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Total population
(Approx. 9,233,935[1])
French, Haitian Creole
Catholicism, Haitian Vodou
Related ethnic groups
Haitian, West/Central Africans, Afro-Argentine, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Chilean, Afro-Costa Rican, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Dominican (Dominican Republic), Afro-Ecuadorian, Afro-Jamaican, Afro-Latin American, Afro-Mexican, Afro-Peruvian, Afro-Puerto Rican, Afro-Trinidadian, Afro-Uruguayan, Creoles, Louisiana Creoles, African-American

Afro-Haitians are Haitians of African descent. They are mostly the descendants of the African slaves who were brought to the island to work on plantations by the French.

As of 2013, people of African descent are the majority ethnic group in Haiti, accounting for 95% of the country's population. About 5% of the country is of mixed heritage, having partial African and European ancestry.[1]


Haiti's slaves came from areas of Africa extending from Senegal to the Congo. Most of the slaves came from West Africa, while others came from Central Africa (Kongo) and current Benin (Ewe,[2] Yoruba).[3] Other slaves of Haiti seem to stem from the current Senegal,[4] Guinea (imported by the Spanish since the sixteenth century and then by the French), Sierra Leone, Windward Coast, Ghana and South Africa (such as people of the Bara tribesmen of Madagascar, who arrived in Haiti in the eighteenth century).[5]


Main article: History of Haiti

A mid-eighteenth century, the colonial Haiti, occupied by France under a harsh system of slavery, had a population of 300,000 slaves and only 12,000 free people, mainly whites and mulattos.

The struggle for independence in Haiti was developed in several stages. In the first, the great landowners, slaves, traders and poor whites sympathized with the revolutionary movement that had broken out in the Metropolis and formed a local assembly, which demanded the end of colonial pact. In a second step, the free mulattos supported the revolution, thinking that it would get the white residents of the colony full equality of rights for free men, regardless of color. In 1790 white planters repressed claims of the free. And they had no choice but to ally with the rebels.

The August 14, 1791 would have occurred in Bois Caïman ceremony of priest Vodou Boukman, who is considered the starting point of the Haitian Revolution. In November of the same year, tens of thousands of slaves revolted. The long process of emancipation was by starring François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, who between 1793 and 1802 led the Haitian revolution shrewdly facing Spanish, English and French, until his capture, exile and death in France.

In 1803, Jean-Jacques Dessalines finally defeated the French troops in the Battle of Vertières and 1804 Haiti declared independence, proclaiming himself Emperor. After the defeat of the French, Haiti was forced to pay compensation to the former mother in exchange for recognition of their independence, which culminated to 1838. The French government blockade induced a Haitian sugar, so that the economy of the small republic was heavily damaged.

After a popular uprising in the eastern part of the island of The Spanish (Dominican Republic) in 1821, then under Spanish colonial rule, Haitian troops invaded that country in 1822, and occupied it until it regained its independence in 1844. The great political instability served to United States as a pretext to invade Haiti in 1915 and thus exert absolute control until 1934.[6] The costs and benefits of Haiti's independence has been the following:

  • The abolition of slavery in 1789
  • The foundation of the Haitian state in 1804
  • Many plantations were assigned to black generals causing great discontent among the former slaves
  • White masters were exterminated or driven from the country for what it is inhabited and ruled by blacks and mulattoes and the whites that sided with the revolution.
  • The plantation economy, without a living in slavery, falls abruptly being replaced mostly by subsistence African style
  • Haiti suffered a long period of international isolation promoted by the European powers, who did not admit the existence of a nation ruled by former slaves implying a threat to its own slave systems
  • In addition, the Haitian Revolution affected the whole area of the Caribbean, dealing a blow to the slave system prevailing in the region

The following events reflected the struggle between political and economic elites and the impoverished masses.

In 1957 was elected as President François Duvalier, popularly known as Papa Doc, who ruled dictatorially with financial and military aid United States and in 1964 proclaimed himself president lifetime. His son Jean-Claude Duvalier (Baby Doc) happened in 1971. In January 1986 a popular uprising forced him into exile and the army took control of the power, through the formation of a National Government led by General Henri Namphy.

In January 1988 became President Leslie François Manigat, but was deposed in July of the same year by Namphy, who overthrew Prosper Avril. After an interim presidency Ertha Pascal Trouillot, deposed by a coup, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected president from February 1991, also being deposed, after a serious crisis internal and the 2004, which included violent episodes, culminating in the occupation of Haiti by the "blue helmets" of the UN. In 2006, René Préval was elected president.

General elections were scheduled for January 2010, but were postponed due to the earthquake. It celebrated the November 28, 2010. The leading candidates were Mirlande Manigat and the official Jude Célestin, being in third place Michel Martelly. This elicited an electoral crisis, it is alleged that the government candidate Celestin had been favored by a fraud committed by the government. On February 3, 2011 was announced Martelly pass to the second round, to be held on March 20, after a deal in which Celestin desisted from continuing in the race. In the presidential runoff between Michel Martelly and Mirlande Manigat was elected Martelly.


