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Dominican Republic

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Dominican Republic
República Dominicana  (Spanish)
Motto: "Dios, Patria, Libertad" (Spanish)
"God, Homeland, Freedom"
Anthem: ¡Quisqueyanos Valientes!
¡Valiant Quisqueyans! 
Location of Dominican Republic
Location of Dominican Republic
and largest city
Santo Domingo
19°00′N 70°40′W / 19.000°N 70.667°W / 19.000; -70.667
Official languagesSpanish
Ethnic groups
Quisqueyan (colloquial)[2]
GovernmentUnitary presidential republic[3]
• President
Luis Abinader
Raquel Peña
Chamber of Deputies
• from Haiti
January 24, 1856[4]
• from United States
July 12, 1924b
• from United States
November 28, 1966[5]
November 28, 1966
• Total
48,315 km2 (18,655 sq mi) (128th)
• Water (%)
• Estimate
Increase 7,293,390 hab
• Density
228/km2 (590.5/sq mi)
GDP (PPP)2018 estimate
• Total
$186.983 billion[6]
• Per capita
GDP (nominal)2018 estimate
• Total
$81.653 billion[6]
• Per capita
Gini (2015)Negative increase 44.9[7]
HDI (2015)Increase 0.691[8]
medium · 99th
CurrencyPeso[4] (DOP)
Time zoneUTC  – 4:00[3] (Standard Time Caribbean)
Driving sideright
Calling code+1-809, +1-829, +1-849
ISO 3166 codeDO
Internet TLD.do[3]
  1. Race was dropped from the census after 1960.
  2. Haiti did not recognize the Dominican Republic until 1874.[9][10]
Sources for area, capital, coat of arms, coordinates, flag, language, motto and names: [4]
For an alternate area figure of 48,730 km2, calling code 809 and Internet TLD: [3]

The Dominican Republic (Spanish: República Dominicana) is a Latin American country on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola; the other country on the island is Haiti. Its capital, and largest city, is Santo Domingo. The national language is Spanish.

The country was part of the Spanish empire until the late 18th century. In the 19th century France, Spain and Haiti controlled it at various times, and later it was independent. It was occupied by the United States from 1916 to 1924. The Dominican Republic is a presidential democratic republic. The country has a tropical climate but modified by elevation and the trade winds (winds that come from the northeast, from the Atlantic Ocean).

The Spanish brought African slaves to the country.

Dominican Republic is one of the biggest producers of cacao.

History[change | change source]

The island of Hispaniola was discovered by Christopher Columbus on December 5th, 1492,[11] but the first time that he saw part of the present Dominican Republic was on January 4th, 1493 when he saw a headland that he named Monte Cristi ("Mountain of Christ").[12] That mountain is called now El Morro and is near the city of Monte Cristi.

From Monte Cristi, Columbus went east along the north coast of the island and on 6 January, after visiting the Samaná Bay, he went back to Spain. In his second trip to America, he founded the first European city in the continent, La Isabela, near the present city of Puerto Plata.[13]

Later, Bartholomew Columbus founded the city of Santo Domingo, the oldest permanent European city in the Americas. From here, many Spaniards went to conquer other islands (Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico). Because Cuba was closer to the continent, many people moved there from Hispaniola, and then to the continent. Because of that, the population of the island grew very slowly. By the Treaty of Ryswick in 1697, Spain gave the western third of the island to France and kept the eastern part, and so the island had two different colonies: the French Saint-Domingue and the Spanish Santo Domingo. In 1795, France got the whole island but they could only control the eastern part because Haiti became independent very soon. In 1809, the French government gave back the old colony of "Santo Domingo" to Spain.

On 1 December 1821, the Spanish lieutenant governor José Núñez de Cáceres declared the independence from Spain. The new country had the name Estado Independiente del Haití Español ("Independent State of Spanish Haiti"). But on 9 February 1822, the Haitian army occupied the country and stayed for 22 years. Juan Pablo Duarte founded a secret society, La Trinitaria, to fight for the Dominican independence. The Haitian occupation ended on 27 February 1844, when the inhabitants of the eastern part of the Hispaniola made a new country named República Dominicana ("Dominican Republic"). From 1861 to 1865, the country was again a Spanish colony. On 16 August 1863 began the Restoration War when the Dominicans fought to be free again. That war ended in 1865 when the Spanish left and the Dominican Republic was again an independent country.[14]

The country was occupied by the United States from 1916 to 1924. In 1930, Rafael Trujillo became the president of the country through a coup d'état. Trujillo was a cruel dictator, killing thousands of people, among them many Haitians. Trujillo was killed in 1961. After the death of Trujillo, Juan Bosch was elected in 1962 and became, in 1963, the first elected president since 1930. But Bosch was in power for only seven months. In 1965, there was a civil war between those that wanted Bosch back on power and those that were opposed to him. Then the country was invaded again by the United States.

