Haiti is a small Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. With its capital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti occupies the western third of Hispaniola, a total of 27,750 square kilometers (10,714 square miles), roughly equivalent to the size of the state of Maryland. Originally called Ayiti, “land of high mountains,” by the indigenous Taíno Amerindians, the island is rough and mountainous with a mix of tropical and semiarid climate. In 2011, Haiti’s estimated population numbered more than 9.7 million people.

The history of Haiti tells a story of unceasing decline, marked by revolutionary accomplishment and deterioration that has left the country in shambles. Once the richest colony in the world, Haiti is today the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Glimmers of ...

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