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Haiti earthquake

Magnitude 7.0 - HAITI REGION

2010 January 12 21:53:10 UTC

Earthquake Summary

Severe damage and casualties in the Port-au-Prince area. Felt throughout Haiti and the Dominican Republic, in Turks and Caicos Islands, southeastern Cuba, eastern Jamaica, in parts of Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, and as far as Tampa, Florida and Caracas, Venezuela.

Major Tectonic Boundaries: Subduction Zones -purple, Ridges -red and Transform Faults -green

Tectonic Summary

The January 12, 2010, Haiti earthquake occurred in the boundary region separating the Caribbean plate and the North America plate. This plate boundary is dominated by left-lateral strike slip motion and compression, and accommodates about 20 mm/y slip, with the Caribbean plate moving eastward with respect to the North America plate.

Haiti occupies the western part of the island of Hispaniola, one of the Greater Antilles islands, situated between Puerto Rico and Cuba. At the longitude of the January 12 earthquake, motion between the Caribbean and North American plates is partitioned between two major east-west trending, strike-slip fault systems -- the Septentrional fault system in northern Haiti and the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system in southern Haiti.

The location and focal mechanism of the earthquake are consistent with the event having occurred as left-lateral strike slip faulting on the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system. This fault system accommodates about 7 mm/y, nearly half the overall motion between the Caribbean plate and North America plate.

The Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault system has not produced a major earthquake in recent decades. The EPGFZ is the likely source of historical large earthquakes in 1860, 1770, and 1751, though none of these has been confirmed in the field as associated with this fault.

Sequence of events possibly associated with the Enriquillio fault in 1751-1860 are as follows.

October 18, 1751: a major earthquake caused heavy destruction in the gulf of Azua (the eastern end of the Enriquillio Fault) which also generated a tsunami. It is unclear if the rupture occurred on the Muertos thrust belt or on the eastern end of Enriquillio Fault.

Nov. 21, 1751: a major earthquake destroyed Port Au Prince but was centered to the east of the city along the Cul de-Sac plain.

June 3, 1770: a major earthquake destroyed Port Au Prince again and appeared to be centered west of the city. As a result of the 1751 and 1770 earthquakes and minor ones in between, the authorities required building with wood and forbade building with masonry.

April 8, 1860: there was a major earthquake farther west accompanied by a tsunami


Quick Facts and Figures

Official Name Republic of Haiti

arrow Population 8,490,200

arrow Capital City Port-au-Prince 

arrow Languages French (official), French Creole (official)

arrow Official Currency Gourde

arrow Religions Catholic (80%), others

arrow Latitude/Longitude 18º 54N, 72º 34W

arrow Land Area 27,400 sq km (10,569 sq miles)

President of Haiti René Garcia Préval


The island of Hispaniola is the second largest island in the Caribbean, at 29,273 sq miles, (75,843 sq km). Haiti occupies about 1/3 of the island, while the Dominican Republic controls the balance of land.

Details The island of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean, contains two separate countries; the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Columbus claimed Hispaniola in 1492, and it later became the major launching base for the Spanish conquest of the Caribbean, as well as the American mainland. Subsequently, disease and slavery were introduced by the Spanish conquistadors, and the indigenous  peoples were destroyed.

Credit: http://www.worldatlas.com

The native Taino 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. 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 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 forced resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand 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 prompted repeated postponements, but Haiti finally did inaugurate a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006.

Geography ::Haiti 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 country comparison to the world: 147 land: 27,560 sq km water: 190 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Maryland

Land boundaries: total: 360 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

Natural resources: bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble, hydropower

Land use: arable land: 28.11% permanent crops: 11.53% other: 60.36% (2005)

Irrigated land: 920 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources: 14 cu km (2000)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 0.99 cu km/yr (5%/1%/94%) per capita: 116 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards: lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding and earthquakes; periodic droughts

Environment - current issues: extensive deforestation (much of the remaining forested land is being cleared for agriculture and used as fuel); soil erosion; inadequate supplies of potable water

Environment - international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes

Geography - note: shares island of Hispaniola with Dominican Republic (western one-third is Haiti, eastern two-thirds is the Dominican Republic)

People ::Haiti Population: 9,035,536 country comparison to the world: 88 note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2009 est.)

Age structure: 0-14 years: 38.1% (male 1,735,917/female 1,704,383) 15-64 years: 58.5% (male 2,621,059/female 2,665,447) 65 years and over: 3.4% (male 120,040/female 188,690) (2009 est.)

