Geography of Haiti. Landforms, climate, flora and fauna of Haiti
The Republic of Haiti is a state in the western part of Haiti (Caribbean Sea) in the Greater Antilles. The country also includes the nearby islands of Gonave, Tortue (Tortuga), Vash, Cayemites, La Grande Caye, Navasse and several small islands and reefs. The country is washed by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south. It borders the Dominican Republic to the east, Cuba and the Bahamas in the northwest (through the Naval Strait) and Jamaica in the southwest (through the Strait of Jamaica).
The coastline is highly indented. From northwest to southeast and west to east the country is traversed by mountain ranges: the North Range in the north, Mato in the central part, Sel and Ot in the south. The central and southern parts of the country are separated by the depression of the Cul de Sac, to which the salt lake of Somatr is confined. The country is washed by the Atlantic Ocean in the north, and the Caribbean Sea in the south. Windward channel in the north-west is separated from the neighboring island. Cuba. The area is 27.8 thousand sq. km.
Haiti is very mountainous: from the north-west it is broadly distributed between the eastern and southern parts of the island. The Haitian territory is mountainous with the North Ridge running parallel to it from north-west to south-east as well as the Montagne Noire and Mato Mountains. The North West Mountains are on the North West Peninsula, the La Celle Mountains (with La Celle, the highest peak in the country at 2674m) are on the south-east, and the Haute Mountains are on the Tiberon Peninsula. To the north-east of the Northern Range is the Northern Plain, there is the Central Plateau between the Northern Range and the Montagne Noire Mountains, and the lowland depression of the Cul-de-Sac with Lake Somatre between the Mato and La Celle mountains. There are coral reefs along the sea coast.
The relief and hydrography of Haiti
The country is crisscrossed by a series of heavily dissected mountain ranges from east to west, bordered by narrow coastal plains. The northern part of the country is occupied by the Northern Ridge and the Northern Plain. The first, an extension of the Cordillera Central (the largest mountain range of the island of Haiti, located entirely within the Dominican Republic), begins at the eastern border of the country, north of the Guayamuc River, and extends northwest, to the northwestern peninsula. To the north of the Northern Range, along the Atlantic Ocean, lies the narrow Northern Plain. There are two plains and two mountain ranges in the central part of the country. South of the Northern Range, along both banks of the Guayamuc River, the Central Plateau stretches from southeast to northwest. To the southwest of the Plateau is the Montagne Noire Range, which joins the North Range in its northwestern part.
In the south of the Republic of Haiti are the Cul de Sac and the mountains of the southern peninsula. The Sel range, an extension of the southern Dominican Republic’s Sierra de Baoruco, extends from the Sel range in the east to the Haut range in the west; the highest point of the Sel range is also the Republic’s highest point, La Sel peak (2680 m). The main river of the Republic of Haiti is the Artibonite, which originates in the western part of the Dominican Republic, flows for most of its length through the Republic of Haiti and flows into the Gulf of Gonave. The Artibonite is also the longest river of the entire island of Haiti. The Artibonite Valley is the main crop cultivation area of the Republic.
The territory of the Republic is formed by the Cretaceous and Paleogene-Neogene sediments, the latter are associated with significant deposits of aluminum ores. Soils are brown-red and mountainous brown-red ferralized (rich in iron oxides). There are small deposits of copper, lignite (brown coal), manganese, and a large deposit of bauxite.
Part of Haiti’s territory is made up of small coastal islands. The most notable of these are: Gonave (Ile de la Gonave) is the largest of the islands near the island of Haiti. It is located in the Gulf of Gonave, west-north-west of the city of Port-au-Prince. Its area is 743 km2. The Taíno called it Guanabo. At one time Gonave was a haven for pirates.
Tortue (French: Ile de la Tortue, derived its name from the resemblance of the coastline) is the second largest island in the world after Gonave. It is located on the north-west coast of Haiti. In the 17th century, the island was a center of pirate activity in the Caribbean Sea, later gaining popularity in literary works and movies. The area is 180 sq. km.
Vache (Fr. Ile a Vache, “Cow Island”) is a small green island in the south-west of the island of Haiti. The total area is 52 km2.
Les Cayemites are a pair of islands, Petite Cayemite and Grande Cayemite, located in the Gulf of Gonave at the southwestern tip of Haiti. The total area is 45 km2.
Haiti has a tropical trade wind climate, hot and humid with temperatures that vary greatly during the day rather than from season to season. The average daytime temperature in the summer months (June-August) is around +28 ° C, the maximum is +38 ° C, while at night it can drop to +20 ° C. During the winter period (December-February), the average monthly temperature is about +22 ° C, rising on some days up to +30 ° C. The average January temperature is +22°С on the coasts and +28°С in July, while in the mountains it is cooler – +7/+14°С in January.
