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Languages of Haiti

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Title: Languages of Haiti  
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Subject: Americas, Index of Haiti-related articles
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Languages of Haiti

Although Haiti averages approximately 255 people per square kilometer (650 per sq. mi.), its population is concentrated most heavily in urban areas, coastal plains, and valleys. About 95% of Haitians are of predominantly West African descent.[1] The remainder of the population is primarily mulattoes. Hispanic residents in Haiti are mostly Cuban and Dominican. About two thirds of the Haitian population live in rural areas.

Although there was a national census taken in Haiti in 2003, much of that data has not been released to the public. Several demographic studies, including those by social work researcher Athena Kolbe, have shed light on the current status of urban residents. In 2006, households averaged 4.5 members. The median age was 25 years with a mean average age of 27 years. People aged 15 and younger counted for roughly a third of the population. Overall, 52.7 percent of the population was female.[2]


Taíno was the major pre-Columbian language in the region now known as Haiti. One of the country's official languages is Haitian Creole, a French-based creole with African influences, as well as minor Spanish and Taíno influences. French is the other official language. Spanish, though not official, is spoken by a growing amount of the population, and is spoken more frequently near the border with the Dominican Republic. English is increasingly spoken among the young and in the business sector.


The state religion is Roman Catholicism which 80-85% of the population professes. 15-20% of Haitians practice Protestantism. A significant percentage of the population also practice Vodou traditions approximately 20-25%, but these claims are denied by a significant amount of the strict Roman Catholic populace. Haitians that do practice both faiths however tend to see no conflict in these African-rooted beliefs co-existing with the Roman Catholic faith. A small population also practice Islam.


Although public education is free, private and parochial schools provide around 75% of educational programs offered. Less than 65% of children of primary school age are actually enrolled. At the secondary level, the figure drops to 55%. Of those enrolled in primary school, 63% will complete it. On average, it takes 16 years to produce a single graduate of the 6-year cycle. Though Haitians place a high value on education, few can afford to send their children to secondary school. Remittances sent by Haitians living abroad are important in paying educational costs.

In the metropolitan area of Port-au-Prince, home to 2.21 million of Haiti's 8.5 million people, only 23 percent of adults have completed secondary school with 16 percent passing the state graduation exam.[2] More than half (53.5 percent) of children aged 5–17 do not attend school.[2]


In 2004, 300,000 children were restavecs, which are somewhat like indentured service for minors. This was done by their parents in order that the children would be fed.[3]

Post-quake fertility

Disasters often cause human populations to increase long term, rather than decrease, by way of increased fertility exceeding the deaths caused by the initial disaster, as shell-shocked mothers replace every lost child with more than needed. In Haiti's case, the fertility rate nearly tripled after the quake, and is likely to remain elevated (above pre-quake levels) for long after.[4]


Large-scale emigration, principally to the United States, and Canada (predominantly to Quebec, with other areas of the country) - but also to Cuba, other areas of Europe and the Americas (like Argentina) such as France (with French Guiana), Spain, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Ireland; and Venezuela, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and other Caribbean neighbors - has created what Haitians refer to as the Eleventh Department or the Diaspora. About one of every six Haitians live abroad.

CIA World Factbook demographic statistics

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook (as of March 3rd, 2011).[5] Population: 9,719,932 (2011 est.)

Age structure: (2010 est.)

0–14 years: 38.1% (male 1,735,917; female 1,704,383)
15–64 years: 58.5% (male 2,621,059; female 2,665,447)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 120,040; female 188,690)

Median age: (2010 est.)

Total: 21.1 years
Male: 20.9 years
Female: 21.4 years

Population growth rate: 0.787% (2011 est.)

Birth rate: 24.4 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death rate: 8.21 deaths/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Net migration rate: -8.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Sex ratio: (2010 est.)

At birth: 1.011 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15–64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.62 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.98 male(s)/female

Infant mortality rate: (2011 est.)

Total: 54.02 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 58.16 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 49.83 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth: (2011 est.)

Total population: 62.17 years
Male: 60.84 years
Female: 63.53 years

Total fertility rate: 3.07 children born/woman (2011 est.)


Noun: Haitian(s)
Adjective: Haitian
Ethnic groups: Black 95%, Mixed and White 5%

Religions: Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%), none 1%, other 3%

Languages: French (official), Haitian Creole (official), Spanish (non-official)

Literacy: (2008 est. by IHSI)[6]

Definition: Age 15 and over that can read and write
Total population: 52.9%
Male: 54.8%
Female: 51.2%


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