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Haiti General Information
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People, Languages & Religions in Haiti


80-85% of Haitians are of African descent, and the remaining 20-15% of the population are mostly of mixed-race background. A small percentage of the non-black population consists primarily of White Haitians; mostly of Western European (French, German, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish), and Arab, Armenian,or Jewish origin. Haitians of east Asian descent or East Indian origin number approximately 400.


One of Haiti's two official languages is French, which is the principal written and administratively authorised language. It is spoken by all educated Haitians, is spoken in schools, and is used in the business sector. It is also used in ceremonious events such as weddings, graduations and church masses. The second is the recently standardised Haitian Creole, which is spoken by virtually the entire population of Haiti. Haitian Creole is one of the French-based creole languages, it is strongly related to French and Spanish, with influence from west African languages, Taíno and almost every European language. Haitian creole is closely related to Louisiana Creole and all the other French creoles.


For many years Roman Catholicism was the official religion of Haiti. Its official status was repealed with the enactment of the 1987 constitution; however, neither the government nor the Vatican has renounced the 1860 Concordat that serves as a basis for relations between the two. In many ways Roman Catholicism retains a position of honour, but Haitians are guaranteed the freedom to practice all religions by the constitution.

According to 1998 estimates, Roman Catholics represent about 80% of the population. Most of the remainder belong to various Protestant denominations, the largest being the Baptist (10%) and Pentecostal (4%) churches. Other significant denominations include Methodists, Episcopalians, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Adventists, and Orthodox.

Other religious groups include Jews, Muslims, Rastafarians, and Baha'is. Voodoo, a traditional religion partially derived from West African beliefs, is still widely practised, often in tandem with Christianity. Voodoo became an officially recognised church in 2001 with the establishment of the Eglise Voudou d'Ayiti (the Voodoo Church of Haiti) and has had a growing attendance since then.





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