A tropical island nation in the Caribbean, Haiti is due east of Cuba and shares the island of Hispanola with the Dominican Republic. In the early 17th and 18th centuries, the French colony of Haiti was one of the most prosperous in the world, due primarily to slaves laboring on the island’s many agricultural plantations. Towards the end of the 18th century, Haiti’s slaves (numbering almost half a million people) revolted. After an arduous struggle, they established the first independent black republic in 1804.
Plagued by political violence for most of its history, today Haiti is considered the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. Of the seven million people inhabiting Haiti, over 70 percent of the adult population is unable to find employment.
Due to great political unrest and dire economic circumstances, many Haitian children have been abandoned by their parents. In 2004, Americans adopted 356 children from Haiti.
Credits: The International Adoption Guidebook, © Mary M. Strickert
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