Like two sides of the same coin, Haiti and the Dominican Republic (DR) sit on the same island in the Caribbean.
Yet the average Haitian is reportedly nearly 10 times poorer than the average Dominican.
Why is that?
Let’s review the historical context.
In 1492 Spain initially controlled the island. Eventually, the French took over the western part, now known as Haiti.
The impact of these two world powers is still seen in the culture today, where Haitians speak a French creole and those from DR speak Spanish.
Miraculously, each group of colonized people overthrew various oppressors, including each other in some cases, (the Haitian Revolution is truly wild), and achieved independence.
Independence was especially expensive for the Haitians who were put in the odd situation of having to pay the French a price of 150 million francs to be recognized as independent.
And that was only 198 years ago in 1825.
Again, keep in mind this was after the French had exploited their lands, while in contrast, the Spaniards were much more gentle with the land as they took a much more integrated approach with the natives.
From a geographical perspective, Haiti is also at an agricultural disadvantage with mountains that block rainfall to grow crops, and DR has better soil.
And likely impacting the wealth disparity most, on the corruption index, where 0 means highly corrupt and 100 means very clean, Haiti clocks in at 17/100 while the DR is at 32/100.