This chapter provides a brief historical background and a description of major events in Haiti. It also provides basic political, economic, and social data arranged in the following categories: polity, economy, population, purchasing power parities, life expectancy, ethnic groups, capital, political rights, civil liberties, and status. The chapter discusses the progress and decline of political rights and civil liberties in Haiti. Since gaining independence from France in 1804 following a slave revolt, the Republic of Haiti has endured a history of poverty, violence, instability, and dictatorship. Alleged irregularities in the May 2000 parliamentary elections caused Haiti's opposition parties to boycott the November presidential contest. In July 2001, Haitian human rights activists charged that authorities in the Dominican Republic had continued mass deportations of Haitian immigrants, despite assurances that they were trying to improve the situation. Trafficking of children within Haiti occurs primarily for purposes of prostitution or labour.