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  • You know, I've actually been to Haiti.

  • Funny story: I was the only one in my mission group that didn't take any shots or medications and I ended up being the only one that didn't get sick.

  • [DEADLY SILENCE]

  • ♫♫♫♫

  • It's time to learn geography...NOW‼♫

  • Hey everyone, I'm your host Barby.

  • Haiti is like the smallest country with the most intense history.

  • Seriously. This little guy, barely larger than the size of Israel (including the West Bank and Gaza)

  • essentially changed the entire face of western society.

  • Lots to talk about, so let's just jump in.

  • POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY

  • Ah, Haiti !

  • You're like a candle in a hurricane that just won't be put out !

  • First of all:

  • Haiti is located in the western third island of Hispaniola,

  • shared with the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean Sea.

  • Just east of Cuba and Jamaica, west of Puerto Rico and south of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

  • At its narrowest point Haiti is only about 32 kilometers wide along the border with the DR.

  • The country is divided into 10 departments

  • and the capital, Port-au-Prince, located just at the beginning of the Tiburon Peninsula,

  • or this long narrow landmass protruding into the sea.

  • Speaking of which,

  • because of the way the country is shaped,

  • Haiti actually has the second longest coastline in the Caribbean after Cuba.

  • People say Haiti is shaped like a horseshoe...

  • However, I personally believe it looks more like a deformed, anorexic Pacman, trying to eat one of those yellow pellet things, just the yellow pellet thing is also anorexic

  • The largest cities outside of the Port-au-Prince area would be Cap-Haïtien and Gonaïves.

  • And the country's busiest and only two international airports:

  • Port-au-Prince, Toussaint Louverture International

  • and Cap-Haïtien interestly named Hugo Chavez International airport.

  • They made a deal with the Venezuelians, yada-yada, they named it after the guy.

  • There are six main islands:

  • the largest one, Gonâve, Île-à-vache, 2 Cayamites islands, Grande Caye, and Tortuga island

  • which used to be a pirate headquarters that hosted "The Brethren of the Coast": an international pirate community.

  • Yeah, Johnny Depp and the crew were not too far off from the truth.

  • Honestly, I stopped watching those movies after the third one

  • I mean, I get it:

  • Squid face wants revenge and Keira Knightley becomes the king. Done.

  • Stop adding more plotlines.

  • Otherwise, the only dispute they have is with the US over this little guy, Navassa Island.

  • off the south-western coast.

  • The border with DR is marked off by a series of river systems

  • Like the Libon in the center

  • Or the pleasantly named Massacre River in the North.

  • And a long stretch of the 45 highway that both countries share

  • so on either side you can view a different country.

  • The three main road entrances into the DR are:

  • Anse-à-Pitres, in the south, the 8th highway along lake Étang Saumâtre, and the 6th highway entering into Dajabon in the North.

  • Otherwise, some notable sites might also include places like the Sans-Souci Palace ruins,

  • the Nèg Mawon Statue of the unknown slave,

  • the Marché en fer (or the iron market),

  • The MUPANAH Haitien National Museum,

  • Fort Jacques,

  • The Atis Rezistans contemporary sculpture museum that uses real human bones with metal,

  • The Jubilee Voodoo Monument, in Anse-à-Foleur

  • and the crown jewel of the country, Citadelle La Ferrière, the largest fortress in the western hemisphere, built by 20.000 people to defend against the French.

  • In addition, there are surprisingly beautiful beaches all over, but that info belongs in the next segment.

  • Without further ado!

  • PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY

  • Now Haiti gets a lot of flack for its land controversies and we will explain why in a little bit.

  • First of all...

  • Haiti is the most mountainous country in the Caribbean

  • with numerous chains and massifs defining the interior structure of the land

  • You have the seven main belts

  • The Massif Nord, the Montaignes Noir,

  • the Center Plateau, The Chaine de Mathiheux,

  • the Chaine de Trou D'eau,

  • Not Trudeau, Trou D'eau.

  • There's a difference.

  • The Massif de la Hotte, and the Chaine de la Selle

  • where the tallest mountain Pic la Selle can be found.

  • Only the North Massif and South Massif on the Tiburon Peninsula retain Haiti's concentrated rainforests

  • where you can find the national animal: the Hispaniola Trogon

  • Whereas the rest of the country is mostly drier and sparsely forested mountain terrain.

  • This is partially because for the longest time, Haiti has been dealing with a huge deforestation problem.

  • About 60% of the population's domestic energy production is still heavily dependent on charcoal.

  • Most media outlets get Haiti's forest cover percentage drastically incorrect.

  • Some sighting it as low as 2%.

