Haiti covers the western third of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The capital city is Port-au-Prince. The January 12, 2010, earthquake significantly damaged key infrastructure and reduced the capacity of Haiti's medical facilities. While slowly improving, Haiti's infrastructure remains in poor condition, unable to support normal activity, much less crisis situations While the Embassy's ability to provide emergency consular services has improved since the earthquake, it remains limited. The Haitian National Police (HNP), with assistance from the UN Stabilization Force for Haiti (MINUSTAH), is responsible for keeping the peace in Haiti and rendering assistance during times of civil unrest. The level of violent crime in Port-au-Prince, including murder and kidnapping, remains a concern and Haiti is considered a 'critical threat' post for crime. - US State Department, 16 August 2013
While hundreds of thousands of US citizens safely visit Haiti every year, the Department of State strongly urges US citizens to consider carefully all travel to Haiti. Travel fully supported by organizations with solid infrastructure, evacuation options, and medical support systems in place is recommended.
If you intend to work for an organization involved in humanitarian efforts in Haiti, be aware that living conditions are difficult. You should confirm that the organization has the capability to provide transportation and shelter for its paid and volunteer workers. All relief organizations should have a security plan in place for their personnel. Please note that space in hotels is extremely limited.
While most crime victims are residents of Haiti, temporary visitors share the risk of falling victim. There remains a persistent danger of violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide, rape, and kidnapping. While the size of the Haitian National Police (HNP) force has been growing and its capabilities improving, its ability to maintain citizen security is limited. - US State department, 16 August 2013
Caribbean, western one-third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic - The World Factbook
The official currency of Haiti is the gourde, which has a variable exchange rate. Visitors will notice that most establishments in Haiti price items in an unofficial currency known as the "Haitian dollar." (One Haitian dollar is equivalent to five gourdes.) Others give prices in gourdes or even in US dollars. It is always a good idea to clarify with vendors which currency -- the gourde, Haitian dollar, or US dollar -- is being used in a given transaction, as price tags often bear a number without indicating currency. The currency itself shows a value in gourdes. US dollars are the currency of choice at the Labadee Beach cruise ship port-of-call.
Travelers' checks are often difficult to change in Haiti, but credit cards are widely accepted and some establishments accept or cash personal checks. At least one local bank chain has ATMs around Port-au-Prince that are compatible with some US ATM cards. These ATMs are frequently out-of-order, and there have been reports of overcharging and robberies at the ATMs. - US State Department, 16 August 2013
|Particulars for Haiti:|
|Corruption Perceptions Index - 2014, Transparency International:||161|
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The native Taino Amerindians - who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by Christopher 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. Continued violence and technical delays prompted repeated postponements, but Haiti finally did inaugurate a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006. A massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti in January 2010 with an epicenter about 25 km (15 mi) west of the capital, Port-au-Prince. Over 300,000 people were killed and some 1 milllion left homeless. The earthquake was assessed as the worst in this region over the last 200 years. - The World Factbook