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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, a name that means "mountainous country," is derived from the language of the Taino Indians who inhabited the island before European colonization.
French was relegated to the status of a secondary official language but continues to prevail among the elite and in government, functioning as marker of social class and a barrier to the less educated and the poor.
An estimated 5–10 percent of the population speaks fluent French, but in recent decades massive emigration to the United States and the availability of cable television from the United States have helped English replace French as the second language in many sectors of the population. Residents attach tremendous importance to the expulsion of the French in 1804, an event that made Haiti the first independently black-ruled nation in the world, and only the second country in the Western Hemisphere to achieve independence from imperial Europe.