Haiti: 15 Things You Didn’t Know (Part 1)

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Hundreds of years of instability and natural disasters have left Haiti buried in poverty and vulnerability. For that reason, Haiti’s outstanding landscape remains a secret for most international tourists who visit other Caribbean countries instead. Here are 15 things you probably didn’t know about Haiti! Stay tuned for part two, coming soon.

Number Fifteen: Obscure Art

Port-au-Prince houses what is, perhaps, the oddest art gallery in the Caribbean. Aziz Rezistans is a collective art exhibition that portrays sculptures made out of human bones and metal. The whole exhibit shows a feel of Haiti’s voodoo culture.

Number Fourteen: Haiti’s High Infant Mortality Rate

It’s a big accomplishment for a Haitian child to reach adulthood. Over 10% of Haitian children die before turning five, making Haiti the country with the highest infant mortality in the Western hemisphere.

Number Thirteen: Mobile Payment Leader

Surprised? Paradoxically, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere is also one of the most technologically advanced in some particular fields. Haiti has quickly adopted mobile phone payment. More Haitians use this service than North Americans do! And they also have a wider number of services available to choose from.

Number Twelve: Smallest Number of Prisoners

According to a study carried out in 2010 in all of the Americas, Haiti is the Caribbean country with the smallest number of people imprisoned, with only 5,331, or 55 per 100,000 people. The rate in Dominican Republic is 21,050. Despite its bad reputiation, Haiti’s murder rate is also one of the smallest in the Caribbean.

Number Eleven: Most Number of NGOs

Haiti is, definitely, a republic of NGOs. It is estimated that there are around 7,000 operating NGOs in the country (more than there are prisoners!) Most of these were created before the earthquake took place in 2010.

Number Ten: First Country to Abolish Slavery

Haiti, like most American nations, was built on slavery after Christopher Columbus colonized most Caribbean territories. It became the first nation in the world to abolish it, 65 years before the U.S. did.

Number Nine: Least Number of Trees

Haiti is a seriously deforested country. In fact, it’s the country in the world with the least number of trees, despite being the most mountainous in the Caribbean. In 2013, Haitian government aimed at planting 50 million trees a year in order to get their verdant forests back.

Number Eight: Real-Life Zombies?

One of the most obscure peculiarities of Haiti’s voodoo culture is the use of ‘zombie powder.’ Haitian ‘zombies’ have been said to be dead people resurrected and used as slaves. The closest thing to a rational explanation that has been provided explains that this ‘powder’, which the person inhales, leaves them in a state of near-death consciousness. In this physical state, the affected person will obey to anything, often being enslaved by the attacker.  The word ‘zombie’ actually comes from Haitian French due to this practice. Stay tuned for part two, coming soon!

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