Rainy seasons: April to June, September to November. Rainfall on the windward slopes of the mountains is 1250-2500 mm a year, while on the leeward slopes it is 500-800 mm. Devastating tropical storms over the country are frequent, mostly from June to September to October. Droughts are also not uncommon.
Two rainy seasons are distinguished: the first lasts from April to June, the second from September to November. The rest of the time the weather remains dry and warm. Devastating tropical storms are frequent, mostly between June and September. The environment is negatively affected by deforestation, which has led to catastrophic erosion of once fertile soils. Wood is used as fuel and as a raw material for light industry.
Vegetation in Haiti.
Most of the plains and leeward slopes are occupied by cacti, shrubby hammerheads, sabal palms, and tall grasses. Cacti reach a height of 4.5 m and in some places form whole forests. Some parts of the coast are covered with mangrove swamps and inland valleys are savannahs with isolated pine trees.
There are tropical forests in the south and southwest, mixed forests in the north, and savannahs (palms, acacias, cacti, agaves, and prickly pear) in the lowlands. Many forests are cut down. Ferns and orchids are found.
In wetter areas, mostly in the south, there are trees typical of the rainforest (Acaju, Dalbergia, Zantoxylum, Guaiacum), and in the mountains, pines. Wild avocados grow, and orange and mango grow. Arable land occupies 20.3% of the island. National parks: Macaya, Foret de Pen, La Visite (tropical forests, caves).
The animal life of Haiti
Many species of insects, but no large mammals (there are agoutis and mongooses imported to kill rats), snakes are few. Ducks and four varieties of wild pigeons are common. Reptiles include three varieties of crocodiles, numerous small lizards. Coastal waters abound with fish, sea turtles, and shrimp.
Population of Haiti
Before the Spanish arrived, the area was inhabited by Arawak Indians. The Spaniards discovered the island in 1492, naming it Española (now Haiti). To work on the cotton and sugar cane plantations, from the beginning of the 16th century black slaves began to be imported from Guinea. In 1697, Spain ceded the western part of the island to France, which became the colony of Saint-Domingue. In 1804 the whole island was declared an independent republic of Haiti (in 1809-21 the eastern part was again a Spanish possession). In 1844 the independent Dominican Republic was separated from it. In 1915-34 the country was occupied by American troops, in 1957-86 dictators of the Duvalier family were in power. The years 1992-2004 were characterized by political instability and civil war. In 2004, international troops were brought into the country to keep the peace.
The current population of the Republic of Haiti is 7,656,000 (2004). Ninety-five percent are black, 5% are mulatto and white. 80% of the faithful are Catholics, 16% are Protestants. But in reality 90% of the population are Afro-Christian cult of voodooism (voodoo) – belief in the magical power of the deities “loa”. The official language is French but 90% of the population speaks Creole.
Republic of Haiti
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French, Haitian Creole
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The name of the country is translated from the ancient Indian language as “Land of the Mountains.”
The Republic of Haiti is one of the poorest, most unstable and ungoverned countries in the world, constantly plagued by famine,
The climate is tropical trade winds. The average annual temperature is 25° C and monthly temperature variations are small. In Port-au-Prince, the minimum temperature is +14.4 and the maximum is +38.9.
The amount of precipitation varies depending on the area. Valleys receive 500 mm of precipitation, in some regions up to 2500 mm.
There are two rainy seasons: the first lasts from April to June, the second from September to November. The rest of the time the weather remains dry and warm. Devastating tropical storms are frequent, mostly between June and September.
The environment is negatively affected by deforestation, which has led to catastrophic erosion of once fertile soils. Wood is used as fuel and as a raw material for light industry.
Drought- and salinity-resistant vegetation predominates. Plains and lee slopes are occupied by cacti, often forming forests, shrubby hammerheads, mesquite-like trees, and thickets of sabal palm. Some parts of the coast are covered with mangrove swamps, and inland valleys are savannahs with pine trees. Trees typical of rainforest (acaju, dalbergia, zantoxylum, guaiacum) grow in the wetter areas, and pines grow in the mountains. Wild avocados grow, and orange and mango grow.
Many species of insects, but no large mammals (there are agoutis and mongooses imported to exterminate rats), snakes are few. Ducks and four varieties of wild pigeons are common. Reptiles include three varieties of crocodiles, numerous small lizards. Coastal waters abound with fish, sea turtles, and shrimp.
In July 2004, more than 1,500 people died from landslides caused by heavy rains, and in September 2004, at least 2,000 were victims of Hurricanes Jeanne and Ivan.
