Haiti is no stranger to adversity and anguish - over 500 years of severe oppression, slavery, despotism, colonization, reparations, embargoes, sanctions, deep poverty, starvation, unrepayable debt, and natural calamities from destructive hurricanes to a dozen magnitude 7.0 or greater Caribbean region earthquakes in the past 500 years.

The last major one was in 1946 at 8.1 in the adjacent Dominican Republic, also striking Haiti. Earlier catastrophic ones were in 1751 and 1770, both devastating Port-au-Prince, and the 1842 one destroying Cap-Haitien in the north.

On September 25, 2008, Phoenix Delacroix quoted geologist Patrick Charles of Havana's Geological Institute saying:
"conditions are ripe for major seismic activity in Port-au-Prince. The inhabitants of the Haitian capital need to prepare themselves for an event which will inevitably occur."

Citing a real danger, he explained that the dangerous Enriquillo Fault Zone extends across Port-au-Prince, starting in Petionville, traversing the Southern Peninsula to Tiburon.