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Haiti:
Geography

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Background
Definition
The native Taino Amerindians - who inhabited the island of Hispaniola when it was discovered by COLUMBUS in 1492 - were virtually annihilated by Spanish settlers within 25 years. In the early 17th century, the French established a presence on Hispaniola, and 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 its 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 Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Continued violence and technical delays prompted repeated postponements, but Haiti finally did inaugurate a democratically elected president and parliament in May of 2006.
Location
Definition
Caribbean, western one-third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic
Geographic coordinates
Definition
19 00 N, 72 25 W
Map references
Definition
Central America and the Caribbean
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 27,750 sq km
land: 27,560 sq km
water: 190 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly smaller than Maryland
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 360 km
border countries: Dominican Republic 360 km
Coastline
Definition
1,771 km
Maritime claims
Definition
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: to depth of exploitation
Climate
Definition
tropical; semiarid where mountains in east cut off trade winds
Terrain
Definition
mostly rough and mountainous
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Chaine de la Selle 2,680 m
Natural resources
Definition
bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble, hydropower
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 28.11%
permanent crops: 11.53%
other: 60.36% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
920 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
14 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 0.99 cu km/yr (5%/1%/94%)
per capita: 116 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding and earthquakes; periodic droughts
Environment - current issues
Definition
extensive deforestation (much of the remaining forested land is being cleared for agriculture and used as fuel); soil erosion; inadequate supplies of potable water
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Hazardous Wastes
Geography - note
Definition
shares island of Hispaniola with Dominican Republic (western one-third is Haiti, eastern two-thirds is the Dominican Republic)


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