Haiti Travel Information

Photo One of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been plagued by political violence 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 takeover, but he was able to return to office in 1994 and oversee the installation of a close associate to the presidency in 1996. ARISTIDE won a second term as president in 2000, and took office early in 2001. However, a political crisis stemming from fraudulent legislative elections in 2000 has not yet been resolved.


Although Haiti averages about 290 people per square kilometer (748 per sq. mi.), its population is concentrated most heavily in urban areas, coastal plains, and valleys. About 95% of Haitians are of African descent. The rest of the population is mostly of mixed Caucasian-African ancestry. A few are of European or Levantine heritage. About two-thirds of the population live in rural areas.

The Spaniards used the island of Hispaniola (of which Haiti is the western part and the Dominican Republic the eastern) as a launching point from which to explore the rest of the Western Hemisphere. French buccaneers later used the western third of the island as a point from which to harass English and Spanish ships. In 1697, Spain ceded the western third of Hispaniola to France. As piracy was gradually suppressed, some French adventurers became planters, making Saint Domingue, as the French portion of the island was known, the "pearl of the Antilles"--one of the richest colonies in the 18th century French empire.

Haiti remains the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world. Comparative social and economic indicators show Haiti falling behind other low-income developing countries (particularly in the hemisphere) since the 1980s.

Important: Travel to Haiti may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Haiti visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Republic of Haiti
Capital city: Port-au-Prince
Area: 27,750 sq km
Population: 9,801,664
Ethnic groups: black 95%, mulatto and white 5%
Languages: French
Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16%
Government: republic
Chief of State: President Michel MARTELLY
Head of Government: Prime Minister Laurent LAMOTHE
GDP: 12.37 billion
GDP per captia: 1,200
Annual growth rate: 5.6%
Inflation: 8.4%
Agriculture: coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, sorghum
Major industries: textiles, sugar refining, flour milling, cement, light assembly based on imported parts
Natural resources: bauxite, copper, calcium carbonate, gold, marble, hydropower
Location: Caribbean, western one-third of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of the Dominican Republic
Trade Partners - exports: US 83.9%
Trade Partners - imports: Dominican Republic 31.5%, US 25%, Netherlands Antilles 8.6%, China 7.1%