Since the end of the civil war, the presidents of the Dominican Republic have been:[14]

  • Joaquín Balaguer (1966-1978)
  • Antonio Guzmán (1978-1982)
  • Salvador Jorge Blanco (1982-1986)
  • Joaquín Balaguer (1986-1996)
  • Leonel Fernández (1996-2000)
  • Hipólito Mejía (2000-2004)
  • Leonel Fernández (2004-2012)

Government[change | change source]

The Dominican Republic is a presidential democratic republic.[15] The government is divided in three branches: the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. The Executive branch is made up of the President, the Vice President and the Ministers who are called Secretaries of State. The President is chief of state and head of government and is elected every 4 years. He nominates the cabinet. The current president is Luis Abinader.

The Legislative branch makes the laws and is made up of the Congress, which is in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. The Congress is divided into two groups: the Senate, with 32 members (one for every province and one for the National District), and the Chamber of Deputies with 178 members.[16]

The Judicial branch is made up of the courts of the country, including the Supreme Court of Justice.[17]

Politics[change | change source]

The Dominican Republic is a constitutional democracy ruled by a president. The president is elected every 4 years. The current president is Luis Rodolfo Abinader Corona, of the PRM.

There are 3 important political parties in the Dominican Republic:

  • PRD: the Dominican Revolutionary Party (Spanish: Partido Revolucionario Dominicano). The PRD is a somewhat socialist party. The party was founded in 1939 in Havana, Cuba. It was then established in the Dominican Republic in 1961.
  • PRSC: the Social Christian Reformist Party (Spanish: Partido Reformista Social Cristiano). It is a conservative party founded in 1964 by Joaquín Balager, who was President of the Republic from 1966 to 1978 and 1986-96.
  • PLD: the Dominican Liberation Party (Spanish: Partido de la Liberación Dominicana) was somewhat socialist when it was founded in 1973; currently it's a liberal party.

The land[change | change source]

There are several mountain chains in the Dominican Republic. The four main chains, from North to South, are:

  1. Cordillera Septentrional (in English, "Northern mountain range"), close to the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. Cordillera Central (in English, "Central mountain range") that continues into northern Haiti where it is called Massif du Nord. The highest mountains of the West Indies are in this chain; Pico Duarte, with 3,087 m, is the highest.[18] The main rivers of the Hispaniola have their sources in this mountain range.
  3. Sierra de Neiba.
  4. Sierra de Bahoruco, known in Haití as Massif de la Selle.

Between those mountains, there are several important valleys, such as:

  • The Cibao Valley (Dominican Republic) is the largest and most important valley of the country. This long valley stretches from North Haiti to Samaná Bay, south of the Cordillera Septentrional.
  • The San Juan Valley and Plain of Azua are big valleys south of the Cordillera Central.
  • The Hoya de Enriquillo or Neiba Valley is a very arid valley south of Sierra de Neiba.
  • Llano Costero del Caribe (in English, "Caribbean Coastal Plain") is in the southeast of the country. It is a large prairie east of Santo Domingo. There are very important sugar cane plantations in this plain.

There are other smaller valleys in the mountains: Constanza, Jarabacoa, Bonao, Villa Altagracia.[19]

The four most important rivers of the Dominican Republic are Yaque del Norte, Yuna, Yaque del Sur and Ozama. There are many lakes; the largest is the Lake Enriquillo, in the Hoya de Enriquillo.

The country has a tropical climate but modified by elevation and the trade winds (winds that come from the northeast, from the Atlantic Ocean). At sea level, the average temperature is 25 °C, with small changes from one season to another. In the highest mountains, the temperature in winter can be as low as 0 °C.[20]

There are two wet seasons: April-June and September-November. The most dry period is from December to March. Rainfall varies greatly; eastern regions, like the Samaná Peninsula, get an average of over 2,000 mm in a year, but less than 500 mm fall in the southwest (Hoya de Enriquillo).[20]

From June to November, hurricanes are frequent and can do much damage in the island.

