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Reading: Marston Chapter 1 World Regional Geography January 20, 2010 Website: http://www.colorado.edu/geography/class_homepages/geog_1982_s10/
Haiti • Brief History of Haiti • Brief Geography of Haiti • Human / Social • Physical • January 12th Earthquake • What happened…. • Social implications • International response • How are geographers helping? • How does this affect the world?
Colonial History 1492: Columbus lands on Hispaniola, Spanish colonize Island shortly thereafter. 1697: Eastern 1/3 of Hispaniola ceded to France by Spain (Saint-Domingue). 1791: Slave revolts begin. 1804: Haiti achieves independence.
History 1825: After several failed attempts to retake the country, France officially recognizes Haiti. 1914: British, German, and US forces enter Haiti to ‘protect their citizens”. 1915-1934: US occupation of Haiti. 1937: Parsley Massacre.
History 1991: Elected leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide fleas the country following a successful coup. 1994: Aristide returns with international support. 2004: Following his re-election in 2000, Aristide is again overthrown amidst corruption charges. US Marines “evacuate” Aristide. 2006: Current President Rene Preval elected.
Instability & Emigration Since achieving independence in 1804 the sitting Haitian government has been overthrown 32 times. As a result hundreds of thousands have fled Haiti • Dominican Republic (800,000) • United States (600,000) • New York City • Miami (Little Haiti) • Canada (100,000) • Montreal • France (80,000) • Bahamas (80,000)
Haiti: Interesting Facts • Only nation in the world born of a slave revolt. • First independent nation in Latin America. • First black-led post-colonial independent nation in the world. • Only French-speaking independent nation in the Americas. • Strong connection to Louisiana Creole population. • 17th century haven for pirates. • Tortuga and the “Brethren of the Coast”
The People • Population: 9,035,536 • Ethnicity • African Decent: 95% • White / Mulatto: 5% • Religion* • Roman Catholic: 80% • Protestant: 16% • None: 1% • Other: 3% • Official Languages • French • Creole * It is estimated that roughly 50% of the population actually practices Haitian Vodou, which merges Catholicism and West African religions.
Population Characteristics • Demographic differences related to stages of development. • “Demographic Transition”
Social/Vital Characteristics • Highest fertility rate in the western hemisphere. • Ranks 149th out of 182 countries in U.N. Human Development Index.
Economic Characteristics Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. * Nearly 2/3 of the population is not formally employed.
Socio- Economic Characteristics • Poverty • Most Haitians live on less than $2 per day. • 80% of the population lives below the poverty line. • 54% live in “abject poverty”. • Poverty has forced some 225,000 children into virtually slavery (unpaid servants). • Labor Force • Lack of skilled labor, and opportunities for skilled laborers. • 2/3 of population relies on small-scale agriculture (subsistence), which is extremely vulnerable to natural hazards. • Education • Brain-drain: 80% of Haitian college graduates have left the country to find work. • Inequality • 50% of the nations wealth is owned by 1% of the population.
Physical Geography Area: 27,750 km², slightly smaller than Maryland. »3rd largest Caribbean nation. Climate: Tropical, semi-arid immediately east of mountains. Terrain: Mountainous with dispersed plains and river valleys. »Highest point: 2,680 meters (8,793 feet) Arable Land: 28.11% Permanent Crops: 11.53%
Physical Geography Environmental Issues • Extensive Deforestation • Agriculture • Logging • Fuel (Charcoal) • Soil Erosion • Mud-slides • Lack of Potable Water Natural Hazards “Lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding and earthquakes; periodic droughts.” (CIA World Fact Book)
January 12, 2010 in Review Time: 4:53pm local time (Eastern Time Zone) Magnitude: 7.0 on the Richter Scale Location: 25km (15mi) WSW of Port-Au-Prince Depth: 13km (8.1mi)
Caribbean Earthquakes • How prevalent are earthquakes in this region? • Was what happened rare?
Caribbean Earthquakes • How prevalent are earthquakes in this region? • Was what happened rare? • Small earthquakes occur daily in this region, although this particular earthquake was unusually large. • Yes…..and no. Seismic activity is common in the Caribbean, but the precise location of this quake was somewhat unusual. • The last significant earthquake along the Enriquillo-Plaintain Garden Fault occurred in 1860.
January 12, 2010 in Review An earthquake of this magnitude occurs somewhere in the world, on average, once every 3 weeks. In relation to other earthquakes, the Haiti quake was very strong. However, what made this earthquake particularly devastating was not necessarily its strength, but WHERE it occurred.
Recipe for Disaster • Proximity to Population • Metro Port-Au-Prince: 2,000,000 • Shallow epicenter = greater surface intensity • Most buildings not designed to withstand earthquakes. • Simple concrete structures. • Many of the slums surrounding Port-Au-Prince are built on steep hillsides. • Haiti does not have the resources to respond to a disaster of this magnitude.
Social Ramifications • Health & Humanitarian • Estimated 200,000 dead. • 3 million Haitians in need of food, water, and medical care (U.N.). • Estimated 1.5 million Haitians are now homeless. • Search and rescue (5-7 days) • Medical care for those successfully extracted. • Sanitation and disease. • Social & Political • Most government infrastructure destroyed. • Rule of law? • “Mob Justice” • Looting and rioting – both “criminal” and survival oriented. • International aid - should foreign governments step in for the Haitian government?
How are Geographers Involved • Logistics • Satellite Imagery: search and rescue mapping. • Transportation of aid once it reaches Hispaniola. • Socio-political • Aid organization – making difficult decisions. • Predicting social behaviors / reactions.
How does this affect the world? • Safety of foreign nationals. • Diplomats, foreign companies • Instability affects neighboring countries. • Refugees / Legal length of stay. • World commodity prices. • Sugar, coffee • Transportation and trade. • Airline routes • International shipping
Aftershock: January 20, 2010 Time: 6:03am local time (Eastern Time Zone) Magnitude: 6.1 on the Richter Scale Location: 53km (35mi) WSW of Port-Au-Prince Depth: 9.9km (6.1mi)