Country Listing

Haiti Table of Contents



Population: Population estimated at 6.1 million in 1989. Estimated growth averaged 1.4 percent annually from 1971 to 1982.

Language: The 1987 Constitution recognizes both French and Creole as official languages. Two languages linguistically distinct and not mutually comprehensible. Creole more widely spoken, but facility with French connotes higher social status.

Ethnic Groups: Population almost entirely black and mulatto as result of historical origin as slaveholding agricultural colony of France. Country's powerful economic and political elite mainly mulatto. Only ethnic minority the "Arabs"- -Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian immigrants--most of whom worked in export-import sector.

Religion: Roman Catholicism official religion according to 1860 Concordat with Vatican. Voodoo more widely practiced than Catholicism and could be considered national religion. Much overlap between believers in both religions, with most voodooists considering themselves members of Roman Catholic Church. Although church joined in several antivoodoo campaigns in course of Haiti's history, its opposition to folk religion more sporadic and ambivalent than that of Protestant missionaries, who condemned voodoo as diabolical in nature.

Education and Literacy: As of 1982, 65 percent of population over age ten had received no education. Literacy rate estimated at 23 percent in 1987, but increasing as result of higher enrollments, beginning in late 1970s. Private schools overtook public schools in primary school enrollment in early 1980s. Chronic shortage of qualified teachers, mainly because of low pay. University of Haiti major institution of higher education.

Health: Malnutrition widespread, especially among children. Prenatal and postnatal care inadequate, contributing to high infant mortality rate of 124 per 1,000 live births in 1983. Most child deaths attributed to infectious diseases (especially diarrheal ailments), malnutrition, and acute respiratory illness. Most adult deaths from malaria, tuberculosis, parasitic diseases, and typhoid.

Data as of December 1989