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The Republic of Haiti (pop. 8,630,000; GDP/cap US$523) occupies the western third of the island of Hispaniola in the northern Caribbean, west of the Dominican Republic.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas and one of the most disadvantaged in the world. 65% of its population lives under the poverty line, only 52.9% of the population is literate. It has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS outside of Sub-Saharan Africa.

During the rule of the Duvaliers, Haiti became notorious for corruption. Then Jean-Bertrand Aristide came in as Haiti’s first democratically-elected president, but was then ousted by a coup. In 1994 he was returned to office, but then again was forced out in February 2004. Rene Preval, the country’s current president, won the 2006 elections.

The Haitian system of establishing property rights is so convoluted, complicated and corrupt that for the average citizen of Haiti, owning any property will always remain just a dream. Obtaining a legally recognized title to property in Haiti takes over 11 years and 111 bureaucratic steps involving 32 separate offices and countless forms to be filed, according to Hernando de Soto’s “The Mystery of Capital”.

Foreigners may not own more than one residence in the same district or own real estate without authorization from the Ministry of Justice. Land holdings of foreigners are limited to 1.29 hectares in urban areas and 6.45 hectares in rural areas. Additionally, foreigners may not own property or buildings near the border.

However, foreigners who establish Haitian corporations with corporate offices located in Haiti are not subject to property restrictions.

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