Capital | Port-au-Prince
Population | 9,203,083 (July 2010 est.)
Area | 27,750 SQ KM
Official Language | French, Creole
Holidays | Independence Day, 1 January (1804 – from France)
Currency | gourdes (HTG)
Time Zone | UTC -5
Best Time to Visit | June to August
Connecting with the Culture | Touring Jacmel’s Victorian gingerbread homes. Taking in the Spanish-influened architecture of Cap-Haitien. Taking the horseback trek to the Bassins Bleu – three cobalt-blue pools joined by spectacular cascades. Working with or supporting an aid organization working in Port-au-Prince to rebuild the capital after the devastating earthquake of January 2010.
Read | Beast of the Haitian Hills by Pierre Marcelin and Philippe Thoby Marcelin, a novel about life in the Haitian countryside.
Listen | to Cuban-Haitian vocal group Desandann
Watch | Lumumba by acclaimed Haitian director Raoul Peck
Eat | grillot de banana pese (pork chop with island bananas)
Drink | rum
In a Word | Pas plus mal (no worse than before)
Characteristics | Voudu; zombies; Papa Doc; slave history; poverty; shanty towns
Surprises | Orange peels drying on sunny surfaces in Cape Haitien are destined to be used to flavor the liqueurs Grand Manier and Cointreau.
NEWS ABOUT HAITI
`Perfect storm' of environmental circumstances in Haiti cholera cases
(HN, 6/28/12) - The death rate from the Haiti cholera epidemic that has killed more than 7,000 people over the past 2 years has finally ebbed, but the debate about the source of the disease has only grown more heated, following the recent release of a study led by a University of Maryland cholera expert renowned in the scientific community. Challenging prevailing wisdom, the study found that Haiti had not just 1 cholera strain but a 2nd one that may have been lurking undetected prior to the arrival of a UN peacekeeping battalion from Nepal. Many finger the battalion as the chief culprit for a disease that has sickened more than half a million people. The study fell short of explicitly blaming the epidemic on the newly discovered strain but said it was a factor. The report added that a "perfect storm" of environmental circumstances in 2010 enabled the bacteria to surface, as the impoverished country was hit by a massive earthquake, a hurricane & a "very hot summer season." (Read more at Boston.com)
Haiti Launches Plan to Reduce Seismic Risk in North of Country
(HN, 3/30/12) - Haitian Interior Minister Thierry Mayard-Paul & UNDP Chief Helen Clark hosted a ceremony to launch the program Friday in Cap-Haitien, the first of its kind in a developing country. North Haiti has a high level of earthquake risk & the plan is a joint venture between Haiti’s National System for Disaster Risk Reduction, under the Ministry of Interior. It includes the establishment of seismic zoning, improved construction practices & training programs for builders & engineers. “This project is a historical landmark & this is to the credit of the Haitian government,” said Clark. Haiti & the UNDP are already working on similar efforts in Port-au-Prince as a “proactive strategy for risk reduction”. Last week President Michel Martelly announced a plan to move power for disaster risk planning away from the capital & toward local municipalities.
(UNISDR 2010-2011 campaign, "Resilient Cities")
Since 2005, the UN, world nations, local community & global corporate partners have been working together on the Hyogo Framework for Action which works to raise awareness about climate induced adaptation to increased disasters & the need to prepare for, mitigate & hopefully prevent more serious outcomes when emergencies do strike. This pre-disaster planning requires input from all levels of society to work efficiently & successfully & the UNISDR is the coordinating organization which oversees the process of working towards the Millennium Development Goals deadline of 2015 to see significant action on this global effort & has been meeting with member partners every 2 years as the `Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction'. Margareta Wahlström is the UN's SRSG who runs the UNISDR effort & previously served as the UN's Assistant-SG for Humanitarian Affairs, (UNOCHA) which is the UN's arm responding to emergency disaster situations.