Median age: total: 20.2 years male: 19.8 years female: 20.7 years (2009 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.838% (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 70

Birth rate: 29.1 births/1,000 population (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 50

Death rate: 8.65 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 88

Net migration rate: -2.07 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 138

Urbanization: urban population: 47% of total population (2008) rate of urbanization: 4.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2009 est.)

Infant mortality rate: total: 59.69 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 37 male: 66.18 deaths/1,000 live births female: 53.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth: total population: 60.78 years country comparison to the world: 181 male: 59.13 years female: 62.48 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.81 children born/woman (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 50

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 2.2% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 28

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 120,000 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 43

HIV/AIDS - deaths: 7,200 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 38

Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: high food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)

Nationality: noun: Haitian(s) adjective: Haitian

Ethnic groups: black 95%, mulatto and white 5%

Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%), none 1%, other 3% note: roughly half of the population practices voodoo

Languages: French (official), Creole (official)

Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 52.9% male: 54.8% female: 51.2% (2003 est.)

Education expenditures: 1.4% of GDP (1991) country comparison to the world: 175

Government ::Haiti Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Haiti conventional short form: Haiti local long form: Republique d'Haiti/Repiblik d' Ayiti local short form: Haiti/Ayiti

Government type: republic

Capital: name: Port-au-Prince geographic coordinates: 18 32 N, 72 20 W time difference: UTC-5 (same time as Washington, DC during Standard Time) daylight saving time: +1hr, begins first Sunday in April; ends last Sunday in October

Administrative divisions: 10 departments (departements, singular - departement); Artibonite, Centre, Grand 'Anse, Nippes, Nord, Nord-Est, Nord-Ouest, Ouest, Sud, Sud-Est

Independence: 1 January 1804 (from France)

National holiday: Independence Day, 1 January (1804)

Constitution: approved March 1987 note: suspended June 1988 with most articles reinstated March 1989; constitutional government ousted in a military coup in September 1991, although in October 1991 military government claimed to be observing the constitution; returned to constitutional rule in October 1994; constitution, while technically in force between 2004-2006, was not enforced; returned to constitutional rule in May 2006

Legal system: based on Roman civil law system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch: chief of state: President Rene PREVAL (since 14 May 2006) head of government: Prime Minister Jean-Max BELLERIVE (since 7 November 2009) cabinet: Cabinet chosen by the prime minister in consultation with the president elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (may not serve consecutive terms); election last held 7 February 2006 (next to be held in 2011); prime minister appointed by the president, ratified by the National Assembly election results: Rene PREVAL elected president; percent of vote - Rene PREVAL 51%

Legislative branch: bicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale consists of the Senate (30 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms; one-third elected every two years) and the Chamber of Deputies (99 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms); note - in reestablishing the Senate, the candidate in each department receiving the most votes in the last election serves six years, the candidate with the second most votes serves four years, and the candidate with the third most votes serves two years elections: Senate - last held 21 April 2006 with run-off elections on 3 December 2006 (next regular election, for one third of seats, to be held in 2008); Chamber of Deputies - last held 21 April 2006 with run-off elections on 3 December 2006 and 29 April 2007 (next regular election to be held in 2010) election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - L'ESPWA 11, FUSION 5, OPL 4, FL 3, LAAA 2, UNCRH 2, PONT 2, ALYANS 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - L'ESPWA 23, FUSION 17, FRN 12, OPL 10, ALYANS 10, LAAA 5, MPH 3, MOCHRENA 3, other 10; results for six other seats contested on 3 December 2006 remain unknown

Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Cour de Cassation

Political parties and leaders: Artibonite in Action or LAAA [Youri LATORTUE]; Assembly of Progressive National Democrats or RDNP [Leslie MANIGAT]; Convention for Democratic Unity or KID [Evans PAUL]; Cooperative Action to Build Haiti or KONBA [Evans LESCOUFALIR]; Democratic Alliance or ALYANS [Evans PAUL] (coalition composed of KID and PPRH); Effort and Solidarity to Create an Alternative for the People or ESKAMP [Joseph JASME]; For Us All or PONT [Jean-Marie CHERESTAL]; Front for Hope or L'ESPWA [Rene PREVAL] (alliance of ESKAMP, PLB, and grass-roots organizations Grand-Anse Resistance Committee, the Central Plateau Peasants' Group, and Kombit Sudest); Haitian Christian Democratic Party or PDCH [Osner FEVRY and Marie-Denise CLAUDE]; Haitian Democratic and Reform Movement or MODEREH [Dany TOUSSAINT and Pierre Soncon PRINCE]; Heads Together or Tet-Ansanm [Dr. Gerard BLOT]; Independent Movement for National Reconciliation or MIRN [Luc FLEURINORD]; Justice for Peace and National Development or JPDN [Rigaud DUPLAN]; Fanmi Lavalas or FL [Rudy HERIVEAUX]; Liberal Party of Haiti or PLH [Gehy MICHEL]; Merging of Haitian Social Democratic Parties or FUSION or FPSDH [Serge GILLES] (coalition of Ayiti Capable, Haitian National Revolutionary Party, and National Congress of Democratic Movements); Mobilization for Haiti's Development or MPH [Samir MOURRA]; Mobilization for National Development or MDN [Hubert de RONCERAY]; Movement for National Reconstruction or MRN [Jean Henold BUTEAU]; Movement for the Installation of Democracy in Haiti or MIDH [Marc BAZIN]; National Christian Union for the Reconstruction of Haiti or UNCRH [Marie Claude GERMAIN]; National Front for the Reconstruction of Haiti or FRN [Guy PHILIPPE]; New Christian Movement for a New Haiti or MOCHRENA [Luc MESADIEU]; Open the Gate Party or PLB [Anes LUBIN]; Popular Party for the Renewal of Haiti or PPRH [Claude ROMAIN]; Struggling People's Organization or OPL [Edgard LEBLANC]; Union of Nationalist and Progressive Haitians or UNITE [Edouard FRANCISQUE]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Autonomous Organizations of Haitian Workers or CATH [Fignole ST-CYR]; Confederation of Haitian Workers or CTH; Federation of Workers Trade Unions or FOS; General Organization of Independent Haitian Workers [Patrick NUMAS]; Grand-Anse Resistance Committee, or KOREGA; National Popular Assembly or APN; Papaye Peasants Movement or MPP [Chavannes JEAN-BAPTISTE]; Popular Organizations Gathering Power or PROP; Protestant Federation of Haiti; Roman Catholic Church

International organization participation: ACP, Caricom, CDB, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, MIGA, NAM, OAS, OIF, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, PetroCaribe, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Raymond JOSEPH chancery: 2311 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 telephone: [1] (202) 332-4090 FAX: [1] (202) 745-7215 consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, San Juan (Puerto Rico) consulate(s): Orlando (Florida)

Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Kenneth H. MERTEN embassy: Tabarre 41, Route de Tabarre, Port-au-Prince mailing address: use mailing address telephone: [509] 229-8000 FAX: [509] 229-8028

Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of blue (top) and red with a centered white rectangle bearing the coat of arms, which contains a palm tree flanked by flags and two cannons above a scroll bearing the motto L'UNION FAIT LA FORCE (Union Makes Strength); the colors are taken from the French Tricolor and represent the union of blacks and mulattoes

Economy ::Haiti Economy - overview: Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere with 80% of the population living under the poverty line and 54% in abject poverty. Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly small-scale subsistence farming, and remain vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters, exacerbated by the country's widespread deforestation. While the economy has recovered in recent years, registering positive growth since 2005, four tropical storms in 2008 severely damaged the transportation infrastructure and agricultural sector. US economic engagement under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act, passed in December 2006, has boosted apparel exports and investment by providing tariff-free access to the US. HOPE II, passed in October 2008, has further improved the export environment for the apparel sector by extending preferences to 2018; the apparel sector accounts for two-thirds of Haitian exports and nearly one-tenth of GDP. Remittances are the primary source of foreign exchange, equaling nearly a quarter of GDP and more than twice the earnings from exports. Haiti suffers from high inflation, a lack of investment because of insecurity and limited infrastructure, and a severe trade deficit. In 2005, Haiti paid its arrears to the World Bank, paving the way for reengagement with the Bank. Haiti is expected to receive debt forgiveness for about $525 million of its debt through the Highly-Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative by mid-2009. The government relies on formal international economic assistance for fiscal sustainability.

GDP (purchasing power parity): $11.53 billion (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 145 $11.38 billion (2007 est.) $11 billion (2006 est.) note: data are in 2008 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate): $6.943 billion (2008 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 1.3% (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 168 3.4% (2007 est.) 2.3% (2006 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP): $1,300 (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 203 $1,300 (2007 est.) $1,300 (2006 est.) note: data are in 2008 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 28% industry: 20% services: 52% (2004 est.)

