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Haiti: An Understanding Lynda Liburd
Historical Finding Of Haiti • During Christopher Columbus’s voyage to the New World, he stumbles upon an Island in the Caribbean called Hispaniola. Which is now occupied by Haitians And Dominicans. • Hispaniola fell to the imperialistic views of Spain and became an expansion of the many territories of Spain.
Inhabitants • Haiti was first inhabited by Indians called Tainos. • As Spain expanded its power throughout the Island, the Indians began to be used as slaves and was subdued to abuse and physical labor. • As time progressed Indians were no longer useful as slaves. They began dying from diseases the Spaniards brought over and could not sustain the physical hardships of working in the fields. • Indians also could not work under the constant heat and humidity of the Caribbean's. • The Tainos Indians were eventually slaughtered and mass genocide spread throughout the Island.
French Settlement • When the 17th century came around, Spain was no longer the driving power in Europe as well as the Caribbean. • Countries like France and Britain began to notice and saw their opportunity to advance their territories. • France began to attack Spanish ships and as a result established a colony in Haiti. • In 1697, the treaty of Ryswick proclaimed France the “rightful owners” of Haiti and mad Spain relinquish their claim for the country.
Africans in Haiti • The slave trade of Africans was pivotal to the economic prosperity of many European countries. • During the 16th century, slave trading of Africans was established in Haiti and as a result slaves became the main source of economic and international trade. • Africans tended to the fields and could sustain the heat and humidity and also sustain the physical labor given to them.
The beginning of the conflict between Color and Class. • As the middle of the 18th century peaked around, a growing distaste was growing between the white colonists and the free blacks. • The class system and the racial system became one. Haiti was divided into three groups: • Whites (blancs) who were the elite at the time. • Free Blacks (gens de couleur or affrachis) who were usually mulattoes. • Finally, the slaves
Continue • The conflict came when free blacks were being segregated from society. The white colonists used the legislation to block the mulattoes from certain professions, marrying whites, wear European clothing and attending social events where whites were present. • The “affrachis” wanted to be equals to the “blancs” and felt a sense of discrimination.
Slave rebellion of 1791 • Runaway slaves called “maroons” began attacking white colonists because they wanted an end to the slaveholding system. • Unfortunately, the “maroons” fell to the advance weaponry of the colonists and as a result 10,000 slaves died and only 2,000 colonists perished. • However, the rebellion was not in vain. This battle began a chain of events that would be led by a man named Toussaint Louverture that would eventually lead to Haiti’s independence.
Independence • On January 1, 1804 Haiti proclaimed its independence. • Haiti became the first independent black republic and the second free country in the Western hemisphere. • Jean-Jacques Dessalines would become there Emperor.
Present Day Haiti • Today Haiti is still independent however Haiti became one of the most impoverish and densely populated countries in the world.
Population • In 1989, Haiti estimated population was at about 6.1 million. • An average population density of 182 people per square kilometer. • 75 percent of the total population lived in rural areas. • 25 percent of the population lived in urban areas • Mortality rate was estimated to be 16.5 percent and the birth rate was estimated to be 36 percent.
Class system • Upper Class • the upper class constituted for 2 percent of the population • the “elite” held important positions in trade, industry, real estate, and important professions such as lawyers and Doctors. • They received a better education and most of the children went to schools in France and America. • The “elite” consisted of Light skin, straight hair Haitians.
Class system • Middle Class • Make up 7 percent of the population • received a moderate education however not like the upper class. • Held government jobs and wanted to emulate the upper class. • Peasants • made up 75 percent of the population • Their source of income was owning and tending to their land • They main focus was owning as much land they can. • No education needed • Became outsiders to urban societies. • Urban Lower Class • Lowest in the class system • make up 15 percent of the population • They received no education and lived in the worst sanitary and health conditions. • Spent most of their income on water.
Economy • Lowest in the Western Hemisphere and 27th in the world. • Imports $308 million • Imports consist of food, machinery and transport equipment, and petroleum. • Exports $198 million • Consist of manufactured goods and coffee • Currency • Gourde • Five gourde equal $1 American dollar • US currency is also used.
Language • Two languages are spoken in Haiti, French and Creole • French is used by the more intellectual Haitians, the “elite” • French is the language used in politics and the government. • French is also used in formal occasions • Creole is used by the majority of the population. • People who spoke Creole avoided social situation because their inability to communicate in French would be an embarrassment to them. • Creole was mostly used for telling joke because in the French language it lacked the informal qualities. • Bilingual Haitians spoke both French and Creole however they spoke more Creole and than French and sometimes had the most embarrassment. • In 1969, a law passed giving Creole legal status and in 1983 Haiti declared both French and Creole the countries official languages.
My Experience • My trip to Haiti was definitely and eye opener. At first glance, the country was not what I imagined. There people very well dressed and the airport was very secure. • Then I took a trip to the country side and that’s when I really saw the real Haiti.
Conclusion • Although Haiti became the second independent country in the Western Hemisphere, economic disparity shook the country. Unable to provide for itself, Haiti looked for outside support from the United States and the Unites Nations. Today Haiti is one of the most scenic countries, with its mountainous regions and beautiful landscapes hopefully in the future it will become a country for tourists.
Bibliography • Tata, J., Robert. Haiti. Maryland: University Press of America, 1982. • Pamphile, D., Lean. Haitians and African Americans A Heritage of Tragedy and Hope. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 2001. • Library Of Congress. 2005. 29 December 2005 <http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/>