The World Factbook

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haitiU.S. Federal Document of the Month
February 2010

Title: The World Factbook
Agency: United States Central Intelligence Agency
Call Number: PREX 3.15:
Written by Charmaine Henriques

Recently I found myself in an airport, watching the tragic events in the Caribbean island of Haiti unfold on television. As everybody in the airport was mentally digesting this horrible situation, being a librarian I noticed the ticker tape at the bottom of the monitor divulging facts about Haiti. I was very surprised as I sat there thinking who doesn't know about Haiti!!! Haiti, together with its western neighbor the Dominican Republic makes up Hispaniola, the first country Christopher Columbus encountered in his voyage to the Americas. Haiti is the birthplace to Toussaint L'Ouverture, a slave who led a rebellion that would not only free Haiti from its colonial oppressors but would also make it the first independent country in Latin America. The United States invaded Haiti twice in the 20th century; the first time in 1915 the second in 1994. I was incredulous, had no one ever cracked open a history book? As I retold this story to a colleague, she pointed out that yes there are people who do not know anything about Haiti and asked me if I knew something about every country on the planet. Well, I have to admit I do not but as I said before I am a librarian so I know where to look and the U.S. Federal Documents Collection holds its own ticker tape of country information called "The World Factbook."

The World Factbook, is published by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and is put out in print and electronically ( on the CIA's website. This reference resource provides information on the people, government, history, geography, transportation and economy of 226 countries. It also contains several types of maps, as well as images (online version) and the different flags of the world with descriptions.

So what are some of the things one could find out about Haiti? Well according to The World Factbook, Haiti became independent from France on January 1, 1804 and has a population of 9,035,536 that speaks 2 official languages: French and Creole. Its major agricultural products are: coffee, mangoes, sugarcane, rice, corn, sorghum and wood. The main industries on the island are: sugar refining, flour milling, textiles, cement and light assembly based on imported parts. Haiti has 14 airports and 4,160 km of roadways. There are 1 million internet users and 2 television broadcast stations.

For more information on Haiti see the Library of Congress' Country Study: Haiti and/or the U.S. Department of State's Background Note: Haiti

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Sui Zhang