Labor force: 3.643 million country comparison to the world: 92 note: shortage of skilled labor, unskilled labor abundant (2007)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 66% industry: 9% services: 25% (1995)

Unemployment rate: NA% note: widespread unemployment and underemployment; more than two-thirds of the labor force do not have formal jobs

Population below poverty line: 80% (2003 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 0.7% highest 10%: 47.7% (2001)

Distribution of family income - Gini index: 59.2 (2001) country comparison to the world: 8

Investment (gross fixed): 28.9% of GDP (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 26

Budget: revenues: $967.5 million expenditures: $1.162 billion (2008 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 15.5% (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 194 8.5% (2007 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate: 17.81% (31 December 2008) country comparison to the world: 2 46.99% (31 December 2007)

Stock of money: $NA (31 December 2008) $704.7 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of quasi money: $NA (31 December 2008) $1.561 billion (31 December 2007)

Stock of domestic credit: $NA (31 December 2008) $1.537 billion (31 December 2007)

Market value of publicly traded shares: $NA

Agriculture - products: coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, sorghum; wood

Industries: sugar refining, flour milling, textiles, cement, light assembly based on imported parts

Industrial production growth rate: 0% (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 133

Electricity - production: 448 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 161

Electricity - consumption: 273 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 169

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production: 0 bbl/day (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 189

Oil - consumption: 12,000 bbl/day (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 145

Oil - exports: 0 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 196

Oil - imports: 12,280 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 135

Oil - proved reserves: 0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 163

Natural gas - production: 0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 99

Natural gas - consumption: 0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 174

Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2008) country comparison to the world: 69

Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 170

Natural gas - proved reserves: 0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 171

Current account balance: -$611 million (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 108 -$407 million (2007 est.)

Exports: $490 million (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 163 $522 million (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities: apparel, manufactures, oils, cocoa, mangoes, coffee

Exports - partners: US 70.7%, Dominican Republic 8.9%, Canada 3.1% (2008)

Imports: $2.107 billion (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 147 $1.618 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities: food, manufactured goods, machinery and transport equipment, fuels, raw materials

Imports - partners: US 34%, Dominican Republic 23.1%, Netherlands Antilles 10.6%, China 4.5% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $708 million (31 December 2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 134 $555 million (31 December 2007 est.)

Debt - external: $1.817 billion (31 December 2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 138 $1.475 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Exchange rates: gourdes (HTG) per US dollar - 39.216 (2008 est.), 37.138 (2007), 40.232 (2006), 40.449 (2005), 38.352 (2004)

Communications ::Haiti Telephones - main lines in use: 108,000 (2008) country comparison to the world: 142

Telephones - mobile cellular: 3.2 million (2008) country comparison to the world: 105

Telephone system: general assessment: telecommunications infrastructure is among the least developed in Latin America and the Caribbean; domestic facilities barely adequate; international facilities slightly better; mobile-cellular telephone services are expanding rapidly due, in part, to the introduction of low-cost GSM phones in 2006 domestic: coaxial cable and microwave radio relay trunk service international: country code - 509; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 41, FM 26, shortwave 0 (1999)

Television broadcast stations: 2 (plus a cable TV service) (1997)

Internet country code: .ht

Internet hosts: 9 (2009) country comparison to the world: 222

Internet users: 1 million (2008) country comparison to the world: 90

Transportation ::Haiti Airports: 14 (2009) country comparison to the world: 151

Airports - with paved runways: total: 4 2,438 to 3,047 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2009)

Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 10 914 to 1,523 m: 2 under 914 m: 8 (2009)

Roadways: total: 4,160 km country comparison to the world: 155 paved: 1,011 km unpaved: 3,149 km (2000)

Ports and terminals: Cap-Haitien

Military ::Haiti Military branches: no regular military forces - small Coast Guard; the regular Haitian Armed Forces (FAdH) - Army, Navy, and Air Force - have been demobilized but still exist on paper until or unless they are constitutionally abolished (2009)

Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 2,047,083 females age 16-49: 2,047,953 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 1,518,840 females age 16-49: 1,530,043 (2009 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 108,444 female: 106,243 (2009 est.)

Military expenditures: 0.4% of GDP (2006) country comparison to the world: 167

Transnational Issues ::Haiti Disputes - international: since 2004, about 8,000 peacekeepers from the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) maintain civil order in Haiti; despite efforts to control illegal migration, Haitians cross into the Dominican Republic and sail to neighboring countries; Haiti claims US-administered Navassa Island

Illicit drugs: Caribbean transshipment point for cocaine en route to the US and Europe; substantial bulk cash smuggling activity; Colombian narcotics traffickers favor Haiti for illicit financial transactions; pervasive corruption; significant consumer of cannabis.

