Facts about Haiti

CNN

Posted at Jan 13 2010 04:23 PM | Updated as of Jan 14 2010 04:39 AM

ATLANTA, United States -- A major earthquake struck southern Haiti on Tuesday, inflicting a catastrophe on the impoverished Caribbean nation. Here are some facts about Haiti:

• The country of Haiti makes up the western one-third of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean. Hispanola is located between Cuba and Puerto Rico and the eastern two thirds of the island is the Dominican Republic.

• The capital of Haiti is Port-au-Prince.

• Haiti is one of poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. 80% of residents live in poverty. (CIA)

• Haiti is one of the most densely populated and least developed countries in the western hemisphere.

About Haiti: (from the CIA Factbook)

• Population: 9,035,536

• Capital: Port-au-Prince

• Ethnic Groups: 95% black

• Religion: Roman Catholic -- 80%

• GDP: $11.53 billion (2008 est.)

• Language: French (official)

• Leaders: Jean-Max Bellerive -- prime minister

• Rene Preval - president

Chronology (selected timeline)

• 1492 - Christopher Columbus lands and names the island Hispaniola

• 1697 - The Spanish recognized the French's control of the western third of the island; they named it Saint Domingue

• 1791 - The slaves rebelled against the plantation owners; Toussaint L'Ouverture, a former slave, took control and wrote a constitution

• 1799 - Napoleon I sent an army to restore French rule

• 1803 - the French army lost

• January 1, 1804 - gained independence from France; Haiti is the second oldest independent nation in the western hemisphere after the U.S.

• 1804-1915 - Over 70 different dictators ruled Haiti

• 1915 - U.S. President Woodrow Wilson sends Marines to Haiti to restore order

• 1915-1934 - United States occupies Haiti

• 1946 - Army officers take control of Haiti's government

• 1949 - Army officers take control of the government again after rioting breaks out

• 1950 - Army officer Paul Magloire is elected president

• 1956 - Magloire resigns after rioting breaks out; the army takes control of the government again

• 1957 - Francois Duvalier, a doctor, is elected president

• 1964 - Duvalier declares himself president for life and rules as a dictator

• 1971 - Haiti's constitution is amended to allow the president to choose his successor; Duvalier chooses his son, Jean-Claude, who is 19-years-old

• April 1971 - Duvalier dies and Jean-Claude declares himself president for life; he uses a secret police force called Tontons Macoutes (bogeymen) to enforce his policies

• 1986 - There is a revolt against Jean-Claude Duvalier and he flees the country; Lieutenant General Henri Namphy runs the country and tries to get rid of the Tontons Macoutes but fails.

• March 1987 - a new constitution that calls for presidential and national assembly elections by the people is adopted

• November 29, 1987 - elections are supposed to be held but terrorist attacks on polling places leads to the cancellation of the election

• January 1988 - the elections are held; the people elect a civilian president and a parliament

• June 1988 - Namphy overthrows the new government and declares himself the president of the military government

• September 1988 - officers of the Presidential Guard seize power from Namphy; Lieutenant General Prosper Avril declares himself president

• March 1990 - Avril resigns due to protests

• December 1990 - Jean-Bertrand Aristide wins Haiti's first free election.

• September 1991 - Aristide is ousted in a military coup; he flees the country; the Organization of American States and the United Nations led trade boycotts to try to force Aristide's return to power; many Haitians tried to flee to the U.S. but were forced back to Haiti, later the refugees were sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

• July 3, 1993 - The military government agrees to allow Aristide to return and restore his government by October 30; they later back out of the agreement and do not allow Aristide to return

• September 17, 1994 - President Clinton sends a delegation to Haiti in hopes of avoiding a military conflict. Sent are former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Colin L. Powell, and Senator Sam Nunn. This peace deal does prevent an outbreak of fighting.

• September 18, 1994 - U.S. begins sending troops to Haiti to maintain order. The first 3,000 troops land on Sept. 19 in Port au Prince and were from the Army's 10th Mountain Division, based in Fort Drum, New York.

• October 1994 - Aristide is restored to power; U.S. troops stay in Haiti to maintain order; the UN and OAS boycotts end; the refugees at Guantanamo Bay return to Haiti

• March 1995 - most U.S. troops leave Haiti

• Late 1995 - Rene Preval, a member of Aristide's Lavalas coalition, is elected president

• April 1996 - the last of the U.S. troops leave Haiti

• December 1998 - the UN peacekeepers withdraw from Haiti

• November 2000 - Aristide is elected president again; most other parties boycotted these elections and claimed they are fraudulent

• January 2004 - the terms of most members of Haiti's parliament have ended and no new legislative elections have been held.

• February 2004 - Rebels and political opposition leaders are opposed to Aristide's leadership and methods and want him to be removed from power. Aristide says he will remain in office until the last day of his term, February 7, 2006.

• February 5, 2004 - Rebels (Members of the Gonaives Resistance Front ) seize the northern city of Gonaives and kill four people.

• February 8, 2004 - Looting and violence spread throughout Haiti.

