Tropical beach paradise in Haiti
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Tropical beach paradise in Haiti

© Creative Commons / LucasTheExperience

Haiti Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

27,750 sq km (10,714 sq miles).

Population

9.9 million (2013).

Population density

356.5 per sq km.

Capital

Port-au-Prince.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from France in 1804.

Head of state

President Michel Martelly since 2011.

Head of government

Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe since 2012.

Electricity

110 volts AC, 60Hz.

Haiti is a country guaranteed to shock and awe. Tragedy-scarred but tenacious, this small Caribbean nation has great beauty and great need. Boasting verdant mountains, white sandy beaches and plenty of African spontaneity, Haiti might be financially poor, but it is rich in natural beauty, culturally affluent.

Sharing the island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, Haiti has all the hallmarks of a classic Caribbean destination. And so it was, in the 1960s and 70s, when the wealthy flocked here to relax in the tropical climate, tread upon powdery beaches and explore vertiginous mountain ranges.

However, decades of political instability and a series of natural disasters devastated Haiti’s tourist industry, and saw the country go from the travel sections of newspapers straight to the front pages.

But, slowly, holidaymakers are returning. Led by the luxury end of the market, new hotels are opening all the time in Port au Prince, which is a sign of how the tide is finally turning. As well as new hotels, numerous tourism development projects are also underway.

Haiti’s unique selling proposition as a Caribbean destination is its history and culture. It has a vibrant arts scene, irresistible fusion cuisine and many talented musicians, who pack out bars and clubs with their unique brand of African, European and Caribbean beats.

However, travelling around Haiti is not always easy. The country’s infrastructure has not recovered from decades of instability and the devastating earthquake of 2010.

Political uncertainty endures, too; the United Nations’ Stabilization Force for Haiti – known by its French acronym MINUSTAH – is still here ten years after it was sent in to restore political order.

In the short term, then, the best option for those travelling to Haiti is to use the services of a known tour operator. This might not feel particularly adventurous, but it will take the hassle out of visiting a nation that is still finding its feet after years in the wilderness.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 22 October 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the of Carrefour, Cite Soleil, Martissant and Bel Air neighbourhoods in Port-au-Prince due to the risk of criminal activity.

The hurricane season in Haiti normally runs from June to November. You should monitor weather updates and follow the advice of the local authorities.

You should take great care due to the risk of criminal activity throughout the country.

There is a low threat from terrorism.

There is a small British Embassy in Haiti but it does not provide consular (or visa) services. If you need consular assistance you should contact the British Honorary Consul (telephone: 509 3744 6371) or the British Embassy in Santo Domingo.

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