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. About 95% of Haitians are of African descent. The rest of the population is mostly of mixed Caucasian-African ancestry. A few are of European or Levantine heritage. About two thirds of the population live in rural areas.
French is one of two official languages, but it is spoken by only about 10% of the people. All Haitians speak Creole, the country's other official language. English is increasingly spoken among the young and in the business sector.
The state religion is Roman Catholicism, which most of the population professes. Some Haitians have converted to Protestantism through the work of missionaries active throughout the country. Much of the population also practices voodoo traditions. Haitians tend to see no conflict in these African-rooted beliefs co-existing with Christian faiths.
Although public education is free, private and parochial schools provide around 75% of educational programs offered and less than 65% of those eligible for primary education are actually enrolled. At the secondary level, the figure drops to 15%. Only 63% of those enrolled will complete primary school. 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.
Large-scale emigration, principally to the U.S. -- but also to Canada, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and other Caribbean neighbors -- has created what Haitians refer to as the Tenth Department or the Diaspora. About one of every six Haitians live abroad.
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2000 est.)
0-14 years: 41% (male 1,430,018; female 1,393,665)
15-64 years: 55% (male 1,814,964; female 1,945,165)
65 years and over: 4% (male 138,533; female 145,650) (2000 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.39% (2000 est.)
Birth rate: 31.97 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)
Death rate: 15.13 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.97 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.95 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2000 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 97.1 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 49.21 years
male: 47.46 years
female: 51.06 years (2000 est.)
Total fertility rate: 4.5 children born/woman (2000 est.)
Ethnic groups: black 95%, mulatto plus white 5%
Roman Catholic 80%, Protestant 16% (Baptist 10%, Pentecostal 4%, Adventist 1%, other 1%), none 1%, other 3% (1982)
note: roughly one-half of the population also practices Voodoo
Languages: French (official), Creole (official)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 45%
female: 42.2% (1995 est.)