Haiti is a Caribbean country on the island of Hispaniola, the eastern half of which is occupied by the Dominican Republic.
Haiti is located on the western part of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, the eastern half of which is occupied by the Dominican Republic, known as a vacation paradise. Haiti’s land area of 27,750 km² is roughly equal to that of Belgium. In the north Haiti is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and on the south coast by the Caribbean Sea. Southwest of Haiti is Jamaica, west separates the Windward Passage from the island of Cuba.
Haiti’s culture is unique in the Caribbean region. It is shaped on the one hand by the French influence of the educated elite, and on the other hand by the African influences of the rural population. A major driving force in all manifestations of art is the Haitian Vodou. The result is a cultural identity that can be described as distinctly Haitian and that was able to withstand the influences of Christian missionary work and the American occupation at the beginning of the century. However, the progressive urbanization of society and the influence of modern media have brought about a modification of traditional cultural expressions.
It is not surprising that painting and other forms of visual art play a significant role in a society that is largely illiterate. Artistic expression in Haitian culture is diverse and can be found, for example, in the form of colorful paintings, sequined vodoo flags, woodwork and metalwork. Traditionally, Haitian painting represented an integral part of everyday culture as murals in stores or vodou temples.
The state religion of Haiti is Roman Catholicism, to which about 80% of the population belongs. However, especially since the earthquake, there has been an increasing influence of Protestant evangelicals, mainly of U.S. origin. The main influence on art and everyday life, however, is Vodou, which originated in West Africa. Since 2009, it has been officially recognized as a religious practice, but not as a religion in its own right.
Haiti has been largely dependent on development aid since the 2010 earthquake. This economic misery is the result of unstable political conditions, corruption and the exodus of well-educated professionals for economic and political reasons. The reconstruction after the earthquake in 2010 is still not completed. Until today, a large part of the population still lives without access to germ-free drinking water, without electricity and without a functioning waste system. Due to regularly occurring natural disasters, such as Hurricane Matthew in October 2016 and most recently the earthquake on August 14, 2021, Haiti is repeatedly set back in its economic development.
Before the earthquake in 2010, education in Haiti was already accessible only to privileged citizens due to privatization. Since the 2010 earthquake, even more children suffer from the lack of education. Many schools have been destroyed by the natural disasters, the unemployment rate increases daily and thus many children become street children and even partially enslaved. Only 23% of children in rural areas have the opportunity to attend elementary school. The illiteracy rate is particularly high, at about 50 percent. The state has increasingly withdrawn from the education sector because there is not enough money to ensure a well-functioning school system. Consequently, schools are poorly positioned due to a lack of qualified personnel and appropriate equipment.
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