People[change | change source]

Population changes in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic has a total population, estimated for July 2009, of 9,650,054 inhabitants, for a density of 236.30 inhabitants per km².

About 64% of Dominicans live in cities and towns and 87% of people that are 15 years old or more can read and write.[21]

The two largest cities are Santo Domingo (the capital city) with 1,817,754 inhabitants, and Santiago, in the Cibao Valley and with 908,250 inhabitants.[21]

The ethnic composition of Dominicans is around 85% Mulatto and Black, 14% White and 1% Asian.

  • Indigenous Dominicans: They are mainly descendants of the Taino people that have survived to the first century of European colonization, slavery or epidemic diseases. They just have a different genetic origin than most Dominicans, but they share the same culture with mulatto and mestizo Dominicans. Most of them have their origins in the Central Mountain Range, the Mountain Range of Neiba and some valleys at the North and South regions.

Provinces[change | change source]

The Dominican Republic is divided into 31 provinces. The national capital Santo Domingo de Guzmán is in the Distrito National that is like a province and elects one Senator.

Map of the provinces of the Dominican Republic.

The provinces are:

  1. Azua
  2. Baoruco
  3. Barahona
  4. Dajabón
  5. Duarte
  6. Elías Piña
  7. El Seibo
  8. Espaillat
  9. Hato Mayor
  10. Independencia
  11. La Altagracia
  12. La Romana
  13. La Vega
  14. María Trinidad Sánchez
  15. Monseñor Nouel
  16. Monte Cristi
  1. Monte Plata
  2. Pedernales
  3. Peravia
  4. Puerto Plata
  5. Hermanas Mirabal
  6. Samaná
  7. Sánchez Ramírez
  8. San Cristóbal
  9. San José de Ocoa
  10. San Juan
  11. San Pedro de Macorís
  12. Santiago
  13. Santiago Rodríguez
  14. Santo Domingo
  15. Valverde
    D.N. - Distrito Nacional

Economy[change | change source]

The Dominican Republic has a mixed economy based mainly on agriculture, services (including tourism and finance), trade and money sent from the many Dominicans that live in other countries (United States, Europe). Agricultural production (mainly sugarcane, with smaller amounts of coffee, cacao, and tobacco) was the main economic activity but now is in third place after tourism and manufacturing in zonas francas ("free zones" where the industries do not pay taxes and all the production is sent to other countries).[16]

Mining is also important, mainly ferronickel (nickel with iron) and gold.

The Dominican Republic suffers from poverty, with 83.3% of the population living below the poverty line in 2012. The wealth distribution is uneven: the richest 10% gets nearly 40% of national income.[16]

Culture[change | change source]

The culture of the Dominican Republic, like in other Caribbean countries, is a mix of Taíno, African and European (mainly Spanish) cultures.

There are not many Taíno traditions in the modern Dominican culture; many places keep their Taíno names: Dajabón, Bánica, Haina, Yaque, Samaná, etc. Also many objects, plants and animals have a Taíno origin and their names have been included in other languages; for example: canoa (canoe, a small boat), hamaca (hammock, a simple bed), maíz (maize, corn), yuca (cassava, that comes from the Taíno word casabe, a kind of cassava bread eaten in the Caribbean), and batata (sweet potato).

That mix of different traditions created a culture that is known as Creole (in Spanish: Criolla), common to all countries in the Caribbean, Louisiana and some parts of South America and Central America.

Languages[change | change source]

In the Dominican Republic, only Spanish is spoken, however; there are 3 major languages that are also spoken such as Haitian Creole, Samana English, and the West African Yoruba language known as Lucumi spoken by few. There is a local dialect or patois which is spoken by all Dominicans - see Dominican Spanish Creole.[22] In the Chinese Dominican community (composed around 60 000 people) elder generations keep talking in Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese Chinese.

Religions[change | change source]

The official religion is Roman Catholicism but there is freedom of religion. Protestant groups are important, representing about 15% of the total population.[16] Each year major festivities called fiestas patronales are held. They are Catholic festivities in honor of the Patron saints of the towns and villages; it is a Spanish tradition to associate every town with a Catholic saint. The festivities includes church services, street parades, fire works, dance contests and other activities. Dominican Voodoo or Santeria is also practiced in large numbers as well as Dominican Palo, Dominican Kongo religion, and others.

African culture has the strongest influence in Dominican culture, especially in language, religion, food, and music.

