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    Explore the vast openness and wildlife found roaming in the western United States, including Theodore Roosevelt National Park (pictured) in North Dakota. Begin Your Journey!

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    Dominican Republic: Houses on the beach. Go Now!

    Dominican Republic
    Dominican Republic is home to the oldest European settlements in North America and still holds a Spanish charm, but for many tourists, the greatest attraction is the beach. Begin Your Journey!

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    Cuba: Sandy beach. Go Now!

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    Many people fear the unknowns of Cuba, but the history, culture, food, and impressive beaches lure many visitors every year. Explore Cuba!

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    Guatemala: Colorful culture. Go Now!

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    Colorful Guatemala offers something for every visitor: great food, ancient Mayan ruins, and pristine beaches. Go Now!

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    Jamaica: Pristine beach. Go Now!

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Culture & Identity of Haiti

WARNING: Safety is a concern in Haiti, please read this travel warning before going!

Introduction

Life in Haiti is diverse. From mountains to beaches, from urbanites to rural dwellers, from the farmers to industrial workers, life in Haiti is diverse. However, the people generally seem to cling to one identity and often share the same attitude, which is relaxed and one that welcomes all as friends and family.

The way of life begins with this easy going attitude. Time seems unimportant, as does much of the material possessions many people strive for, instead family is the center of the culture and life revolves around family and doing what's best for one's family, even if that means going to extremes to support their family.

Although the people do share the center of their lives in family, the daily schedule and way of life differ in many other ways. Nearly half the population lives in rural areas and of those with jobs, most work in agriculture. For these famers life tends to be occupied with long days based on the sun, weather, and seasons. During busy times of the year the whole family helps in the fields, while most down time is spent in the home with family. Of course many of these people rely on their community for survival as people come together to celebrate, mourn, or help with a project.

For the urbanites life is more diverse. Over half of the people seeking jobs in Haiti are unemployed and many of these people live in the cities (although they live everywhere in the country). Life in the cities ranges from wealthy business persons in nice cars living in mansions on the beach to entire communities and neighborhoods that consist entirely of make shift housing. The extremes in the way of life in Haiti are best seen in the cities as many people live quite comfortably, while many others struggle to survive day to day. Even many people with jobs feel obligated to work long hours to keep their jobs as there are so many unemployed people waiting for an opportunity.

No matter the circumstances, family is still the center of life for many people and education is considered very important. Today education is much more widely available than it was even a decade ago, but school standards and facilities remain diverse. Today most children are educated in international or private schools, but few of these schools even have good facilities. Few teachers have a teaching degree or any higher education and many schools are housed in temporary structures. However, education is important to the people so these schools are well attended.

For many outsiders life in Haiti may seem dire and in many cases it is, but the people have survived for centuries by uniting together and focusing on family. Work and education are to benefit the family and this remains the center of life, although for many people little else in life is certain in Haiti, although the people continue to push forward.

Identity

Haitians define themselves as "Haitians," but what this means is up for debate. The Haitians have little loyalty or faith in their government as economic progress and standards of living have improved little in recent decades so it is generally not a nationalistic definition. However, the people are not ethnically identical either so it is generally not an ethnic definition either. Being Haitian is defined more by the culture and way of life of the people on an everyday basis. Although few locals may define it in this way, it seems all Haitians agree their language (French creole), their food, and their lifestyle are uniform aspects of their society and their people; these traits are arguably the best ways to define what it means to be Haitian. To a lesser degree, the people's ancestry is also included in this identity; most Haitians are ethnic African and many Haitians proudly call their country the first "Black Republic."

This page was last updated: December, 2013