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In 1789, revolution in France sparked dissension in the colony, which had a population of half a million slaves (half of all the slaves in the Caribbean); twenty-eight thousand mulattoes and free blacks, many of whom were wealthy landowners; and thirty-six thousand white planters, artisans, slave drivers, and small landholders.
In 1791, thirty-five thousand slaves rose in an insurrection, razed a thousand plantations, and took to the hills. Spanish, English, and French troops were soon battling one another for control of the colony.
Some wealthy citizens think of themselves as French, but most residents identify themselves as Haitian and there is a strong sense of nationalism. Haiti covers 10,714 square miles (27,750 square kilometers).
It is located in the subtropics on the western third of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean, which it shares with the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic.
Approximately 80 percent of permanent migrants come from the educated middle and upper classes, but very large numbers of lower-class Haitians temporarily migrate to the Dominican Republic and Nassau Bahamas to work at low-income jobs in the informal economy.
An unknown number of lower-income migrants remain abroad. For most of the nation's history the official language has been French.
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Haiti is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
Until the 1970s, over 80 percent of the population resided in rural areas, and today, over 60 percent continue to live in provincial villages, hamlets, and homesteads scattered across the rural landscape.
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