Haitian family from a rural area

Although Haiti averages approximately 250 people per square kilometer (650 per sq mi.), its population is concentrated most heavily in urban areas, coastal plains, and valleys. Haiti's population was about 9.8 million according to UN 2008 estimates,[7] with half of the population being under 20 years.[8] The first formal census, taken in 1950, showed that the population was 3.1 million.[9]

95% of Haitians (according to the CIA world fact book) are primarily of African descent; the remaining 5% of the population are mostly of mixed-race background. While, smaller minority groups include people of Western European (French, German, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish), Arab, Armenian, or Jewish origin.[10][11]


An important cultural practice in Haiti is Haitian Vodou. Although this probably originated in Benin, there are strong elements added of the kongo of Central Africa and the Igbo of Nigeria, although many African nations are represented in the liturgy of Sévis Lwa. A generally ignored but significant element, is that of the Taino indigenous, venerated as the indigenous people of the island now known as Hispaniola. The Tainos were influential on the belief system of Haitian Vodou, especially in the Petro cult, a religious group with no counterpart on the African continent. Characterized by the worship of the loa, the sect has influences from Native American folklore zemis. The entire northern area of Haiti is influenced by the practices of the Congo. In the north, are often called Rito Congo or Lemba. In the south, the Kongo influence is called Petwo (Petro). Many loa or lwa have a Congolese origin, as Basimbi, Lemba, etc.[12]

Next to the Catholic marriage, polygyny persists, the dances and some forms of recreation tie in with African activities of this nature, the preparation of the beans is done in the style of Western Africa. Popular literature retains fables and other forms that are expressed in the vernacular; pecuniary economic activities are typical of Western culture clothing tends to be European, but the scarf worn by women over the head is typical of throughout West Africa, the Vodun, or religious ceremony from Dahomey, which allows communication with supernatural beings, existing alongside Catholic worship (v. TV), i.e. culture, religion and social organization are the result Haitian a process of syncretism French and African, mainly Dahomey-Nigerian, which was interrupted by the freeing of slaves.

At home they speak two languages: French is known by about 42% of the population,[13] consisting of a minority of mulattoes and blacks, in Port au Prince and other cities; the Creole is a language with dialectal forms in different regions, which is spoken throughout the country level, but is used exclusively in rural areas. The music of Haiti is heavily influenced by the rhythms came from Africa with the slaves, and are part of the rich spiritual and religious life of Haitians. Two of them come directly from there, the harbor and the Congo, a third rhythm is born on the island during the colonial era, the "petro". All are part of the rhythms used in Vodou ceremonies. Of these rhythms has led a musical style that, despite being closely related to religion, has become popular and has become a kind of folk music: the racine, where percussion is the most important musical instrument. We also find other types of music, which arises spontaneously from people with instruments built by themselves, the troubadou, musical style that has endured to this day, with accommodations at different times. Currently the music that you hear on Haiti's Compas a very nice pace, a little softer than the merengue, and adapts Congo rhythms with European and Caribbean influences later. Kompa is the most current version of this rhythm.[14]

See also[edit]

References and footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "CIA - The World Factbook -- Haiti". CIA. Archived from the original on May 7, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-21. 
  2. ^ Procedencia de los esclavos negros analizados a través del complejo de distribución, desarrollado desde Castagena (in Spanish: Origin of black slaves analyzed through distribution complex, developed from Castagena). Wrote y Franco Fernández Esquivel.
  3. ^ ++African Origins of Haitians++
  4. ^ Hall, Catherine, Review of The Birth of the Modern World 1780–1914: Global Connections and Comparisons, by Christopher Bayly online at, accessed 7 August 2008
  5. ^ Opinión sobre el merengue.
  6. ^ "US Invasion and Occupation of Haiti, 1915-1934". Department of State (United States). Retrieved February 11, 2010. 
  7. ^ Country profile: Haiti. BBC (2008-11-10). Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  8. ^ New Haiti Census Shows Drastic Lack of Jobs, Education, Maternal Health Services, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 10 May 2006. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  9. ^ Haiti – Population, Library of Congress Country Studies. Retrieved 16 February 2010.
  10. ^ Joshua Project. "Aimaq, Firozkohi of Afghanistan Ethnic People Profile". Joshua Project. Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  11. ^ "The Virtual Jewish History Tour: Haiti". Retrieved 14 January 2010. 
  12. ^ Zombi: Vudú haitiano (In Spanish: Haitian Vodou).
  13. ^ La langue française dans le monde 2014 (PDF). Nathan. 2014. ISBN 978-2-09-882654-0. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  14. ^ Mundo Latino: Población haitiana (In Spanish: Latino World. Haitian population.