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Fun Facts About Haiti – The First Black Republic in the World!
Haiti and the Olympics
Did you know… Haitian shooters — Ludovic Valborge, LH Clertmont, Astrel Rolland, Destin Destine, C. Dupre, Eloi Metullus & Ludovic Augustin — won a bronze medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics — making it the first black nation to globe winning a summer olympic medal. This medal made Haiti the poorest country to ever win an Olympic medal. Surprisingly they do it on an island where there are few sports facilities. Of course the Caribbean team was a “dark horse” in France.
Katherine Dunham & Haiti
Did you know… The island nation of Haiti was once home to Katherine Dunham, one of the most successful dancers of the 20th century. She obviously loved Haiti. America’s Katherine Dunham had long been fascinated by Haitian culture and traditions. Her book Island Possessed (1969) is a tribute to this Caribbean nation. In 2002 she, who was born in Glenn Ellyn (Illinois, USA), forced the world to pay attention to the Haitian boat people. Today Katherine is a national heroine in Haiti.
Did you know… Since 1804 Haiti has had four national flags.
World famous Haitians
Did you know… Wyclef Neluset Jean — the image of Haiti abroad — is a world-renowned Haitian musician. He is currently an advocate for Haiti in the world.
Haiti & United States
Did you know… Washington has close ties to Haiti. Since the 1930s, many American leaders have visited Haiti. In this context, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945) traveled to Haiti in 1934. Sixty-one years later, Bill Clinton became the second American president to visit Haiti. President Clinton arrived in Port-au-Prince to meet with Jean-Bertrand Aristide (the country’s president). On the other hand, Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, went to the country in 2004. In 2008, Laura Bush, the First Lady of America, was the guest of honor of the Haitian government. Then Hillary Clinton, the current Secretary of State, accepted an invitation to visit Haiti. In Port-au-Prince, she, who visited the country in 1998, met with high-ranking Haitian officials.
In the mid-1990s, Jimmy Carter, 2002 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former US president, played a key role in ending military rule in Haiti.
Did you know… Five decades ago, Haitians could expect to live 39 years. Today they can look forward to their 60s.
Women & Power
Did you know… In Haiti, women have been allowed to vote since 1950 — Women make up the majority of the population. Over the past few decades, this Caribbean nation has had two female leaders. In 1991, Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, one of the world’s shortest presidents, became the first black woman president in the Western Hemisphere. Four years later, Claudette Werleigh was appointed head of government by Haitian head of state Jean-Bertrand Aristide. On the other hand, Michaelle Jean, the Governor General of Canada, was born on the island of Haiti. She has lived in Canada since 1968. In 2006 Michaelle moved to Port-au-Prince.
Did you know… Haiti is the size of Maryland. This country has been described as the “Pearl of the Caribbean”.
Africa and Haiti
Did you know… In 1967, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, the last emperor of Africa, arrived in Haiti for an official visit. During his visit to the world’s first black nation, Selassie met with Francois Duvalier, President-for-life of Haiti.
Did you know… In the early 1800s, Haiti became the first black republic on the planet. Before Haiti became a country, it had been a French colony.
Haiti & FIFA World Cup
Did you know… In 1974 Haiti lived up to their reputation as one of the best teams in the Caribbean by winning the Concacaf Cup. Haiti became the first Caribbean soccer team to win the Concacaf title, breaking a 30-year stranglehold from Mexico. During that regional tournament, Haiti also qualified for the world championships in Munich, West Germany. The country had never qualified for a major soccer tournament before. This international title gave Haiti a moment of joy and glory. In Europe, Haiti and Zaire – today the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Africa) – were the first black republics to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in the 20th century.
Haiti The Miss Universe pageant
Did you know… Haitian contestant Gerthie David, who speaks French and English, came close to winning the Miss Universe pageant in San Salvador (El Salvador, Central America) in the mid-1970s. Surprisingly, Gerthie — who was the country’s third representative — – became the second black woman to qualify for the MU finals. Apparently Haiti’s Gerthie David was supported by two international judges – Sarah Vaughan (a Grammy-winning American-born singer) and Jean-Claude Killy (former Olympic champion and current Olympic leader). According to a San Salvador newspaper, Miss Haiti was one of the 11 favorites to win the world title. She had surprised and delighted many in this international beauty contest. On the other hand, in 1977, for the first time, Haiti sent a non-black woman to compete in the MU in the Dominican Republic.
Did you know… Haiti participated in the Montreal World Exposition in 1967 in Canada, along with 70 countries. Likewise, it sent a national delegation to the African Festival in Dakar (Senegal) in the 1960s.
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