The Caribbean country of Haiti is located on the island of Hispaniola and takes up about a third of the landmass of the island. Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere, due to its troubled and often violent history and a number of natural disasters that have had a deep impact on the country in the 21st century. Haiti has a rich cultural history, however, and though it still bears the scars of the 2010 earthquake, it is a beautiful land with many areas of stunning natural beauty to explore.
Haiti has a long and troubled history, with many revolutions and conflicts. After the native inhabitants of the island, the Taino Indians, were wiped out by the arrival of new diseases brought over by European settlers, Haiti became a French colony, with African slaves working in appalling conditions to grow sugar and coffee. After the 1791 slave revolt resulted in 13 years of brutal war, Haiti became the world’s first black republic, though as a result, it was made to pay brutal reparations to France, which forced the once rich country into crippling poverty.
Since then, the political situation in Haiti has remained unstable, with many coups, changes of government and periods of military rule. Since 2004, the country has been occupied by UN peacekeeping troops, and a large number of NGOs and development agencies who are hoping to bring some stability to Haiti.
There are two official languages in Haiti, which are French and Haitian Creole. While French is the official language of business and government in the country, Haitian Creole is spoken by practically the entire population, while less than half speaks French. Around 10 million people make up the population of Haiti, with the majority identifying themselves as Catholic.
Haiti has a warm, tropical climate, but it is also in the middle of the hurricane belt and therefore suffers from severe storms and potentially life-threatening weather between June and November each year. The country is also prone to instances of flooding and drought, along with earthquakes; the worst of these being the 2010 earthquake, which had a devastating impact on many areas of life in Haiti and is continuing to affect the country many years after.
It is only necessary for citizens of certain countries to have a visa in order to visit Haiti, these countries are: Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Panama. If people from these countries hold a valid 6 month visa from the US, Schengen and Canada can enter Haiti with no problem. Visitors from other countries can stay for up to three months without requiring any sort of visa or documentation.
For stays of more than 90 days, you will need to get a residence permit (Permis de Sejour) from the Haitian Department of Immigration and Emigration. Also note that different rules apply for expats that are in the country as members of NGOs or working as UN peacekeepers, and that you will need a work permit if you are planning on taking up a job in Haiti.