Traditionally, there has been a very small, educated urban-based elite, but in the last thirty years a large and rapidly increasing number of educated citizens have come from relatively humble rural origins, although seldom from the poorest social strata. Still wondering as how would they break free as a nation from the economy pitfalls Thank you for the wealth of practical and honest information. I don't believe that a lot of people think of that country as the home of a lot of Haitian immigrants in the U. Traditional rural staples are sweet potatoes, manioc, yams, corn, rice, pigeon peas, cowpeas, bread, and coffee.
The only ethnic subdivision is that of the syrians , the early twentieth-century Levantine emigrants who have been absorbed into the commercial elite but often self-identify by their ancestral origins. Haitians refer to all outsiders, even dark-skinned outsiders of African ancestry, as blan "white". In the neighboring Dominican Republic, despite the presence of over a million Haitian farm workers, servants, and urban laborers, there exists intense prejudice against Haitians.
In , the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the massacre of an estimated fifteen to thirty-five thousand Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. The most famous architectural accomplishments are King Henri Christophe's postindependence San Souci palace, which was almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake in the early s, and his mountaintop fortress, the Citadelle Laferrière, which survives largely intact.
The contemporary rural landscape is dominated by houses that vary in style from one region to another. Most are single-story, two-room shacks, usually with a front porch.
In the dry, treeless areas, houses are constructed of rock or wattle and daub with mud or lime exteriors. In other regions, walls are made from the easily hewn native palm; in still other areas, particularly in the south, houses are made of Hispaniola pine and local hardwoods.
When the owner can afford it, the outside of a house is painted in an array of pastel colors, mystic symbols are often painted on the walls, and the awnings are fringed with colorful hand-carved trimming. In cities, early twentieth century bourgeoisie, foreign entrepreneurs, and the Catholic clergy blended French and southern United States Victorian architectural styles and took the rural gingerbread house to its artistic height, building fantastic multicolored brick and timber mansions with tall double doors, steep roofs, turrets, cornices, extensive balconies, and intricately carved trim.
These exquisite structures are fast disappearing as a result of neglect and fires. Today one increasingly finds modern block and cement houses in both provincial villages and urban areas. Craftsmen have given these new houses traditional gingerbread qualities by using embedded pebbles, cut stones, preformed cement relief, rows of shaped balusters, concrete turrets, elaborately contoured cement roofing, large balconies, and artistically welded wrought-iron trimming and window bars reminiscent of the carved fringe that adorned classic gingerbread houses.
Food in Daily Life. Nutritional deficits are caused not by inadequate knowledge but by poverty. Most residents have a sophisticated understanding of dietary needs, and there is a widely known system of indigenous food categories that closely approximates modern, scientifically informed nutritional categorization.
Rural Haitians are not subsistence farmers. Peasant women typically sell much of the family harvest in regional open-air market places and use the money to buy household foods. Rice and beans are considered the national dish and are the most commonly eaten meal in urban areas. Traditional rural staples are sweet potatoes, manioc, yams, corn, rice, pigeon peas, cowpeas, bread, and coffee.
More recently, a wheat-soy blend from the United States has been incorporated into the diet. Important treats include sugarcane, mangoes, sweetbread, peanut and sesame seed clusters made from melted brown sugar, and candies made from bittermanioc flour. People make a crude but highly nutritious sugar paste called rapadou. Haitians generally eat two meals a day: The afternoon meal always includes beans or a bean sauce, and there is usually a small amount of poultry, fish, goat, or, less commonly, beef or mutton, typically prepared as a sauce with a tomato paste base.
Fruits are prized as between-meal snacks. Non-elite people do not necessarily have community or family meals, and individuals eat wherever they are comfortable. A snack customarily is eaten at night before one goes to sleep. Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Festive occasions such as baptismal parties, first communions, and marriages include the mandatory Haitian colas, cake, a spiced concoction of domestic rum kleren , and a thick spiked drink made with condensed milk called kremass.
The middle class and the elite mark the same festivities with Western sodas, Haitian rum Babouncourt , the national beer Prestige , and imported beers. Pumpkin soup bouyon is eaten on New Year's day. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world.
