History of Haiti


Jacmel is a beautiful city 3 hours south away from Port-au-Prince (Lonely Planet). It is known to be an old coffee export area and the friendliest area of Haiti (Lonely Planet). The export trade ended after World War II (Lonely Planet). History, creativity and art set this city apart (Lonely Planet). Every year during lent season, Haiti’s traditional Carnivals take place in Jacmel. This town was the first to have telephones, electric lights, and portable water (Lonely Planet). In 1896 Jacmel caught fire but was rebuilt later on, with specific and unique Haitian architectural design (Lonely Planet). Jacmel is not city-like, as Port-au-Prince. Trees, forest, mountains and the shores of the ocean make Jacmel beautiful and desiring to visit. Although the nature surrounding the town is beautiful, poverty is still prominent and the need is still very great.


Haitians today represent the surviving Taino Amerindians who inhabited the island called Hispaniola when Christopher Columbus discovered it in 1492 (Central Intelligence Agency [CIA], 2013). Within 25 years, Spanish settlers murdered or enslaved the natives (CIA, 2013). Shortly after also settling on Hispaniola, the French took western third of the island, which later was named Haiti. The French colony was then largely based on forestry and sugar-related industries. Because of the slave trade and extreme environmental degradation, it quickly became one of the most profitable islands in the Caribbean (CIA, 2013). In the late 18th century, nearly 500,000 Haitian slaves revolted and in 1804 Haiti became the first black republic to declare independence (CIA, 2013). A magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010 with an epicenter about 15 miles west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. More than 300,000 people were killed and an estimated one million left homeless (CIA, 2013). An influx of relief organizations then attempted to bring supplies and philosophies for healing.

Poverty poses many boundaries for community growth in Haiti. As of July 2012, the population of Haiti was just under 10 million (CIA, 2013). Less than nine percent of the population is over 54 years old because of the high risk of infectious diseases (CIA, 2013). Nearly 20% of children under five were underweight in 2006 (CIA, 2013), a number that natives say increased due to the lack of resources after the earthquake. About half of the total population is illiterate (CIA, 2013), which reflects the poor structure of the Haitian educational system. According to natives, many children cannot go to school due to economic factors. Haiti is still suffering from the damage that the earthquake caused and though the flood of nonprofit relief organizations offered a temporary hope, nearly half of the money pledged in 2010 and 2011 is still not given to help the Haitian people (Klarreich & Polman, 2012) resulting in a continuously impoverished nation.

Klarreich, K. & Polman, L. (2012). The ngo republic of haiti. The Nation, 295(21), 11-17.