Yesterday’s post was a little bleak; today we’re going to share some “fun” facts about Haiti.
1. In 1807, gourds were the national currency of Haiti and all gourds were named property of the state. Today, Haitian currency is called “gourdes”
2. One of Haiti’s islands, Tortuga Island (Île de la Tortue in French), was a pirate stronghold in the seventeenth century.
3. Cow Island, which lies off Haiti’s southern coast, is named as such because it was once overrun by wild cows descended from animals abandoned by the Spanish.
4. The capital Port-Au-Prince was founded in 1749 and was named for the Prince, a French ship anchored in the bay.
5. Haiti was the first post-colonial independent black-led nation in the world.
6. Since 1804 Haiti has had four national flags.
7. The word barbecue comes from the Spanish translation of the native Haitian word barbacoa.
I still feel like I only know a little bit about Haiti. My normal process when traveling is to obsessively research and then to deliberate on every aspect of my trip. I’m a planner. However, on this trip, I really haven’t had that option. I’m along for the ride … and it’s only stressed me out a little!
When you do a broad Google search for Haiti, your search results are mostly current news articles about the reconstruction of the country and about the problems that still exist there from the earthquake that happened in 2010 as well as data fact sheets posted by various agencies. Even when you search something specific like “travel to Haiti,” you only get posted warnings from various state governments and broad information from a few of the larger travel organizations (Lonely Planet, etc).
Here are seven of the most startling facts compiled from a list created by Random Facts.
1. More than 10% of Haitian children die before age five.
2. Eighty percent of Haitians live under the poverty. The average per capita income in Haiti is $480 a year, compared to $33,550 in the United States.
3. Only 53% of Haitians can read and write.
4. Only about 10% of all Haitian children enrolled in elementary school go on to a high school.
5. Families who live in the country spend almost 60% of their income on food.
6. One in 50 people are infected with HIV/AIDS.
7. More than 200,000 Haitians died and millions were left homeless in a devastating earthquake in January 2010.