It is a nation of small farmers, commonly referred to as peasants, who work small private landholdings and depend primarily on their own labor and that of family members. There are no contemporary plantations and few concentrations of land. Although only 30 percent of the land is considered suitable for agriculture, more than 40 percent is worked.
Real income for the average family has not increased in over twenty years and has declined precipitously in rural areas. Since the s, the country has become heavily dependent on food imports—primarily rice, flour, and beans—from abroad, particularly from the United States. Other major imports from the United States are used material goods such as clothes, bicycles, and motor vehicles. The Haitian has become primarily domestic, and production is almost entirely for domestic consumption.
A vigorous internal marketing system dominates the economy and includes trade not only in agricultural produce and livestock but also in homemade crafts. Land Tenure and Property. Land is relatively evenly distributed. Most holdings are small approximately three acres , and there are very few landless households.
Most property is privately held, though there is a category of land known as State Land that, if agriculturally productive, is rented under a long-term lease to individuals or families and is for all practical purposes private. Unoccupied land frequently is taken over by squatters. There is a vigorous land market, as rural households buy and sell land. Sellers of land generally need cash to finance either a life crisis event healing or burial ritual or a migratory venture.
Land is typically bought, sold, and inherited without official documentation no government has ever carried out a cadastral survey. Although there are few land titles, there are informal tenure rules that give farmers relative security in their holdings.
Until recently, most conflicts over land were between members of the same kin group. With the departure of the Duvalier dynasty and the emergence of political chaos, some conflicts over land have led to bloodshed between members of different communities and social classes.
There is a thriving internal market that is characterized at most levels by itinerant female traders who specialize in domestic items such as produce, tobacco, dried fish, used clothing, and livestock. There are small gold and copper reserves. For a short time the Reynolds Metals Company operated a bauxite mine, but it was closed in because of conflict with the government.
Offshore assembly industries owned principally by U. There is one cement factory—most of the cement used in the country is imported—and a single flour mill.
In the s, the country exported wood, sugarcane, cotton and coffee, but by the s, even the production of coffee, long the major export, had been all but strangled through excessive taxation, lack of investment in new trees, and bad roads. Recently, coffee has yielded to mangoes as the primary export. Other exports include cocoa and essential oils for the cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
Haiti has become a major transshipment point for illegal drug trafficking. Imports come predominantly from the United States and include used clothing, mattresses, automobiles, rice, flour, and beans. Cement is imported from Cuba and South America. There is a large degree of informal specialization in both rural and urban areas.
At the highest level are craftsmen known as bosses, including carpenters, masons, electricians, welders, mechanics, and tree sawyers. Specialists make most craft items, and there are others who castrate animals and climb coconut trees. Within each trade there are subdivisions of specialists. There has always been a wide economic gulf between the masses and a small, wealthy elite and more recently, a growing middle class.
Social status is well marked at all levels of society by the degree of French words and phrases used in speech, Western dress patterns, and the straightening of hair. Symbols of Social Stratification. The wealthiest people tend to be lighter-skinned or white. Some scholars see this apparent color dichotomy as evidence of racist social division, but it also can be explained by historical circumstances and the immigration and intermarrying of the light-skinned elite with white merchants from Lebanon, Syria, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, other Caribbean countries, and, to a far lesser extent, the United States.
Many presidents have been dark-skinned, and dark-skinned individuals have prevailed in the military. Both music and painting are popular forms of artistic expression in Haiti.
Haiti is a republic with a bicameral legislature. It is divided into departments that are subdivided into arrondissments, communes, commune sectionals, and habitations. There have been numerous constitutions. The legal system is based on the Napoleonic Code, which excluded hereditary privileges and aimed to provide equal rights to the population, regardless of religion or status.
Leadership and Political Officials. Political life was dominated between and by the initially popular, but subsequently brutal, dictator François "Papa Doc" Duvalier, who was succeeded by his son Jean-Claude "Baby Doc".
