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Last Updated: Monday January 18 2010 15:20 GMT

Why is Haiti such a poor country?

The ruins of a church destroyed in the quake

Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the world, which is why it's struggling to cope with the devastation caused by last week's earthquake.

Organisations like the government and police don't work very well, lots of people there don't have any jobs, and the country doesn't make much money.

For the last few years the United Nations (UN) has been helping them.

It has soldiers there to try to keep things peaceful, and it helps the government try to run the country.

Haiti had a lot of problems with bad governments in the past, including lots of people being killed, and leaders being overthrown.

And it takes a long time for a country to recover from things like this.

Rich and poor

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There's also a huge gap between rich people and poor people there.

The country used to be owned and run by France before it became independent.

Now the French people who are still there make up 1% of the population, but they own half the country's wealth.

Lots of Haitians try to get work in other countries like America, and other places in the Caribbean.

Disaster after disaster

Another reason the country is struggling to cope with the earthquake is because it has had so many natural disasters.

Storms and earthquakes are common there, and often there's not enough time for people to recover before the next disaster strikes.

Here's a rundown of some of the biggest disasters Haiti's had to cope with over the past few years...

• 1994 - Hurricane Gordon kills hundreds

• 1998 - Hurricane Georges destroys 80% of crops

• 2004 - Floods kill 2,600

• 2004 - Tropical Storm Jeanne kills 1,900

• 2007 - Tropical Storm Noel triggers mudslides and floods

• 2008 - Three hurricanes and tropical storm kill 800

• 2010 - Quake hits Port-Au-Prince, killing thousands

(Sources: AP, US Geological Survey)