Haiti is a country which with few exceptions has remained outside the . focus of world interest and outside the important international historical currents during its entire existence as a free nation. At best, Haiti has been a 'pawn' in the game of international politics. Often, it has been an 'outcast'.l The decisive period in Haitian history, the period when the Haitian institutions, the class structure, the political tradition and the economic system were shaped, was the nineteenth century. During most of this period, the country was isolated, left to itself. Haitian society developed without much contact with the industrialized or industrializing nations of the world, and indeed, without much contact with its immediate neighbors. In the course of less than a century of relative isolation, Haiti became a peasant nation.