Meaning "mountainous land, " Haiti is a country of stark contrasts and rich history. The world's first independent black republic, Haiti has struggled with two hundred years of despotic leaders, coups, civil unrest, and in the twentieth century varying degrees of American interest and occupation. Most recently in 2004, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced from power and fled the country as armed rebels from the north took over cities including Port-au-Prince.
Despite its turbulent past and present, consistenly bad press, and intense poverty, Haitians still exhibit a strong pride in their country and a strong work ethic. The backbone of the country, ordinary Haitians are a deeply spiritual people and it is they who endure with spirit and humor.