Flags of Haiti 1697-1986

flagFrom the 1987 Constitution,Article 3:

The emblem of the Haitian Nation shall
be a flag with the following description:

A) Two (2) equal-sized horizontal bands: a blue one on top and a red one underneath;

B) The coat of arms of the Republic shall be placed in the center on a white square;

C) The coat of arms of the Republic are: a Palmette surrounded by the liberty cap, and under the palms a trophy with the legend: In Union there is Strength (L'Union Fait la Force).


flag-1697Since 1697 and the Treaty of Ryswick by which Spain formally recognized French control of the western third of the island, until February 1803, the French flag rules over the French colony of Saint-Domingue. In 1793, Toussaint Louverture, black leader, and precursor to Haiti’s independence, aligns with the French tri-colored flag. In 1801, Louverture is nominated governor of the entire island, and with the Constitution of July 8, 1801 becomes governor for life. In June 1802, Toussaint Louverture is captured by Napoléon Bonaparte and deported to, and jailed in France where he dies.

flag-1803In Petite Rivière de l'Artibonite, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, chief of the black rebels, and Alexandre Pétion, leader of the mulattos, decide in February 1803 to stop fighting alongside the French. During the Arcahaie Congress, Dessalines, on May 18, 1803, removes the white band from the French flag – which was used in Haiti during the French rule, and thereby creates the first Haitian flag, symbol of the alliance of blacks and mulattos in their fight for freedom. Dessalines, who orders that the phrase “Freedom or Death” be inscribed on the flag, is soon nominated General of the Insurrection. A relative of his, Catherine Flon, is entrusted with the task of sewing back together the blue (hoist side) and red bands of fabric to form the new Haitian flag. 

flag-1804On November 18, 1803, French troops capitulate in Vertières; Haiti is independent. On January 1, 1804 the generals of the revolution decide to change the flag so that the bands are now horizontal. This is the first flag of the free and independent republic. This new bi-colored flag is confirmed by article 192 of the Constitution of 1843.


flag-1805On October 8, 1804, Dessalines proclaims himself Emperor and takes the name Jacques I. On May 20, 1805 he adopts a new flag of two vertical bands; one black, for Death, and one red, for Freedom.


flag-1806After the assassination of Dessalines at Pont Rouge on October 17, 1806, the country is divided in two for 14 years; the north ruled by Henri Christophe and the south and west ruled by Alexandre Pétion. Pétion immediately reverts to the blue and red flag of 1804, to which he adds the inscription “L’union fait la force (strength in unity). At the center, the coat of arms of the Republic, adorned with the Phrygian hat (liberty cap), is placed on a white square background. This flag will be hoisted at the National Palace for 158 years, until 1964.


flag-1811On December 27, 1806 General Henri Christophe becomes president and is recognized in the North, North West, and in 1807, Artibonite Departments. On March 28, 1811, he  proclaims himself king and takes the name Henri I (1811-1820). The self-made monarch keeps the colors of the imperial flag of the Kingdom of the North (1805), but changes it slightly; red in the hoist and black in the fly with, at the center, a shield with a phoenix under gold five-pointed stars, all on a blue background; the shield bears a crown and the Latin inscription 'Ex Cineribus Nascitur' (« From the ashes we will arise »). In 1818, Henri and his kingdom are vanquished by Alexandre Pétion’s conquest of the North. Pétion, who had been proclaimed president on March 19, 1807, imposes the horizontal blue and red flag to the North. On October 8, 1920 he is succeeded by Jean-Pierre Boyer who maintains the same flag.  

flag-1822In February 1822, Jean-Pierre Boyer annexes the Spanish part of the island (present day Dominican Republic), which a few months earlier, on November 30, 1821, had proclaimed its independence from Spain under the name of "Republica del Haiti Espanol" (Spanish Republic of Haiti), as well as declared its alliance with Colombia. The flag of the Spanish Republic of Haiti is raised in the early weeks of 1822, but the new Republic will soon be dissolved by Boyer.

flag-1849An attempt to reinstate the black and red flag fails in 1844. In 1847, Faustin Soulouque is elected president, but proclaims himself Emperor under the name Faustin I (1849-1859). The 1849 Constitution keeps the blue and red flag but replaces the coat of arms by the shield. The Empire of Faustin I ends on January 15, 1859 and the coat of arms of the Republic regains its original position at the center of the flag.

flag-1964In 1957, François Duvalier, Papa Doc, is elected president, and in 1960 seizes all powers. In 1963, he establishes a single party system and a new Constitution is adopted on May 25, 1964. The new Constitution returns to the black and red flag, although this time the coat of arms of the Republic remains. This flag becomes official on June 21, 1964. On April 21, 1971 Duvalier dies and is replaced by his son Jean-Claude, who is proclaimed president for life. Following a popular uprising, Jean-Claude is removed from office in February 1986.

flag-1806On February 17, 1986, 10 days after the departure of Jean-Claude Duvalier, the Haitian nation reverts to the blue and red flag, which is ratified a year later by the official adoption of the March 29, 1987 Constitution.


