Haiti Fast Facts
A small country in Central America, with just two million people (about 4% of the population) and nine communes. Haiti is roughly the size of Michigan and New York States. According to the CIA, it is the poorest country in Latin America, with a per capita income of $1,600. It is also one of the poorest countries in the world.
The 2010 census estimated that over 13 million people live in poverty in the nation of over 8.5 million. The most recent CIA data for 2010 reports that the per capita gross national income was $2,600 (not including oil). Although the average standard of living in the country has been described as “high,” Haitians have lived under military coup, genocide, and political turmoil that has caused widespread poverty: 80% have no regular income, a large number have incomes of less than $1 per day, and the majority of households receive less than $2 per day.
While there are strong reasons to believe that Haiti’s poverty is largely caused by the country’s dependency on foreign aid (it is in the middle of the world’s poorest nation in terms of government spending, with about 1/3 of all resources going to the military), the most severe form of poverty is often the consequence of natural disasters like the earthquake that struck Port Lévis in 2010.
Gross National Income (GNI) – Total Income (includes private income, public spending, and private transfers) Source: World Bank, 2011
Poverty Is High
The CIA estimates that about 82% of Haitians live in poverty, which is the highest rate in Latin America and a bit higher than the world average. It is also higher than all but one of the 50 poorest countries on the planet, ahead of countries like Bangladesh, Kenya, and the Czech Republic, and slightly ahead of countries with similar populations such as Colombia, Mexico, and Russia. At its peak, Haiti had a per capita GNI of about $1,600, but a drop in income would lead to a massive decrease in living standards and increase the probability of falling below the poverty level.
The most recent CIA factbook reports that Haiti’s per capita GNI was $2,600 in 2010. The average for countries in Latin America was estimated to be $1,880,