The Duvalier reign ended after popular uprising throughout the country. In , five years and eight interim governments later, a popular leader, Jean Bertrand Aristide, won the presidency with an overwhelming majority of the popular vote. Aristide was deposed seven months later in a military coup.
The United Nations then imposed an embargo on all international trade with Haiti. In , threatened with the invasion by United States forces, the military junta relinquished control to an international peacekeeping force. The Aristide government was reestablished, and since an ally of Aristide, Rene Preval, has ruled a government rendered largely ineffective by political gridlock. Social Problems and Control. Since independence, vigilante justice has been a conspicuous informal mechanism of the justice system.
Mobs have frequently killed criminals and abusive authorities. With the breakdown in state authority that has occurred over the last fourteen years of political chaos, both crime and vigilantism have increased. The security of life and property, particularly in urban areas, has become the most challenging issue facing the people and the government.
The infrastructure is in a very poor condition. International efforts to change this situation have been under way since , but the country may be more underdeveloped today than it was one hundred years ago.
International food aid, predominantly from the United States, supplies over ten percent of the country's needs. Per capita, there are more foreign nongovernmental organizations and religious missions predominantly U. Division of Labor by Gender. In both rural and urban areas, men monopolize the job market.
Only men work as jewelers, construction workers, general laborers, mechanics, and chauffeurs. Most doctors, teachers, and politicians are men, although women have made inroads into the elite professions, particularly medicine. Virtually all pastors are male, as are most school directors. Men also prevail, although not entirely, in the professions of spiritual healer and herbal practitioner. In the domestic sphere, men are primarily responsible for the care of livestock and gardens.
Women are responsible for domestic activities such as cooking, housecleaning and washing clothes by hand. Rural women and children are responsible for securing water and firewood, women help with planting and harvesting. The few wage-earning Haitians expect to haggle when making a purchase. In marketing, women dominate most sectors, particularly in goods such as tobacco, garden produce, and fish.
The most economically active women are skillful entrepreneurs on whom other market women heavily depend. Usually specialists in a particular commodity, these marchann travel between rural and urban areas, buying in bulk at one market and redistributing the goods, often on credit, to lower-level female retailers in other markets.
The Relative Status of Women and Men. Rural women are commonly thought by outsiders to be severely repressed. Urban middle-class and elite women have a status equivalent to that of women in developed countries, but among the impoverished urban majority, the scarcity of jobs and the low pay for female domestic services have led to widespread promiscuity and the abuse of women.
However, rural women play a prominent economic role in the household and family. In most areas, men plant gardens, but women are thought of as the owners of harvests and, because they are marketers, typically control the husband's earnings. Marriage is expected among the elite and the middle classes, but less than forty percent of the non-elite population marries an increase compared with the past resulting from recent Protestant conversions.
However, with or without legal marriage, a union typically is considered complete and gets the respect of the community when a man has built a house for the woman and after the first child has been born. When marriage does occur, it is usually later in a couple's relationship, long after a household has been established and the children have begun to reach adulthood. Couples usually live on property belonging to the man's parents.
Living on or near the wife's family's property is common in fishing communities and areas where male migration is very high.
Although it is not legal, at any given time about 10 percent of men have more than a single wife, and these relationships are acknowledged as legitimate by the community. The women live with their children in separate homesteads that are provided for by the man. Extra residential mating relationships that do not involve the establishment of independent households are common among wealthy rural and urban men and less fortunate women.
Incest restrictions extend to first cousins. There is no brideprice or dowry, although women generally are expected to bring certain domestic items into the union and men must provide a house and garden plots. Households typically are made up of nuclear family members and adopted children or young relatives.
Elderly widows and widowers may live with their children and grandchildren. The husband is thought of as the owner of the house and must plant gardens and tend livestock. However, the house typically is associated with the woman, and a sexually faithful woman cannot be expelled from a household and is thought of as the manager of the property and the decision maker regarding use of funds from the sale of garden produce and household animals.