Key Dates in Haiti’s History


Christopher Columbus lands and claims the island of Hispaniola for Spain. The

Spanish build the New World's first settlement at La Navidad on Haiti's north coast.


Spanish control over the colony ends with the Treaty of Ryswick, which divided the

island into French-controlled St. Domingue and Spanish Santo Domingo.

For over 100 years the colony of St. Domingue (known as the Pearl of the Antilles)

was France's most important overseas territory, which supplied it with sugar, rum,

coffee, cotton, indigo, exotic wood and lumber. At the height of slavery, near the end

of the 18th century, some 500,000 people, mainly of western African origin, were

enslaved by the French.


A slave rebellion is launched by the Jamaican-born Boukman leading to a protracted

13-year war of liberation against St. Domingue's colonists and later, Napoleon's

army which was also assisted by Spanish and British forces. The slave armies were

commanded by General Toussaint Louverture who was eventually betrayed by the

French and subsequently exiled to France where he died.


The Haitian blue and red flag is devised at Arcahie, by taking the French tricolor,

turning it in its side and removing the white band. The Battle of Vertières in

November marks the ultimate victory of the former slaves over the French.


The hemispere's second Republic is declared on January 1, 1804 by General Jean-

Jacques Dessalines. Haiti, or Ayiti in Creole, is the name given to the land by the

former Taino-Arawak people, meaning "mountainous country."


Emperor Jean-Jacques Dessalines is assassinated.


Civil war racks the country, which divides into the northern kingdom of Henri

Christophe and the southern republic governed by Alexandre Pétion. Faced with a

rebellion by his own army, Christophe commits suicide, paving the way for Jean-

Pierre Boyer to reunify the country and become President of the entire republic in



President Boyer invades Santo Domingo following its declaration of independence

from Spain. The entire island is now controlled by Haiti until 1844.


France recognizes Haitian independence in exchange for a financial indemnity of 150

million francs. Most nations including the United States shunned Haiti for almost

forty years, fearful that its example could stir unrest there and in other slaveholding

countries. Over the next few decades Haiti is forced to take out loans of 70 million

francs to repay the indemnity and gain international recognition.


The United States finally grants Haiti diplomatic recognition sending noted

abolitionist Frederick Douglass as its Consular Minister.


President Woodrow Wilson orders the U.S. Marines to occupy Haiti and establish

control over customs-houses and port authorities. The Haitian National Guard is

created by the occupying Americans. The Marines force peasants into corvée labor

building roads. Peasant resistance to the occupiers grows under the leadership of

Charlemagne Péralte, who is betrayed and assassinated by Marines in 1919.


The U.S. withdraws from Haiti leaving the Haitian Armed Forces in place throughout

the country.


Thousands of Haitians living near the border of the Dominican Republic are

massacred by Dominican soldiers under the orders of President General Trujillo.


After several attempts to move forward democratically ultimately fail, militarycontrolled

elections lead to victory for Dr. François Duvalier, who in 1964 declares

himself President-for-Life and forms the infamous paramilitary Tonton Makout. The

corrupt Duvalier dictatorship marks one of the saddest chapters in Haitian history

with tens of thousands killed or exiled.


"Papa-Doc" Duvalier dies in office after naming his 19 year-old son Jean-Claude as

his successor.


The first Haitian "boat people" fleeing the country land in Florida.


Widespread protests against repression of the nation's press take place.


"Baby-Doc" Duvalier exploits international assistance and seeks to attract investment

leading to the establishment of textile-based assembly industries. Attempts by

workers and political parties to organize are quickly and regularly crushed.


Hundreds of human rights workers, journalists and lawyers are arrested and exiled

from the country.


International aid agencies declare Haitian pigs to be carriers of African Swine Fever

and institute a program for their slaughter. Attempts to replace indigenous swine

with imported breeds largely fail.


Pope John Paul II visits Haiti and declares publicly that, "Things must change here."


Over 200 peasants are massacred at Jean-Rabel after demonstrating for access to

land. The Haitian Bishops Conference launches a nation-wide (but short-lived)

literacy program. Anti-government riots take place in all major towns.


Massive anti-Government demonstrations continue to take place around the country.

Four schoolchildren are shot dead by soldiers, an event which unifies popular protest

against the régime.


Widespread protests against "Baby Doc" lead the U.S. to arrange for Duvalier and his

family to be exiled to France. Army leader General Henri Namphy heads a new

National Governing Council.


