Following are key facts about Haiti, which was struck by a major earthquake on Tuesday that knocked down buildings in the capital of Port-au-Prince.
* The Caribbean nation of 9 million is a former French colony and the world's oldest black republic, founded by freed slaves following a revolt that led to independence in 1804.
* Haiti is the poorest country in the Americas with an annual per-capita income of $560. It ranks 146th out of 177 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index.
* More than half the population lives on less than $1 a day and 78 percent on less than $2. There is a high infant mortality rate (60 for every 1,000 births) and the prevalence of HIV among those between ages 15 and 49 is 2.2 percent.
* Haiti's infrastructure is close to total collapse and severe deforestation has left only 2 percent of forest cover.
* After decades of dictatorship, former Roman Catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide became Haiti's first freely elected leader in 1990. He was ousted by a military coup in 1991 but reinstated with U.S. backing. He was forced out of the country and into exile in 2004 by a rebellion of gangs and former soldiers.
* Haiti has been led by President Rene Preval since May 2006 when the country returned to constitutional rule.
Sources: World Bank, UNDP, CIA