Dominican Republic and Haiti
By: Haley Paddock
Reason 1: Deforestation
The Dominican Republic and Haiti are both located on an island called Hispaniola. Despite physically bordering each other, the geography of these two countries differ greatly. Both of these countries have struggled with deforestation. However, Collapse by Jared Diamond states, “Today, 28% of the Dominican Republic is still forested, but only 1% of Haiti” (329). The largest impact of this issue has been a lack of wood in Haiti, which Haitians use to make charcoal as their main fuel for cooking. In addition to creating a shortage of charcoal, a loss of timber and other forest building materials have resulted from extreme deforestation in Haiti. Other impacts on the landscape include a loss of soil fertility, soil erosion, and sediment loads accumulating in rivers. Deforestation in Haiti has also caused a decrease in rainfall and a loss of watershed protection, and subsequently prevented the potential for hydroelectric power. While the Dominican Republic has also encountered these common struggles associated with deforestation, it has not been as extreme. As a result of their differing levels of deforestation, the Dominican Republic has been able to survive through difficult circumstances, while Haiti has not.
This picture below, which captures the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, showcases the contrast in their level of deforestation. The left side of the image depicts Haiti and the right side shows the Dominican Republic.
Reason 2: Economic Status
A poor economy characterizes the Dominican Republic and Haiti. However, while both of these countries are impoverished, the situation in Haiti is more extreme. According to Collapse, Haiti is, “...the poorest country in the New World, and one of the poorest in the world outside of Africa” (330). Overpopulation contributes to Haiti's economic status. Currently, Haiti is one of the most overpopulated countries in the world, with approximately 10 million people inhabiting the area, with an average population density of 1,000 people per square mile. On the island of Hispaniola, Haiti occupies 1/3 of the landmass, but constitutes 2/3 of the overall island population. Currently, the rate of population growth in Haiti is 3% per year, a situation that is unsustainable. The population density in the Dominican Republic is must lower than that of Haiti. Extreme overpopulation makes it difficult for individuals in Haiti to received aid. Additionally, most Haitians are subsistence farmers. The market economy is very modest. Collapse references, "...a mere 20,000 people employed at low wages in free trade zones..." (330). The circumstances in the Dominican Republic differ. The Dominican Republic's per-capita income is five times higher than Haiti's, $2,200 per year. The population growth rate and population density are also much lower. Overpopulation in Haiti not only makes it difficult for the people in the country to receive aid, but also contributes to and compounds their economic struggles. The differences in their economic statuses is yet another reason why the Dominican Republic has not collapsed like Haiti.
This photo shows the living conditions in Haiti. From this photo, one can see how overpopulated Haiti is.
Reason 3: Public Health
Like many other countries that struggle with a poor economy and overpopulation, Haiti has several public health issues. "Haiti's rate of population growth, and its rate of infection with AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria are among the highest in the new world" (Collapse, 330). Again, a poor economy and overpopulation make it difficult to meet the needs of the people of Haiti. In her article, " An Editor's Journey: Return to Haiti," Yvette Moy references, "...the infant mortality rate of 54 deaths per 1,000 live births...17% die the first year after birth". This shows that in Haiti, it is very easy to get sick. Also, many Haitians struggle with high blood pressure, diabetes, acid reflux, vaginal infection and parasites. Haiti's life expectancy for a male or female is between 61 and 64 years of age. This is remarkably different from the Dominican Republic's life expectancy, which is 72 to 73 years of age. Although the Dominican Republic deals with health troubles, Haiti's public health problems are much greater.
Diamond, Jared M. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. New York: Viking,
Moy, Yvette. "An Editor's Journey: Return to Haiti." Iconn.org. N.p., 12 Apr. 2012. Web. 6 Mar. 2014.
"A Storm in Hispaniola." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 07 Dec. 2013. Web. 06
Mar. 2014. This article is current because it was published in 2013 by The Economist
Newspaper, a respected and reliable international periodical that publishes well-researched articles written by credible authors. The purpose of this article is to provide information about political conflict that exists between Haiti and The Dominican Republic.
Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency, n.d. Web. 04 Mar. 2014. This source is current because this website is updated regularly by the Central Intelligence Agency. This information is reliable because this is a government operated website that has the authority to access and publish demographic information about the world countries. The purpose of this website is to publish objective demographic information about the different world countries and does not contain bias information or a particular point of view.