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Haiti is a poverty-stricken land of urban overpopulation, denuded hillsides and a people suffering the wounds of civil strife and oppression. It is also a vibrant country of colourful art, fantastic music, cloud forests and an intensely spiritual people whose humour and passion are legendary.
A Country in Turmoil
The presence of a UN stabilisation force is intended to strengthen Haiti's longterm security. However, the security situation is volatile and Haiti remains an unsafe place to visit.
Kidnappers and well-armed street gangs operate with impunity in the capital, Port-au-Prince. Targets of kidnapping for ransom include wealthy Haitians as well as foreign aid workers and even diplomats.
When To Go
Haiti has two rainy seasons, from April to May and from September to October, with most rain falling in the mountains. If you plan to do much hiking, trekking or even driving, these might be months to avoid. The June-to-September hurricane season might be worth missing as well; though the chances of one blowing through are miniscule, remember that one little hurricane can wreck your whole holiday. The temperature is fairly constant year-round, with highs averaging around 34°C (95°F) in the summer and 30°C (85°F) in the winter. There isn't currently a peak tourist season, making Haiti an ideal destination during the Northern Hemisphere's winter, when most Caribbean isles are packed with snowbirds slurping umbrella-laden beverages and raising the prices of food, accommodations and everything else.
It's worth planning a visit to Haiti around Carnival (the three days leading up to Ash Wednesday) or Rara (the week leading up to Easter), when music and dancing seem to erupt spontaneously. Avoid the weeks leading up to an election, including the presidential election in December 2000, when less pleasant but equally spontaneous eruptions of passion tend to make their mark.