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Haiti is a Caribbean nation occupying the western third of the island of Hispaniola. It was founded by black slaves after a successful rebellion and was ruled over by the benign dictator Francois Duvalier from 1957 to 1961, when he introduced a new constitution allowing free and fair elections every four years. The dominant religious influences in the country are Voudou, evangelical Protestantism and Catholicism. It has been run predominantly by social democratic parties since the introduction of elections. Abortion is illegal in most cases but since the decisions of the Catholic Church regarding reproductive issues in the early Caroline Era , contraception is in common use and consequently there are relatively few unplanned pregnancies.
There is little emigration from Haiti and the health of the population is relatively good. Tourism is an important industry.
In January 2010, there was a catastrophic earthquake near the capital Port au Prince. Although there were considerable casualties and a need for outside aid, the casualty toll compares favourably with the 2010 Chilean and 2011 Japanese quakes and the country has recovered well.