Haiti is located approximately 750 miles southeast of Florida and just to the east of Cuba. Haiti occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Haiti has a land mass of 10,714 sq. miles. Haiti, an Indian word meaning “mountains,” is made up of extremely mountainous country of which only 20 percent of the territory lies below 600 feet. The highest mountain in Haiti (Chain de la Sel) is almost 9,000 feet above sea level.
The climate in Haiti is tropical with average temperatures ranging from 80 degrees in January to 86 degrees in July. There are also two rainy seasons. The first runs from April to June and the second between October and November. Like in all Caribbean countries, hurricanes are common.
Haiti’s ecology has been significantly damaged since its independence in 1804. Only 7% of the country’s original forest remains unscathed by deforestation. Most of the trees have been cut down and used as firewood for heating and cooking. Some wood has been sold to surrounding island nations to provide much needed income. Massive soil erosion has also occurred due to the vast amount of deforestation. Thus, much of the soil in Haiti has been depleted of vital minerals and severe mudslides have occurred.
Some of the ocean water around Haiti is also polluted. This includes parts of the coastal areas, such as the Bay of Port-au-Prince, and many major ports and coastal towns. Fresh water lakes and streams throughout the country are also non potable.