Haiti, officially the Republic of Haiti, is a Caribbean country. Along with the Dominican Republic, it occupies the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago. Ayiti (land of high mountains) was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the mountainous western side of the island. The country's highest point is Pic la Selle, at 2,680 metres (8,793 ft). The total area of Haiti is 27,750 square kilometres (10,714 sq mi) and its capital is Port-au-Prince. Haitian Creole and French are the official languages.
Haiti's regional, historical and ethnolinguistic position is unique for several reasons. It was the first independent nation in Latin America and the first black-led republic in the world when it gained independence as part of a successful slave rebellion in 1804. Despite having common cultural links with its Hispano-Caribbean neighbors, Haiti is the only predominantly Francophone independent nation in the Americas. It is one of only two independent nations in the Americas (along with Canada) that designate French as an official language; the other French-speaking areas are all overseas départements, or collectivités, of France.
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and has experienced political violence throughout its history. Most recently, in February 2004, an armed rebellion forced the resignation and exile of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and a provisional government took control with security provided by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). Rene Preval, the current president, was elected in the Haitian general election, 2006.
On January 12, 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti and devastated the capital city Port-au-Prince. Reportedly more than 150,000 people were killed and buried later in mass graves, although the exact number was difficult to determine and the reported number fluctuates, and a large number are homeless. The Presidential palace, Parliament and many other important structures were destroyed, along with countless homes and businesses.