Republic of Haiti
CAPITAL : Port-au-Prince
FLAG : The upper half is blue, the lower half red.
ANTHEM : La Dessalinienne (Song of Dessalines).
MONETARY UNIT : The gourde ( G ) is a paper currency of 100 centimes. There are coins of 5, 10, 20, and 50 centimes and notes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 250, and 500 gourdes. Silver (5, 10, and 25 gourdes) and gold (20, 50, 100, 200, 1,000 gourdes) coins have also been minted. US paper currency also circulates freely throughout Haiti. G 1 = $0.0243 (or $1 = G 41) as of May 2003.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is official for customs purposes, but French colonial units and US weights also are used.
HOLIDAYS : Independence and New Year's Day, 1 January; Forefathers Day, 2 January; Pan American Day, 14 April; Labor Day, 1 May; Flag and University Day, 18 May; National Sovereignty Day, 22 May; Assumption, 15 August; Anniversary of the Death of Dessalines, 17 October; UN Day, 24 October; All Saints' Day, 1 November; Commemoration of the Battle of Vertières and Armed Forces Day, 18 November; Discovery of Haiti, 5 December; Christmas, 25 December. Movable religious holidays include Carnival (three days before Ash Wednesday) and Good Friday.
TIME : 7 AM = noon GMT.
For the vast majority of Haiti's people, the African ethnic influence is dominant. About 95% of the inhabitants are black; mulattos and whites make up the remaining 5% of the population.
The official languages of Haiti are French and Creole. French is only spoken by about 20% of the population. Virtually all the people speak Creole, a mixture of early 17th-century provincial French and African tongues, with infusions of English, Spanish, and Amerindian words. English is used in the capital and to a lesser extent in the provincial cities, and along the Dominican border a Spanish Creole is spoken.
In 1994, a civilian administration replaced the military government. The armed forces and police were disbanded and they were replaced with a National Police Force, which has an estimated 5,300 members. A small coast guard of 30 members mans patrol craft only. Army equipment has been destroyed. Security expenditures in 2000 were $50 million or 1.3% of GDP.
Haiti is a charter member of the UN, having joined on 24 October 1945, and belongs to ACCT, ACP, Caricom, CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ITU, LAES, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW (signatory), PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO and WTrO.
The National Council for Scientific Research, founded in 1963, coordinates scientific activities in Haiti, especially in the public health field. Four colleges and universities, including the University of Haiti, offer degrees in basic and applied sciences.
Major world insurance companies maintain agencies or branches in Haiti, the most prominent being Sun Life of Canada, the first to enter into life insurance. The insurance classes covered are life, accident, sickness, fire, and motor.
Haiti has no territories or colonies.
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Dash, J. Michael. Culture and Customs of Haiti. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2001.
Dayan, Joan. Haiti, History, and the Gods. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
Dupuy, Alex. Haiti in the New World Order: The Limits of the Democratic Revolution. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1997.
Greene, Anne. The Catholic Church in Haiti: Political and Social Change. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1993.
Haggerty, Richard A., ed. Dominican Republic and Haiti: Country Studies. 2d ed. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1991.
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Health in the Americas, 2002 edition. Washington, D.C.: Pan American Health Organization, Pan American Sanitary Bureau, Regional Office of the World Health Organization, 2002.
Heinl, Robert Debs. Written in Blood: The Story of the Haitian People, 1492–1995. Lanham: University Press of America, 1996.
Laguerre, Michel S. The Military and Society in Haiti. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1993.
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