Economy - overview: In this poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, 80% of the
population lives in abject poverty, and natural disasters frequently sweep the nation.
Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agriculture sector, which consists mainly of
small-scale subsistence farming. Following legislative elections in May 2000, fraught with
irregularities, international donors - including the US and EU - suspended almost all aid to
Haiti. The economy shrank an estimated 1.2% in 2001, 0.9% in 2002, grew 0.4% in 2003,
and shrank by 3.5% in 2004. Suspended aid and loan disbursements totaled more than
$500 million at the start of 2003. Haiti also suffers from rampant inflation, a lack of
investment, and a severe trade deficit. In early 2005 Haiti paid its arrears to the World
Bank, paving the way to reengagement with the Bank. The resumption of aid flows from
all donors is alleviating but not ending the nation's bitter economic problems. Civil strife in
2004 combined with extensive damage from flooding in southern Haiti in May 2004 and
Tropical Storm Jeanne in northwestern Haiti in September 2004 further impoverished