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Keywords: emergency relieffood crisiswatoto
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Area: 27,750 sq km
Population: 10 million
Languages: Creole, French
Religions: Christian
GNI per capita: US$660
Currency: 1 gourde = 100 centimes
Haiti became the world's first black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean state when it threw off French colonial control and slavery in a series of wars in the early 19th century. 
The country’s climate is generally hot, with cooler weather from December to February. Rainy weather in the spring and fall can make roads virtually impassable. Hurricanes deal further blows to living conditions on the island.
A mostly mountainous country with a tropical climate, Haiti's location, history and culture - epitomized by voodoo - once made it a potential tourist hot spot, but instability and violence, especially since the 1980s, have severely dented that prospect. 
Haiti has the lowest per capita income of any country in the western hemisphere. Plagued by disease, malnutrition, illiteracy, political upheaval, and deforestation, more than three quarters of the population live in extreme poverty. Because of the dreadful conditions, people often try to immigrate to the United States or the Dominican Republic in search of better opportunities.
Haiti is the most densely populated nation in the western hemisphere. About half of the population is peasant farmers. Some of these farmers own land, but most do not have enough to grow food for their families, let alone earn a sufficient income. Overcrowding and the demand for wood charcoal have led to severe deforestation and soil erosion throughout the country.
Meanwhile, Haiti's most serious underlying social problem, the huge wealth gap between the impoverished Creole-speaking black majority and the French-speaking minority, 1% of whom own nearly half the country's wealth, remains unaddressed.
Life for Haitian children is quite difficult. Though they are supposed to begin school at age six, many parents can’t afford the mandatory school fees, and some villages don’t even have school facilities. It’s not uncommon for a child to enter the first grade at age 15.