On the island of Hispaniola, one-third of the western sector is Haiti, and the other two-thirds on the east is called the Dominican Republic. The island was populated at about 500000 when Columbus landed on the island of Hispaniola. Later, the native population was destroyed, largely due to the lack of ability to fight against smallpox, and the population was reduced to 3000. These remaining people had to become part of African slaves who were imported to provide cheap labor to harvest sugarcane. The Spanish who exploited the land for sugarcane production later found Mexico, Peru and Bolivia, with richer soils and silver mines. The French traders occupied the western sector of Hispaniola. The slave trade was carried over by the French from 1785, and the number of slaves were around 700000 in Haiti, and 30000 in the Dominican Republic. In 1804, the slaves revolted and defeated the French army, and renamed their island as Haiti. Then these Haitian revolutionists destroyed the plantation and made them into small farms.
Earlier, the island was 28 percent forested, and now Haiti is only 1 percent forested. In the 18th century, the land of Haiti was gradually cleaned for timber. This led to soil erosion and low agricultural productivity, which in turn caused the country to become economically weak. Even today people over there cut timber for growing gardens, for cooking, and for constructing huts. They lack electricity and gas, and this is causing them to cut timber for their daily necessities. Although they obtained independence in 1804, they did not have a proper political scenario. Out of the 22 presidents they had from 1843 to 1915, 21 were assassinated and pushed out of office. They did not have a proper government that bothered about their welfare. In 1957, Papa Doc Duvalier was a dictator in Haiti, and tortured the people. His son, ‘baby doc’, controlled the government until 1986. Recently, President Aristide was thrown out of office for corruption.
Their inner problems, bad infrastructure, lack of government support, and lack of ability to export to other nations, has left Haitians poor.