Haiti has experienced its fair share of inner turmoil, with civil wars and unrest. Given all that the country has been through, is Haiti a third-world country, or has it emerged out of the strife?
Based on factors such as economics, quality of life, poverty, and distribution of wealth, Haiti would be considered a third-world country or a low-income country. Haiti would also likely be classified as an underdeveloped country. There are no specific standards for these labels, so it’s hard to give a definitive classification, but Haiti is still trying to recover from years of conflict and poverty.
The country of Haiti was once prosperous, but foreign interference, internal struggles for power, and devastating natural disaster among other things have made it very difficult for Haiti to emerge from its informal third-world status.
Is Haiti A Third World Country?
Haiti could be classified as a third-world country based on the newer definition of the terms. When most think of the third world, they consider poverty levels, economic strength, quality of life, and levels of development, infrastructure, and technological advances. Based on these factors, Haiti would fall into this category.
Haiti has truly had a hard time implementing a safe and healthy political and economic structure. There have been numerous clashes amongst those in power and those who have been seeking power in the country. There have also been unsuccessful efforts from international forces trying to establish some order.
Outside of human-centered conflict, Haiti is prone to experiencing inclement weather events and natural disasters. The Caribbean island is unfortunately situated in a tough spot to avoid such storms. Not only has Haiti experienced devastating earthquakes and hurricanes, but the country frequently sees flooding and mudslides.
This inclement weather has had a strain on the country’s resources, even with receiving aid in times of crisis. Infrastructure and housing have not been built to withstand this strain, so it’s easy for extensive damage to leave Haitians in dire straits. Weather events have also brought harm to much of Haiti’s agriculture, which is one of their main sources of food and exports.
Is Haiti An Underdeveloped, Developing, Or Developed Country?
Haiti was once thriving before getting out from under colonial rule. Once it became an independent nation, trouble started coming to the surface. As much as the country has tried to get back on its feet, so many outside forces have made it difficult to accomplish much development in the country.
Haiti has also had some troubled relations with the United States. For a period of twenty years, the United States had a presence in the country in an effort to help the country develop, but it didn’t lead to anything tangible. The U.S. and Haiti still have ties, as the U.S. is responsible for supplying the country with various forms of foreign aid to help its citizens.
A lot of goods and service production that is commonly seen in developed countries is not present in Haiti. For instance, it’s very difficult for many Haitians to access clean drinking water, which unfortunately leads to a lot of otherwise preventable illnesses. The majority of food is either grown on farms or is imported from elsewhere.
Is Haiti A Low Income Or Middle Income Country?
Haiti would be considered a low-income country. The nation has had to rely on a lot of international aid to try and stay afloat, especially in the midst of some devastating natural disasters. Even with the vast amount of aid that has been sent to Haiti, there has been some mismanagement in terms of how that money has been utilized.
When Haiti chose to remove itself from France’s rule, it ended up having to pay reparations to France in order to stay independent. It was only then that France would cease to try and overtake Haiti. This ended up causing Haiti extreme financial strain. It took Haiti over 100 years to pay France the billions of dollars owed, making it impossible for Haiti to put finances into re-establishing.
The United States took Haiti by force in the early 1900s in an effort to try and implement a solid financial and governmental presence, but these efforts also didn’t go well. The U.S. forced many Haitians into forced labor and segregated much of the country among other atrocities. Haitians ended up fighting back against U.S. rule until Roosevelt finally withdrew forces in the 1930s.
Since then, there have been many people in power in Haiti, but not all this power was used for the betterment of the country and its people. There has been a lot of corruption and unrest within Haiti’s political system, making it difficult to make economics and income stability a priority.
The Economy In Haiti
The economic situation in Haiti has been dire for some time. At this point, it’s estimated that at least half of Haiti’s population lives under the poverty line as established by the World Bank.
There is not a lot of industry developed in Haiti. Agriculture and farming are two sources of income for the country, and farming is often the only reliable food source for Haitians outside of what’s imported from other countries.
Haiti does manufacture some goods that are sold to other countries, including sugar, textiles and clothing, flour, and cement. That said, they are quite behind in terms of receiving any kind of profit from their exports. The country is currently at a deficit when it comes to trade. There was some debt forgiveness in 2010 when Haiti experienced a terrifying earthquake, but their debt has risen once again since then.
There have been a lot of charitable efforts organized throughout the years to bring aid to Haiti, including non governmental aid, fundraisers, and the like. Unfortunately, there has been a major problem with mismanagement of this aid, with money going into the wrong hands and not to Haitians, who the aid was intended for.
There isn’t much opportunity for people to earn money in Haiti, as their lack of infrastructure and industry means there are less jobs available. Many Haitians will move to North America, France, or other Caribbean countries in order to find work or get an education.
Quality Of Life In Haiti
Despite efforts to get enough aid to Haiti to improve living conditions, mismanagement of this aid has led to an overwhelming majority of Haitians lacking access to safe drinking water or safe sanitation areas. A lot of the food grown in Haiti is used for trade to generate money into the country, so people have to rely on most of their food coming from imports.
When reviewing much of the research done to determine quality of life and happiness throughout the world, Haiti is one of the lowest ranking countries in the world in terms of the happiness of its people. It can also be difficult to find suitable work due to the inability for many to successfully obtain an education, though not for lack of trying.
The land now known as Haiti was the home of the Taino peoples, who were indigenous to the land. Europe decided to infiltrate the country and brought with them many terrible illnesses. As such, the Taino peoples were wiped out because of illness. European forces also decided to enslave many of the people in and around Haiti and exploit them for their resources.
The French came to part of the island of Haiti in the 1600s, but in the 1700s, the people in what is now known as Haiti had enough. There was a rebellion against colonization, and in 1804, Haiti was established as a country. This country was one where people could be free and persecution against Black Africans would no longer be tolerated.
Haiti is also a very populous country with over 11 million people calling it home. In terms of demographics, the overwhelming majority of people currently living in Haiti are young people in their 20s and 30s. Most of the people living in Haiti are descendants of Sub-Saharan Africa, while others are either of European, Arabic, or mixed heritage.
With such a diverse population and worldly influence, Haiti has a colorful culture full of expressionism such as art, music, and food. The Haitians also seem to be especially talented in the arts, with some incredible art, painting, and sculptural work coming out of the country.
Haiti is a beautiful country with very friendly people, but multiple attempts to turn Haiti into a colonial land have put the people in a bad position financially and politically. As such, Haiti could be considered either a third world or underdeveloped country depending on your definition of those two classifications.
Over many years, people have had to leave Haiti due to lack of opportunity, lack of safe living conditions, and in order to create a more hopeful future for themselves and their family. It’s uncertain what it will take to get Haiti more developed to emerge from third world status, but not all hope is lost.
About the author: Marta Kovachek graduated from the university with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.