Cruising in Haiti

Background

The native Arawak Amerindians - who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by Columbus in 1492 - were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola, and in 1697, Spain ceded to the French the western third of the island, which later became Haiti. The French colony, based on forestry and sugar-related industries, became one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean, but only through the heavy importation of African slaves and considerable environmental degradation.

In the late 18th century, Haiti's nearly half million slaves revolted under Toussaint L'OUVERTURE. After a prolonged struggle, Haiti became the first black republic to declare its independence in 1804. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been plagued by political violence for most of its history. After an armed rebellion led to the departure of President Jean-Betrand ARISTIDE in February 2004, an interim government took office to organize new elections under the auspices of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Continued violence and technical delays have prompted repeated postponements, and Haiti missed the constitutionally-mandated presidential inauguration date of 7 February 2006.

Geography

Location: Caribbean, western one-third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic
Geographic coordinates: 19 00 N, 72 25 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 27,750 sq km
Land: 27,560 sq km
Water: 190 sq km
Border countries: Dominican Republic 360 km

Coastline

1,771 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: to depth of exploitation

Climate

Tropical; semiarid where mountains in east cut off trade winds

Terrain

Mostly rough and mountainous

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
Highest point: Chaine de la Selle 2,680 m

Economy

In this poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, 80% of the population lives in abject poverty. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agriculture sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, exacerbated by the country's widespread deforestation. The economy grew 1.5% in 2005, the highest growth rate since 1999.

Haiti suffers from rampant inflation, a lack of investment, and a severe trade deficit. In early 2005, Haiti paid its arrears to the World Bank, paving the way for reengagement with the Bank. The government is reliant on formal international economic assistance for fiscal sustainability. Remittances are the primary source of foreign exchange, equaling nearly a quarter of GDP in 2005.

Transportation

Airports: 12 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2005)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 7 (2005)
Roadways: total: 4,160 km
paved: 1,011 km
unpaved: 3,149 km (1999)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Cap-Haitien   

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Anguilla - Antigua and Barbuda - Aruba - Bahamas - Barbados - British Virgin Islands - Cayman Islands - Cuba - Dominica - Dominican Republic - Grenada - Guadeloupe - Haiti - Jamaica - St. Kitts and Nevis - St. Lucia - Martinique - Montserrat - Netherlands Antilles - Puerto Rico - Trinidad and Tobago - Turks and Caicos - St. Vincent and the Grenadines - Virgin Islands (USA)

Further Reading

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