13 Jan Earthquake Strikes Haiti
One of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, Haiti in recent years has struggled with problems ranging from near-constant political upheaval, health crises, severe environmental degradation and an annual barrage of hurricanes, which killed an estimated 800 people and caused vast damage in 2008.
On Jan. 12, 2010, a massive earthquake struck Haiti, reducing much of its capital to rubble. It was the worst earthquake in the region in more than 200 years, with as many as 50,000 feared dead. The devastation created serious obstacles to those attempting to deliver promised foreign aid.
United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told NBC’s “Today” program that 3 million people – about a third of Haiti’s population – had been affected by the quake, and that “there will be tens of thousands of casualties – we don’t have any exact numbers.”
Haiti occupies an area roughly the size of Maryland on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Nearly all of the 8.7 million residents are of African descent and speak Creole and French. The capital is Port-au-Prince.
The country is, by a significant margin, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, with four out of five people living in poverty and more than half in abject poverty. Deforestation and over-farming have left much of Haiti eroded and barren, undermining subsistence farming efforts, driving up food prices and leaving the country even more vulnerable to natural disasters. Its long history of political instability and corruption has added to the turmoil.
Haiti World News article