• February 10, 2004 - The death toll from the uprising hits 42. The looting and violence creates a severe humanitarian aid crisis.

• February 17, 2004 - The death toll from the uprising hits 50. The rebels control most of the country north of the capitol of Port au Prince.

• February 21, 2004 - An International assessment team made up of Officials from the United States, France, Canada, Caricom (the Caribbean Community) and the Organization of American States arrive in Haiti to present Aristide with a peace plan. He accepts the terms of the plan, which include the appointment of a new Prime Minister, the establishment of a bipartisan Cabinet, the holding of new elections to be overseen by international observers and the disarmament of militias, stationed in much of the North. The opposition leaders state they reject any plan that does not include the immediate resignation of Aristide.

• February 22, 2004 - Rebels attack a police headquarters in Port au Prince and release many prisoners.

• February 23, 2004 - 50 US Marines arrive in Haiti to protect the US embassy and American personnel working there.

• February 24, 2004 - Reverend Al Sharpton, US presidential candidate, states that both Aristide and the political opposition leaders approved his suggestion to travel to Haiti to broker a peace agreement, after the former U.S. backed peace plan was rejected by the opposition leaders.

• February 25, 2004 - President Bush states that any Haitians attempting to enter the US will be turned back by the Coast Guard, and urges the U.N. to compile an international security presence there.

• February 26, 2004 - The UN holds an emergency session on the crisis.

• February 28, 2004 - Secretary of State Colin Powell urges Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to step down, according to senior State Department officials. Aristide reaffirms his stance on his position; he will not leave until his term expires in 2006.

• February 29, 2004 - President Aristide leaves the country. Aristide and his wife arrive in the Central African Republic. Supreme Court Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre replaces him as the nation's president in a transitional government, as mandated by Haiti's constitution.

• February 29, 2004 - About 100 US Marines land in Haiti, to begin peacekeeping operations as part of a multi-national force.

• March 1, 2004 - More than 200 US Marines are deployed so far and the first contingent of 50 French forces arrives in Haiti. Eighty more French troops are on the way and 150 more French troops will come in the next few days from Martinique.

• March 2, 2004 - Haitian rebel leader Guy Philippe declares himself the country's new police chief and calls for the re-establishment of Haiti's army, which Aristide disbanded in 1991. The U.S. is not recognizing Philippe as the head of the Haitian police.

• March 3, 2004 - Guy Phillipe states that his rebel forces would lay down their arms and Prime Minister Yvon Neptune declares a state of emergency in Haiti. 500 US Marines are stationed around the capital, Port au Prince.

• March 7, 2004 - Five people are killed during a march through Port au Prince to the Presidential palace. Witnesses said they were shot by pro Aristide gunmen. Killed were four Haitians and a journalist from Spain.

• March 9, 2004 - Gerard Latortue, a 69-year-old international business consultant, is named the new prime minister of Haiti by the U.S.-backed Council of Sages.

• March 10, 2004 - Latortue says that the nation's army was disbanded unconstitutionally by now-exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and he will appoint a commission to examine its re-establishment. The Haitian-born Latortue returned to Haiti from his home in Florida after a U.S.-backed "Council of Sages" chose him to replace Aristide's prime minister, Yvon Neptune.

• March 15, 2004 - Aristide leaves the Central African Republic, expected in Jamaica later in the day.

• April 2004 - The UN Secretary-General recommends the creation of a multidimensional stabilization operation to assist with the situation in Haiti. The operation is called the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)

• June 2004 - A US-led multinational force turns over authority in Port-au-Prince to UN Peacekeepers.

• November 2004 - The UN Security Council extends the mandate of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to May 31, 2005.

• June 2005 - The UN Security Council extends the mandate of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to February 15, 2006.

• February 7, 2006 - After multiple election scheduling delays and allegations of election fraud, Rene Preval is elected president of Haiti.

• February 14, 2006 - The UN Security Council extends the mandate of United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) to August 15, 2006.

• August 15, 2006 - The UN Security Council extends the mandate of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) until February 15, 2007.

• February 2007 - President Preval has the force of 8,000 UN Peacekeepers in Haiti begin an offensive against the street gangs in Port-au-Prince.

• July 2009 - Dozens go missing, and at least 15 are killed after a boat carrying more than 200 capsizes near the Turks and Caicos Islands.

• January 12, 2010 - A 7.0 magnitude earthquake strikes 14 miles west of Port-au-Prince.

Haiti - Government

• A president serves as Haiti's head of state

• The people elect the president to a five-year term

• The president appoints a prime minister to serve as head of the government

• A parliament called the National Assembly makes the country's laws

• The upper house, called the Senate, has 27 members, elected by the people to six-year terms

• The lower house, called the Chamber of Deputies, has 83 members, elected to four-year terms

Haiti - Geography

• Haiti is a country in the West Indies

• It covers the western third of the island of Hispaniola, which lies between Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea

• The Dominican Republic covers eastern Hispaniola

• Most of Haiti is mountainous, and the country's name comes from an Indian word that means high ground.

Sources: CNN.com; World Book Online