A new Constitution is overwhelmingly approved by the population in March. General

elections in November are aborted hours after they begin with dozens of people shot

by soldiers and the Tonton Makout in the capital and scores more around the



Military controlled elections - widely abstained from - result in the installation of

Leslie Manigat as President in January. Manigat is ousted by General Namphy four

months later and in November General Prosper Avril unseats Namphy.


President Avril, on a trade mission to Taiwan, returns empty-handed after

grassroots-based democratic sectors inform Taiwanese authorities that the Haitian

nation will not be responsible for any contracts agreed to by Avril. Avril orders

massive repression against political parties, unions, students and democratic



Avril declares a state of siege in January. Rising protests and urging from the

American Ambassador convince Avril to resign. A Council of State forms out of

negotiations among democratic sectors, charged with running a Provisional

Government led by Supreme Court Justice Ertha Pascal-Trouillot.

U.S. Vice-President Dan Quayle visits Haiti and tells Army leaders, "No more coups."

Assistance is sought from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United

Nations (UN) to help organize general elections in December.

In a campaign marred by occasional violence and death, democratic elections finally

take place on December 16, 1990. Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a parish priest,

well known throughout the country for his support of the poor, is elected President

with 67.5% of the popular vote. The "U.S. favorite" Marc Bazin finishes a distant

second with 14.2%


Duvalierist holdover and Tonton Makout Dr. Roger Lafontant attempts a coup d'état

to prevent Father Aristide's ascension to power. The Armed Forces quickly remove

him from the National Palace following massive popular protest.

President Aristide is inaugurated on February 7th, five years after Duvalier's fall from

power. A Government is formed by Prime Minister René Préval promising to uproot

the corruption of the past. Over $500 million is promised in aid by the international


In September President Aristide addresses the UN General Assembly. Three days

after his return military personnel with financial backing from neo-Duvalierist sectors

and their international allies unleash a coup d'état, ousting President Aristide. Over

1,000 people are killed in the first days of the coup.

The OAS calls for a hemisphere-wide embargo against the coup régime in support of

the deposed constitutional authorities.


Negotiations between the Washington, D.C. based exiled Government, Haiti's

Parliament and representatives of the coup régime headed by General Raoul Cédras

lead to the Washington Protocol, which is ultimately scuttled by the coup régime.

U.S. President George Bush exempts U.S. factories from the embargo and orders

U.S. Coast Guard to interdict all Haitians leaving the island in boats and to return

them to Haiti.

The OAS embargo fails as goods continue to be smuggled through neighboring

Dominican Republic. Haiti's legitimate authorities ask the United Nations to support a

larger embargo in order to press the coup leaders to step down. The UN pledges to

support efforts by the OAS to find a solution to the political crisis.


President Aristide asks the Secretaries-General of the OAS and the UN for the

deployment by the United Nations and OAS of an international civilian mission to

monitor respect for human rights and the elimination of all forms of violence.

In June Haiti requests an oil and arms embargo from the UN Security Council in

order to pressure the coup régime to give up power.

In July, President Aristide and General Raoul Cédras sign the Governors Island

Accord, which inter alia called for the early retirement of Gen. Cédras, the formation

and training of a new civilian police force, and the return of the President on October

30, 1993. Representatives of political parties and Parliament sign the New York Pact

pledging support for President Aristide's return and the rebuilding of the nation.

A contingent of U.S. and Canadian trainers aboard the U.S.S. Harlan County arrives

in Haitian waters in October and is recalled because of right-wing demonstrations,

setting back the Governors Island agreement. General Cédras refuses to step down

as promised.

President Aristide's Justice Minister Guy Malary, responsible for the formation of a

civilian police force is shot dead in Port-au-Prince weeks after local businessman and

Aristide supporter Antoine Izmery is executed outside of a local church.

The UN calls for "strict implementation" of the embargo against the de facto

authorities. The Civilian Mission's human rights observers are allowed to return in

small numbers.


In May additional sanctions were levied against the régime through a naval blockade

supported by Argentine, Canadian, French, Dutch and U.S. warships.

Tensions increase as human rights violations continue. The Civilian Mission is told by

the de facto authorities to leave the country.

The UN Security Council passes Resolution 940 authorizing the Member States to

form a 6,000 multinational force and "to use all necessary means" to facilitate the

departure of the military régime.

On September 15th, U.S. President Clinton declares that all diplomatic initiatives

were exhausted and that the US with 20 other countries would form a multinational

force. On September 19th these troops land in Haiti after the coup leaders agree to

step down and leave the country.