Men and women inherit equally from both parents. Upon the death of a landowner, land is divided in equal portions among the surviving children. In practice, land often is ceded to specific children in the form of a sales transaction before a parent dies. Kinship is based on bilateral affiliation: One is equally a member of one's father's and mother's kin groups.
Kinship organization differs from that of the industrial world with regard to ancestors and godparentage. Ancestors are given ritual attention by the large subset of people who serve the lwa. They are believed to have the power to influence the lives of the living, and there are certain ritual obligations that must be satisfied to appease them.
Godparentage is ubiquitous and derives from Catholic tradition. The parents invite a friend or acquaintance to sponsor a child's baptism. This sponsorship creates a relationship not only between the child and the godparents but also between the child's parents and the godparents.
These individuals have ritual obligations toward one another and address each other with the gender-specific terms konpè if the person addressed is male and komè ,or makomè if the person addressed is female , meaning "my coparent. In some areas infants are given purgatives immediately after birth, and in some regions the breast is withheld from newborns for the first twelve to forty-eight hours, a practice that has been linked to instruction from misinformed Western-trained nurses.
Liquid supplements usually are introduced within the first two weeks of life, and food supplements often are begun thirty days after birth and sometimes earlier.
Infants are fully weaned at eighteen months. Child Rearing and Education. Very young children are indulged, but by the age of seven or eight most rural children engage in serious work.
Children are important in retrieving household water and firewood and helping to cook and clean around the house. Children look after livestock, help their parents in the garden, and run errands.
Parents and guardians are often harsh disciplinarians, and working-age children may be whipped severely. Children are expected to be respectful to adults and obedient to family members, even to siblings only a few years older than themselves. They are not allowed to talk back or stare at adults when being scolded.
They are expected to say thank you and please. If a child is given a piece of fruit or bread, he or she must immediately begin breaking the food and distributing it to other children. The offspring of elite families are notoriously spoiled and are reared from an early age to lord it over their less fortunate compatriots.
Tremendous importance and prestige are attached to education. Most rural parents try to send their children at least to primary school, and a child who excels and whose parents can afford the costs is quickly exempted from the work demands levied on other children. Fosterage restavek is a system in which children are given to other individuals or families for the purpose of performing domestic services. There is an expectation that the child will be sent to school and that the fostering will benefit the child.
The most important ritual events in the life of a child are baptism and the first communion, which is more common among the middle class and the elite. Both events are marked by a celebration including Haitian colas, a cake or sweetened bread rolls, sweetened rum beverages, and, if the family can afford it, a hot meal that includes meat.
Traditionally, there has been a very small, educated urban-based elite, but in the last thirty years a large and rapidly increasing number of educated citizens have come from relatively humble rural origins, although seldom from the poorest social strata. These people attend medical and engineering schools, and may study at overseas universities.
There is a private university and a small state university in Port-au-Prince, including a medical school. Both have enrollments of only a few thousand students.
Many offspring of middle-class and The carnival that precedes Lent is the most popular Haitian festival. When entering a yard Haitians shout out onè "honor" , and the host is expected to reply respè "respect". Visitors to a household never leave empty-handed or without drinking coffee, or at least not without an apology. Failure to announce a departure, is considered rude.
People feel very strongly about greetings, whose importance is particularly strong in rural areas, where people who meet along a path or in a village often say hello several times before engaging in further conversation or continuing on their way.
Men shake hands on meeting and departing, men and women kiss on the cheek when greeting, women kiss each other on the cheek, and rural women kiss female friends on the lips as a display of friendship. Young women do not smoke or drink alcohol of any kind except on festive occasions. Men typically smoke and drink at cockfights, funerals, and festivities but are not excessive in the consumption of alcohol. Men are more prone to smoke tobacco, particularly cigarettes, than to use snuff.
Men and especially women are expected to sit in modest postures. Even people who are intimate with one another consider it extremely rude to pass gas in the presence of others. Haitians say excuse me eskize-m when entering another person's space. Brushing the teeth is a universal practice. People also go to great lengths to bathe before boarding public buses, and it is considered proper to bathe before making a journey, even if this is to be made in the hot sun. Women and especially men commonly hold hands in public as a display of friendship; this is commonly mistaken by outsiders as homosexuality.