National holidays[change | change source]

Date Spanish name Local name Remarks
January 1 El Año Nuevo New Year's Day Non-working day.
January 6 Día de los Reyes Magos (Ephiphany) Three Magi Day Movable.
January 21 La Altagracia's Day Our Lady of High Grace Non-working day. A Catholic holiday in honor of Our Lady of High Grace, Patroness of the Dominican People.
January 26 Juan Pablo Duarte's Birthday Juan Pablo Duarte's Day Movable.
February 27 National Independence Independence's Day Non-working day.
Variable date Viernes Santo (Good Friday) Good Friday Non-working day. A Christian (Catholic) holiday.
May 1 International Labor Day Labor Day Movable.
Variable date Corpus Christi Feast of Corpus Non-working day. A Catholic holiday. A Thursday of June (60 days after Easter).
August 16 Nacional Restoration Restoration Day Non-working day.
September 24 Our Lady of Mercy Las Mercedes' Day Non-working day. A Catholic holiday in honor of Our Lady of Mercy, Patroness of the Dominican Republic.
November 6 First Dominican Constitution Constitution Day Movable.
December 24 Noche Buena Christmas Day Non-working day. Many people, both Christians and some people who are not Christians, celebrate Christmas as a winter holiday of peace, friendship, and gift-giving.


  • The non-working holidays are not moved to another day.
  • If a movable holiday falls on Saturday, Sunday or Monday then it is not moved to another day. If it falls on Tuesday or Wednesday, the holiday is moved to the previous Monday. If it falls on Thursday or Friday, the holiday is moved to the next Monday.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Cuarto Censo Nacional de Población, 1960. Santo Domingo: Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas. 1966. p. 32.
  2. Roorda, Eric Paul (April 28, 2016). Historical Dictionary of the Dominican Republic. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9780810879065 – via Google Books.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "CIA – The World Factbook – Dominican Republic". Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Archived from the original on February 13, 2016. Retrieved June 4, 2007.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Embassy of the Dominican Republic, in the United States". Archived from the original on 2015-06-26. Retrieved February 27, 2009.
  5. Historia de la República Dominicana. Ediciones Doce Calles, S.L. 2010. p. 409. ISBN 978-84-00-09240-5. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 International Monetary Fund. "Gross domestic product based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) valuation of country GDP". Retrieved 12 July 2018.
  7. "GINI index (World Bank estimate)". World Bank. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  8. "Human Development Report 2016" (PDF). United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
  9. Convenios bilaterales entre la República Dominicana y Haití [Bilateral arrangements between the Dominican Republic and Haiti] (PDF) (in Spanish). Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de la República Dominicana. August 2000. pp. 15–17. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 22, 2014. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  10. Varios autores (2012). Ruptura y reconciliación. España y el reconocimiento de las independencias latinoamericanas [Rupture and reconciliation. Spain and the recognition of Latin American independence] (in Spanish). Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial España. pp. 30, 206. ISBN 978-84-306-0257-5.
  11. "Dominican Republic history". IExplore. Archived from the original on June 22, 2002. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  12. Columbus, Christopher (1989). The Diario of Christopher Columbus's First Voyage to America, 1492-1493 (Days 5 - 4). de las Casas, Bartolomé, Dunn, O.C., and Kelley, James E. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
  13. Parry, J.H.; Sherlock, Philip (1976). Historia de las Antillas. Buenos Aires: Editorial Kapelusz. p. 9.
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Dominican Republic". EveryCulture. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  15. "Leonel Fernandez President of the Republic". la République dominicaine. Archived from the original on November 18, 2006. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 "CIA Factbook: Dominican Republic". CIA Factbook. Archived from the original on 2016-02-13. Retrieved 2007-09-17.
  17. "Legalsystem". TheDominicanRepublic.net. Archived from the original on May 17, 2000. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  18. De la Fuente, Santiago (1976). Geografía Dominicana (in Spanish). Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Editora Colegial Quisqueyana. p. 38.
  19. "Cities and towns". TheDominicanRepublic.net. Archived from the original on November 19, 2000. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Climate caribbean". Worldtravelguide. Archived from the original on August 25, 2007. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Censo 2002 de Población y Vivienda, Oficina Nacional de Estadistica Archived 2009-04-01 at the Wayback Machine In Spanish
  22. "Dominican Republic". EvertCulture. Retrieved January 21, 2010.

Other websites[change | change source]