On October 15th, President Aristide and his Government-in-exile return to Haiti.


In June Haiti hosts the annual OAS General Assembly at Montrouis.

Legislative elections take place that month and in December the presidential contest

is won by former Prime Minister René Préval. (President Aristide is precluded by the

Constitution from succeeding himself).

In November Prime Minister Smarck Michel steps down and Foreign Minister

Claudette Werleigh becomes President Aristide's fourth Prime Minister.


President Préval is inaugurated in February. A Government is formed under Prime

Minister Rosny Smarth. Agricultural production, administrative reform, and economic

modernization are announced as the Goverment's priorities.


Municipal and legislative elections end in disarray because of a flawed vote count,

alleged irregularities and fraud charges. The controversy triggers a boycott of the

presidential elections later that year, won by Aristide.


The crisis sparked by the allegedly fraudulent election deepens amid a failure of

international mediation efforts, a floundering economy and growing political violence.

A few weeks after the nation celebrates its 200th anniversary in January, a rebel

movement seizes control of a number of towns in an uprising that leads to the

resignation of Aristide on Feb. 29, 2004 and his exile to the Central African Republic.

Boniface Alexandre, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, assumed interim authority

as acting President until the February 2006 elections.


René Préval, former President of the Republic of Haiti between 1995 and 2000, wins

the 2006 presidential elections.


On April 12, the Government of Prime Minister, Jacques Edouard Alexis, received a

vote of no confidence from Parliament and resigned. The resignation follows

increased popular discontent over the government’s economic policy and riots again

the rising price of food commodities.

On July 18, Michèle Pierre-Louis’ nomination as Prime Minister was accepted by

Parliament. She is the second female Prime Minister is Haiti’s history.



List of Haitian Heads of State


Year(s) in Office:

Notes about term:

Jean Jacques Dessalines, Governor



Jean Jacques Dessalines, Emperor



Henri Christophe, President

1807 - 1811


Henri Christophe, King



Alexander Petion

1807 - 1818

died in office

Jean Pierre Boyer

1818 - 1843


Riviere Riviere-Herard

1843 - 1844


Philippe Guerrier

1844 - 1845

died in office

Jean Louis Pierrot

1845 - 1846


Jean Baptiste Riche

1847 - 1847

died in office

Faustin Soulouque, President

1847 - 1849


Faustin Soulouque, Emperor



Fabre Nicholas Geffrard

1859 - 1867


Sylvain Salnave

1867 - 1869


Nissage Saget

1870 - 1874

full term

Michel Domingue

1874 - 1876


Boisrond Canal

1876 - 1879


Lysius Felicite Salomon

1879 - 1888


Francois Legitime

1888 - 1889


Florvil Hyppolite

1889 - 1896

died in office

Tiresias Simon Sam

1896 - 1902

full term

Nord Alexis

1902 - 1908


Antoine Simon

1908 - 1911


Cincinnatus Leconte

1911 - 1912

died in office

Tancrede Auguste

1912 - 1913

died in office

Michel Oreste

1913 - 1914


Oreste Zamor



Davilmar Theodore

1914 - 1915


Vilbrun Sam



Sudre Dartiguevave

1915 - 1922

full term (1st US Occupation)

Louis Borno

1922 - 1930

full term (1st US Occupation

Eugene Roy*


(1st US occupation)

Sternio Vincent

1930 - 1941

full term (occupation until 1934)

Élie Lescot

1941 - 1946


Franck Lavaud



Dumarsais Estimé

1946 - 1950


Paul Eugène Magloire

1950 - 1956


Joseph Nemours Pierre-Louis*

1956 - 1957


Franck Sylvain*



Executive Government Council



Antonio Thrasybule Kebreau
(Chairman of the Military Council)



François Duvalier

1957 - 1971

died in office

Jean-Claude Duvalier

1971 - 1986


Henri Namphy

1986 - 1987

full term

Lesli Manigat



Henri Namphy*

1988 - 1989


Prosper Avril*

1989 - 1990


Etha Pascal-Trouillot*

1990 - 1991

full term

Jean-Bertrand Aristide



Joseph Nerette*

1991 - 1992


Marc Bazin (acting prime minister)

1992 - 1993


Émile Jonassaint*



Jean-Bertrand Aristide

1994 - 1996

finished remainder of term

Rene Preval

1996 - 2001

full term

Jean-Bertrand Aristide

2001 - 2004


Boniface Alexandre*

2004 - 2006


René Préval

2006 -


[*Provisional Leader]



credit: CIA, http://www.worldatlas.com , Government of Haiti, CBS