The Republic of Haiti is a Caribbean country located in the Greater Antillean archipelago. The island in which Haiti is situated is actually referred to as Hispaniola and the island is actually shared between Haiti and the Dominican Republic (Haiti occupies the western part of the island and the Dominican Republic the eastern side).
Although it shares the area with the Dominican Republic, Haiti covers a large area, approximately 10,700 square miles. The population of Haiti is around 9.7 million people as of 2011. Unlike the majority of other Caribbean nations and islands Haiti has its own currency, the Haitian Gourd, instead of employing the East Caribbean Dollar which is tied to the US Dollar. The Haiti economy has seen turbulent times both in recent and past history.
Early History of Haiti Economy
The island was settled by the Taino Indians before it was discovered by Christopher Columbus in the latter part of the 15th century. The Spanish were interested in mining for gold on the island at this time and any natives that refused to work them would be killed or sold into slavery. Later on in the 17th century, Haiti became a haven for pirates and this led to the introduction of tobacco production on the island.
Later still in the 17th century, the demand for tobacco dwindled and settlers were removed from their homes to make way for sugar plantations. From this time onwards the island faced many years of war and battle from outside forces looking for control. Due to this the Haiti economy was quite turbulent and it wasn't until the early part of the 20th century that the exportation of sugar and cotton became really significant to the country.
In January 2010, the Haiti economy and the country as a whole suffered at the hands of a devastating earthquake. Not only did the 7.1 magnitude earthquake damage the majority of housing, services and utilities, it also claimed the lives of 316,000 people. The effect on the country was massive and fairly worrying as Haiti was already one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Indeed, the Haiti economy has seen little growth and development since the 1980s, certainly in comparison to other Caribbean nations and territories who are also considered to be poor. Before the earthquake in 2010, as much as 80% of the country's population lived below the poverty line, with a staggering 54% living in what is deemed to be abject poverty.
Recovery & Growth
Looking to the future, the Haiti economy will take a long time to recover but as the country received debt forgiveness to the tune of more than $1 billion Dollars in 2009 (as part of the Highly-Indebted Poor Country Initiative) it has a deficit of only $500 million Dollars to contend with now.
Despite the latest setback for the country, there is a little movement in the economy within several industries including the financial sector (the government receives remittances that equal nearly a quarter of the GDP rate) and the manufacturing industry (the apparel sector does well with nearly three quarters of the country's exports pertaining to this industry).