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Religion in Haiti

Population

According to Countryaah data, Haiti is densely populated, 400 residents per km2 (2019). The country has a large emigration to the Dominican Republic and the United States, which contributes to a relatively moderate increase in population growth despite the region's natural population growth.

Religions of Haiti

In 2019, 55 per cent of the population lived in the countryside, but the migration to the cities is large. The largest city is Port-au-Prince (928,000 residents, 2012).

Nearly 85 percent of Haiti's population are black, descendants of African slaves, introduced to work on the sugar plantations. The remainder are mulattoes. There is also a negligible white population (Canadians, Americans and French). Both blacks and mulattos represent an African-European culture with both Roman Catholic and traditionally African religious elements. One of the most famous utterances is voodoo. The mulattoes and whites now make up the country's upper and middle class. There are few traces of the indigenous people, the Arab- speaking Tao- Indians, today, although some revitalization efforts have been heard in recent years. There are small groups of Arab descent, especially Lebanese and a small group of Syrians.

Language

Almost the entire population of Haiti speaks Haitian, a French-based Creole language. Until 1987, this had been denied official status by the governing elite (around 5% of the country's population) who mastered French. Recently, however, Haitian has begun to be increasingly used, e.g. in teaching, and is now considered the official language alongside French.

Religion

The Catholic Church, which came to Haiti with the Spanish colonizers, is today covered by just over 70 percent of the country's residents. Among the Protestants, the Baptist churches are the largest with almost 7 percent of the population as members. In addition, there are also smaller groups of Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, Pentecostals and Anglicans. In the country there are also small groups of Mennonites and Mormons. Bahaí is said to have more than 22,000 members. The Muslims are few, just over 2,000, and the number of Jews amounts to a few hundred individuals. Almost 3 percent are reported to be without faith and an estimated number of people include voodoo.

The current constitution of 1987 guarantees freedom of religion as long as the practice does not interfere with law and order. It also states that no one can be forced to belong to a religious organization or be taught a religious tradition that contradicts one's own beliefs. Foreign nationals and foreign organizations have the right to own properties needed for religious activities. The Constitution and other laws mean that religious freedom also works in practice.

Haiti has no state religion. However, the Catholic Church still has a strong position and incoming presidents must swear by God to enforce the constitution and the laws of the land. According to a concord with the Vatican of 1860, the bishops' salaries are paid by the state and the bishops are appointed by Haiti's president. Many official government events take place in premises belonging to the Catholic Church. The state also financially supports some Catholic churches, a support that is not given to other religious organizations. Many of Haiti's students receive religious education, as about 85 percent of Haiti's schools are private, and most of them are run by religious organizations.

A government agency oversees, administers, and registers the religious organizations, priests, and missionaries. Religious organizations must be registered. A recognition gives the right to tax exemption and duty-free import of goods. In addition, baptisms and marriages become legally valid.

The following days, according to the government, are national religious holidays: Good Friday, Corpus Christi, Mary's ascension to heaven, All Saints Day, All Souls Day and Christmas.

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