hellish centre of torture by the demonic President Francois Duvalier who jam-packed/stuffed his political opponents into twelve square foot cages and subjected them to excruciating torment till their death. From the image as a grave reminder of the unspeakable trauma, the fort today wears innocent look and is used a vending place for selling hard-clay articles by local artisans.
This is not to mean the country is full of haunting places alone. In addition, Haiti has many tourist-friendly restaurants, hotels, tiny islands like Ile-a-rat to amuse the visitors. The annual carnival celebrations in Jacmel attract thousands of tourists when the entire city becomes a mega stage of colourful dances accompanied by drum-beats. Tourists from different nations intently wait for the big event and swarm the streets for participating in the celebrations with full vim and vigour.