Women and men seldom show public affection toward the opposite sex but are affectionate in private. People haggle over anything that has to do with money, even if money is not a problem and the price has already been decided or is known. A mercurial demeanor is considered normal, and arguments are common, animated, and loud.
People of higher class or means are expected to treat those beneath them with a degree of impatience and contempt. In interacting with individuals of lower status or even equal social rank, people tend to be candid in referring to appearance, shortcomings, or handicaps. Violence is rare but once started often escalates quickly to bloodshed and serious injury.
The official state religion is Catholicism, but over the last four decades Protestant missionary activity has reduced the proportion of people who identify themselves as Catholic from over 90 percent in to less than 70 percent in Haiti is famous for its popular religion, known to its practitioners as "serving the lwa " but referred to by the literature and the outside world as voodoo vodoun.
This religious complex is a syncretic mixture of African and Catholic beliefs, rituals, and religious specialists, and its practitioners sèvitè continue to be members of a Catholic parish.
Long stereotyped by the outside world as "black magic," vodoun is actually a religion whose specialists derive most of their income from healing the sick rather than from attacking targeted victims.
Many people have rejected voodoo, becoming instead katolik fran "unmixed Catholics" who do not combine Catholicism with service to the lwa or levanjil , Protestants. The common claim that all Haitians secretly practice voodoo is inaccurate. Catholics and Protestants generally believe in the existence of lwa, but consider them demons to be avoided rather than family spirits to be served.
The percentage of those who explicitly serve the family lwa is unknown but probably high. Aside from the priests of the Catholic Church and thousands of Protestant ministers, many of them trained and supported by evangelical missions from the United States, informal religious specialists proliferate.
Females are viewed as having the same spiritual powers as males, though in practice there are more houngan than manbo. There are also bush priests pè savann who read specific Catholic prayers at funerals and other ceremonial occasions, and hounsi , initiated females who serve as ceremonial assistants to the houngan or manbo.
Rituals and Holy Places. People make pilgrimages to a series of holy sites. Those sites became popular in association with manifestations of particular saints and are marked by unusual geographic features such as the waterfall at Saut d'Eau, the most famous of sacred sites. Waterfalls and certain species of large trees are especially sacred because they are believed to be the homes of spirits and the conduits through which spirits enter the world of living humans. Death and the Afterlife.
Beliefs concerning the afterlife depend on the religion of the individual. Strict Catholics and Protestants believe in the existence of reward or punishment after death. Practitioners of voodoo assume that the souls of all the deceased go to an abode "beneath the waters," that is often associated with lafrik gine "L'Afrique Guinée," or Africa.
Concepts of reward and punishment in the afterlife are alien to vodoun. The moment of death is marked by ritual wailing among family members, friends, and neighbors. Funerals are important social events and involve several days of social interaction, including feasting and the consumption of rum. Family members come from far away to sleep at the house, and friends and neighbors congregate in the yard. Men play dominoes while the women cook.
Usually within the week but sometimes several years later, funerals are followed by the priè, nine nights of socializing and ritual. Burial monuments and other mortuary rituals are often costly and elaborate.
People are increasingly reluctant to be buried underground, preferring to be interred above ground in a kav , an elaborate multi chambered tomb that may cost more than the house in which the individual lived while alive. Expenditures on mortuary ritual have been increasing and have been interpreted as a leveling mechanism that redistributes resources in the rural economy.
Malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis, intestinal parasites, and sexually transmitted diseases take a toll on the population. Estimates of HIV among those ages twenty-two to forty-four years are as high as 11 percent, and estimates among prostitutes in the capital are as high as 80 percent.
There is less than one doctor per eight-thousand people. Medical facilities are poorly funded and understaffed, and most health care workers are incompetent. Life expectancy in was under fifty-one years. In the absence of modern medical care, an elaborate system of indigenous healers has evolved, including Women are typically responsible for household maintenance and marketing garden produce. People have tremendous faith in informal healing procedures and commonly believe that HIV can be cured.
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