  • Ok, that's like less than United Arab Emirates.

  • Seriously, mainstream media. Get your act together!

  • The point is, whatever the actual percentage is,

  • you can still see trees in Haiti.

  • And in the worst parts, it's more like

  • grassy hills with patchy tree clusters

  • instead of dry desolate mounds of dirt.

  • Nonetheless, deforestation has caused erosion and flooding problems

  • all over the country in the past century.

  • Add with that, pesky hurricanes and the occasional earthquake

  • and BAM! You have the country with the worst luck in the Americas.

  • This is because Haiti

  • (and even more unfortunately the capital Port-au-Prince)

  • lies directly on the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault Zone,

  • a lateral, shifting fault which is part of the Caribbean tectonic plate

  • that grinds against the North American plate.

  • Worst possible position ever! But hey, I feel you Haiti.

  • I live close to the San Andreas fault and we're due

  • for a big one that will basically kill everyone. So, high five!

  • These fault lines are also pretty much the reasons why

  • the largest lake Lac Azuei or Étang Sumâtra (the twin lake of the DR's Enriquillo) was formed.

  • Both are saline, brackish water lakes that harbor

  • flamingos, crocodiles,

  • and flamingos that the crocodiles feed off of.

  • Otherwise, the longest river in Haiti and all of Hispaniola, the Artibonite River,

  • starting in the DR until it empties into the Gulf of Gonâve

  • The Plaine de l'Arbonite is the most important area for crops,

  • where most of Haiti's agriculture comes from.

  • However, most of their economy is actually driven by textiles, not food crops.

  • About 2/3 of the population don't even have formal jobs.

  • Most people make income under the table, or free lance, or day labor gigs.

  • Remittance money from family members abroad also fuels about 20% of the national GDP alone.

  • Speaking of that, Haiti is known for having some really good food.

  • Like, I know you guys are in poverty, but man when you have food, you know how to cook it!

  • *Gasp* Did he just make a poverty joke?

  • Yes I did because it was used lightly based off of statistical data

  • that was not grounded on my opinion and not used for the purpose of defamation.

  • Amazing foods like:

  • Tonmtonm,

  • Poul ak nwa,

  • Cassava bread,

  • Griyo

  • and the disputable national dish Soup Joumou or Pumpkin soup.

  • Also, around Ft Dimanche, you can find the famous dirt cookies made of dried clay

  • originally used as a cheap food source to help people get minerals,

  • even though they kinda really offer little nutrition.

  • Also Haitian Geograpeeps, is it true? Do you guys really make spaghetti shakes?

  • Rapid fire round! Other notable points of interest include...

  • The Grotte Marie-Jeanne Caves,

  • The Bassin Bleu beach,

  • Labadee,

  • various waterfalls like Bassin Zim,

  • Saut Matherine,

  • and the Haut Saut D'eau waterfalls where there is a yearly Voodoo pilgrimage

  • where the believers ask Virgin Mary of Mt. Carmel and her Voodoo counterpart Erzulie for healing.

  • Yeah you heard that last part right.

  • I know you're dying to hear more about the Voodoo stuff.

  • Well, you're in luck because now we're gonna transition into...

  • DEMOGRAPHICS

  • Haiti was once called "The Pearl of the Carribean" as it was the richest part of the French empire.

  • Today, things look a little different.

  • First of all...

  • Haiti has just under 11 million people and is the 3rd most populous country in the Caribbean.

  • About 95% of the country is ethnically black

  • and the remaining 5% is mostly made up of mixed and white Haitians, mostly of French descent.

  • They also use the Haitian Gourde as their currency,

  • they use the Type A, B American style plug outlets,

  • and they drive on the right side of the road.

  • But be careful though because Haitians also use the word "dollar" to refer to 5 Gourdes,

  • NOT an American Dollar. It's a little confusing.

  • Now let's get to the fun stuff! What exactly makes a Haitian person so special

  • and how did Haiti become to what it is today?

  • This is a very long, winded question rooted in history, but in the quickest way I can put it...

  • Tainos,

  • Columbus,

  • French,

  • Slaves,

  • Voodoo prophecy,

  • Revolt,

  • French masters killed,

  • Independence,

  • then France was like: "Pay a fine or avoid war."

  • They agreed.

  • Crazy dictators

  • Even temporary monarchs arise,

  • they attack, colonize, and heavily tax the DR for a short period of time.

  • DR gets angry and fights back.

  • Haiti resorts to paying debt mostly in trees.

  • Finally in the 40's they finish paying off the debt and the economy is absolutely decimated at this point.

  • Essentially, Haiti was not only just the first black republic,

  • but also the first nation state to have a successful slave revolt,