The UN sent humanitarian aid to the victims, the distribution of which again led to bloodshed.
Finally, at the beginning of October 2004, supporters of the deposed President Aristide caused new turmoil. The task of putting an end to them was given to the UN police stabilization force (almost 7000 men). The U.S. allotted $9 million for the training and rearmament of the Haitian army and police, but their efforts have not yielded satisfactory results.
On January 12, 2010, there was an earthquake, the epicenter of which was near the capital of the state. It is reported about thousands of victims among the population of the country, many destructions, including the most important state and international buildings.
Haiti has had diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation since June 2, 1996.
The political situation
MINUSTAH in 2006 (Photo: Patrick-André Perron)
In this situation, René Préval refused to accept the results of the vote, accusing the interim government of falsifications and massive irregularities which, he claimed, had prevented him from winning in the first round.
Supporters of René Préval blockaded the streets of Port-au-Prince and staged numerous riots. Demonstrators vandalized the headquarters of the provisional electoral commission. There were clashes between the population and the U.N. forces throughout the country.
A special commission was created to investigate possible falsifications. The head of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza, arrived in Haiti.
On February 16, 2006, René Préval was declared the winner. The final decision was made after negotiations between the government and the electoral commission. After the creation of the special commission and the recount, Preval was declared the winner with a result of 51.15%.
Under the 1987 Constitution, a Haitian citizen of at least 35 years of age who has lived in the country for at least five years may be elected president. The president is elected by direct universal suffrage by secret ballot for a term of five years. He can be re-elected for a second term only after five years; there is no possibility of a third term. If no candidate receives an absolute majority of votes (50% plus one) in an election, a second round is held, in which the two candidates who receive the most votes participate.
The president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, he negotiates and concludes international agreements, promulgates laws and nominates the prime minister. All decisions of the head of state are subject to approval by the National Assembly (parliament). The President exercises the executive power together with the government.
Legislative power is exercised by the National Assembly which consists of two chambers – the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. Both houses are elected by direct universal secret ballot of citizens – senators for 6 years (every 2 years the senate is renewed by one third), deputies for 4 years. The number of deputies and senators is not constant, it is determined by the electoral law. The National Assembly, elected in 2006, is made up of 30 senators and 99 deputies.
According to the results of elections to the Senate and Chamber of Deputies in February-April 2006:
Front of Hope-Left, 13 senators, 23 deputies
Merger of Social Democrats – leftist, 4 senators, 17 deputies
People’s Struggle Organization – left, 3 senators, 10 deputies
Christian National Union for Reconstruction – centrist, 2 senators, 12 deputies
Six more parties are represented in the Senate and ten more parties in the Chamber of Deputies.
Regular elections to the senate and the Chamber of Deputies are scheduled for February 2010.
Haiti is divided into ten departments.
The Republic of Haiti is the poorest state in the western hemisphere of the planet and one of the poorest countries in the world (GDP per capita in 2008 – $1,300, 203rd in the world).
Below the poverty level – 80% of the population.
The main source of foreign currency income of the country is remittances from immigrants (25% of GDP, twice as much as total exports from the country).
Foreign debt – $1.8 billion (at the end of 2008).
Two-thirds of the population is engaged in agriculture. A third of the country’s land is under cultivation. The development of agriculture is hindered by natural conditions.
Coffee, mango, sugar cane, rice, corn and sorghum are grown.
The industry .
The main branches of industry are sugar making, flour-milling, textile.
- Exports ($ 0.49 billion in 2008) – clothing and textile, cocoa, mango, coffee.
Main customers – USA 71 %, Dominican Republic 9 %, Canada 3 %.
- Imports: (2,11 billion USD in 2008) – foodstuffs, manufactured goods, fuels.
Main suppliers are: USA 34 % , Dominican Republic 23 % , Netherlands Antilles 11 % , China 5 % .
Roads are about 4 thousand km long, but most of them are not paved, so they are not suitable in rainy season. There are paved roads between the main cities of the country. There are railroads, but their length is only 40 km.
The annual growth rate is 1.8%.
Fertility is 3.8 births per woman.
Life expectancy – 61 years (59 years for men, 62 years for women).
Infant mortality is 60 per 1000.
Infection with Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) – 2.2% (2007 estimate).
Ethno-racial composition – the Negroes – 95 per cent, mulattoes and whites – 5 per cent.
Religions – Catholics 80 per cent, Protestants 16 per cent (Baptists 10 per cent, Pentecostals 4 per cent, Adventists 1 per cent), other religions 3 per cent, atheists 1 per cent. (At the same time, about half of the population is practicing cults – 53% (2003 estimate).
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