Dominican Republic is part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean, other countries or islands include Cuba, the Cayman Islands, Haiti, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Of these, the Dominican Republic is the second largest in area and population, behind Cuba.
The country occupies the greater part of the island of Hispaniola, the western three-eighths of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti. Making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that are shared by two countries
The geography is mountainous, includes the highest mountain in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, as well as the largest lake, Lake Enriquillo. There are four main mountain regions on the island, including Cordillera Septentrional in the north, the Cordillera Central going southwards and containing the four highest peaks in the Caribbean, the Sierra de Neiba and the Sierra de Bahoruco in the southwest. Between the mountains are the rich and fertile Cibao valley and the Llano Costero del Caribe (Caribbean Coastal Plain), including four major rivers, the Yaque del Norte, the Yuna River, the San Juan River and the Artibonito river.
The largest city is Greater Santo Domingo with almost 3 million people, followed by Santiago, Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo Este, Santo Domingo Norte and Santo Domingo Oeste.
The country experiences a tropical climate with seasonal changes in temperature. Rainfall varies according to seasons. The island has an average temperature of 26 °C (78.8 °F) and great biological diversity.
The country was inhabited by the Tainos since around 650 AD
Christopher Columbus landed on the Dominican Republic in 1492, becoming the first European settlement in the Americas, specifically the place that is now called Santo Domingo.
Between 1795 and 1802, the French moved in as the Spanish had moved on to other parts of the Americas, lasting until 1808 with a revolt and bringing it back to Spanish influence.
After three centuries of Spanish rule, with French and Haitian interludes, the country became independent in 1821
The Dominican flag is the only one to have a bible in it. Adopted on November 6, 1844, this is one of the oldest flags in the world. It has its roots in the Haitian flag of the 19th century.
Santo Domingo is North and South America's first capital city, the site of the first catholic cathedral, first university and hospital. Some of the original buildings have been restored and can be visited in Santo Domingo's Colonial City.
The oldest Cathedral in the world is situated in Santo Domingo, founded in 1496. The first stone for the Cathedral was laid in 1514 by Diego Columbus, Christopher Columbus' son.
The Amber Museum in Puerto Plata houses the famous amber stone with a prehistoric mosquito preserved inside, which can be seen in the box office hit, Jurassic Park.
The Dominican Republic is a representative democracy or democratic republic, with three branches of power: executive, legislative, and judicial.
The President of the Dominican Republic heads the executive branch and executes laws passed by the Congress, appoints the Cabinet, and is commander in chief of the armed forces.
The president and vice-president run for office on the same ticket and are elected by direct vote for 4-year terms.
The Dominican Republic comprises of 31 provinces which are further divided into municipalities.
There are many political parties and advocacy groups and civil organizations. The three major parties are the conservative Social Christian Reformist Party; the social democratic Dominican Revolutionary Party and the centrist liberal and reformist Dominican Liberation Party.
The currency used in the Dominican Republic is the Dominican Peso.
The Dominican Republic has the ninth largest economy in Latin America and the second largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region.
Though long known for sugar production, the economy is now dominated by services. The country's economic progress is exemplified by its advanced telecommunication system, and transportation infrastructure.
The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean; there are about 4.3 million visitors or tourists per year. The year-round golf courses are among the top attractions on the island.
A large Dominican diaspora exists, most of it in the United States. They aid national development as they send billions of dollars to their families.
The Dominican Republic is known as the bread basket of the Caribbean because it grows, farms and catches almost everything that's served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The country is one of the top ten producers of cocoa in the world.
People & Culture
There are about 9.5 million people living in the Dominican Republic.
The language used is Spanish with a local dialect called Dominican Spanish, with influences from African and Arawak languages. English is taught as a secondary language and Haitian Creole is also used in some communities.
Catholicism is the predominant religion current in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic is credited with creating and developing the merengue style of music, which is a fast-paced, rhythmic dance music.
The national sport of the Dominican Republic is baseball. Some of the world's best baseball players are Dominicans. Greg Aquino, Tony Batista, Juan Brito, and Freddy Guzman are just a small few.
Dominican Oscar de la Renta is one of the best-known fashion designers of the 21st century. Born in Santo Domingo, his clothes are worn by celebrities such as Laura Bush, former first lady of the US and Congresswoman Hillary Clinton.
Author, Julia Alverez; actress, Zoe Saldana; and artist, Dario Suro are all from the Dominican Republic.
Director Francis Ford Coppola filmed scenes of The Godfather Part II in the Dominican Republic's capital city, Santo Domingo.
The cuisine in the Dominican Republic is a mixture of Spanish, indigenous Taino and African influences. The largest and most important daily meal is lunch, commonly including rice, red beans, a meat (such as beef, pork, chick or fish) and salad. Taino dishes include Guanimos, or tamales stuffed and wrapped with a banana leaf or cornhusk. Spanish dishes include Paella using local fish, Chicharron (fried pork rinds) and Empanadas. African dishes include Mangu, a mashed and boiled plantain. Other dishes include Mondongo (beef tripe soup), Sancocho (a stew with a mixture of meats or fish along with vegetables such as cassava, corn, potatoes, yautia and yams) and others.
Drinks or beverages in the Dominican Republic include Mama Juana, a mixture of rum, red wine and honey soaked in a bottle with tree bark and herbs.
Coffee is a national non-alcoholic drink and the most popular Dominican coffee is Cafe Santo Domingo.