Country Summary - Haiti

Country Summary - Haiti

Haiti: Haiti is bordered to the east by the Dominican Republic, which covers the rest of Hispaniola, to the south and west by the Caribbean, and to the north by the Atlantic Ocean.


Background:  Haiti became the world’s first black-led republic and the first independent Caribbean state when it threw off French colonial control and slavery in the early 19th Century. However, gang violence has surged in Haiti – particularly after the July 2021 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, which created a power vacuum – and the country’s virtually non-existent government system has made stemming attacks more difficult.  “We are dealing with this really new type of migration which are these Haitians coming from mainly Brazil and Chile,” said Roberto Velasco, the chief officer for North America at Mexico’s foreign ministry. “They are mainly looking for jobs, they come from third countries, so repatriation is difficult.”

Language: Haitian Creole (Kweyol, or Kreyol) and French are the official languages. Creole is normally used in daily life, and French—the second language of perhaps one-tenth of the people—is used in more formal circumstances. However, written Creole is not widely accepted, because the school system retains French as the main language of instruction.


COMMON PHRASES in Haitian Creole

Hello – bonjou, Welcome – byenvini, How are you? – Kijan ou ye?, What’s your name? – Kijan ou rele?

Thank you – Mèsi anpil, Reply to thank you – Pa gen pwoblèm, Goodbye –adio



  • Greetings: Personal greetings are very important to Haitians. When entering a room or joining a group, a person is expected to physically greet each individual. Haitian men usually shake hands, women throw kisses when meeting a new acquaintance. Everyone else, from relatives to friends and casual acquaintances, receives a kiss on each cheek.


    • Food: Staple foods include beans, rice, sweet potatoes, bananas and plantains, corn (maize), cassava, and taro (a tropical tuber locally known as malangá). However, many of Haiti’s urban poor have difficulty obtaining basic foodstuffs and adequate amounts of potable water. Whenever resources permit, Haitians prepare food with locally grown spices, including thyme, anise, oregano, black pepper, and cloves. Almost every street corner has a stall selling fritay (fried pieces of pork, fish, or plantain) or shaved ice flavoured with sweet cordials.
  • Religion:

Suggested Activities:

  • Haiti Cuisine –  One of the biggest influences on Haitian cuisine is the culture and food of West Africa. This African culinary influence is especially present in the various vegetable stews of Haiti. These stews are a vibrant fusion, combining West African, Caribbean, and European vegetables and ingredients. Haitian vegetable stews range from okra and mushrooms to lalo, a leafy vegetable with a rich spinach flavor. Meat or seafood is sometimes added to stews with beef as the most popular, although goat, crab or pork are also common. Certain special occasion stews will also feature a combination of meats, such as Traditional Haitian Games and Sports
  • Chay Pwason, or “Fish Hunting,” is a traditional Haitian game played by children and adults alike. The game involves participants chasing each other while attempting to grab a piece of cloth or a small object representing a fish. The goal is to capture the “fish” without being caught by the other players. This game is a great way for Haitians to bond with their family and friends while also getting some exercise.
  • Bèt is a traditional Haitian card game passed down through generations. It is played with a standard deck of cards and is similar to the American game of Poker. The game aims to have the highest-ranking hand at the end of the betting rounds. Bèt is often played during social gatherings and is a fun and competitive way for Haitians to spend their leisure time.
  • Soccer, or football as it is known in many countries, is one of the most popular sports in Haiti. The sport is a source of national pride, as Haiti has participated in international soccer events, including the FIFA World Cup.
  • Music and Dance – Kompa is a music genre that originated in Haiti in the 1950s. It is a combination of African, French, and Spanish influences, and it is an essential part of Haitian cultural identity. Dancing to Kompa music is a favorite pastime for many Haitians, with specific dance steps and movements accompanying the music’s distinctive rhythm.

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