Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, is situated on the western third of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea, east of Cuba. A former French colony, it was one of the first countries of the Americas, after the United States, to declare its independence. Its capital is Port-au-Prince.
Haiti has been plagued by political violence and corrupt dictators for most of its history. Over three decades of dictatorship followed by military rule ended in 1990 when Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president. Most of his term was usurped by a military coup d'etat, but he was able to return to office in 1994 and oversee the installation of a close associate to the presidency in 1996.
About 80% of the population lives in abject poverty. Nearly 70% of all Haitians depend on the agriculture sector, which consists mainly of small-scale subsistence farming and employs about two-thirds of the economically active work force. The country has experienced little job creation since President Préval took office in February 1996, although the informal economy is growing. Failure to reach agreements with international sponsors have denied Haiti badly needed budget and development assistance. Meeting aid conditions in 2000 will be especially challenging in the face of mounting popular criticism of reforms.
From the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the U.S. Department of State website. Not Wikified.