Dominican Republic is one island but two countries. It shares the island with its neighbor to its west, Haiti. Dominican Republic is a country of the West Indies that occupies the eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola, the second largest island of the Greater Antilles chain in the Caribbean Sea. Haiti, also an independent republic, occupies the western third of the island. The national capital is Santo Domingo, on the southern coast. Climate is relatively mild tropical, though it lies well within the tropical zone. Annual temperatures are 77 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a population of approx. 10M. Spanish is the official language, though apart from English, French is also a mandatory foreign language taught in schools.
Before the Europeans arrived a people called the Arawaks lived there. However on 6 December 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on the northwest and called the island Espanola, which was later anglicized as Hispaniola.
Spanish settlers founded San Domingo in 1596. However, a hundred years after Columbus discovered Hispaniola European diseases and war had almost exterminated the Arawaks.
Meanwhile, the Spanish claimed ownership of the whole island but they settled mainly in the east, in what is now the Dominican Republic. During the 16th century, vast numbers of African slaves were imported into the island and they were forced to work on sugar plantations.
The west of the island was left largely empty and in the 17th century, the French settled there. Finally in 1697 the Spanish and French signed the Treaty of Ryswick. France was given the western third of the island of Hispaniola. The rest remained in Spanish hands.
Haiti became independent in 1804 but in 1821 the Haitians occupied what is now the Dominican Republic. However, Dominican Republic became independent in 1844. Its first president was Pedro Santana but he made himself effectively a dictator. The Dominican Republic also suffered a number of invasions from Haiti.
In 1861 Santana made the Dominican Republic a province of Spain. The Spanish deposed him in 1862 and in 1863 the people rose in revolt. A guerilla war began called the War of Restoration and the Spanish withdrew in 1867. In 1916 the USA afraid that Germany might intervene in the Dominican Republic occupied the country. The American occupation lasted until 1924. Elections were then held and Horacio Vasquez became president of the Dominican Republic.
However, in 1930 Rafael Trujillo staged a coup and became a dictator. Trujillo ruled the Dominican Republic for 31 years till he was assassinated in 1961. In 1962 elections were held and Juan Bosch led a new government.
However, in 1963 the army staged a coup. In 1965 the people rebelled but the USA intervened. President Johnson sent US Marines to the Dominican Republic. A provisional government ruled for one year until 1966 when Joaquin Balaguer was elected president.
Balaguer was president until 1978 and under him some economic development took place. He was replaced by Antonio Guzman. He committed suicide in 1982. Jorge Blanco was president of the Dominican Republic until 1986 when Balaguer replaced him. He was re-elected in 1990. In 1994 Balaguer was elected again but the election was rigged. However, to avoid violence an agreement was made with the opposition. Balaguer agreed to step down after 2 years.
In 1996 Leonel Fernandez became president of the Dominican Republic. Fernandez lost power in 2000 but was re-elected in 2004. He was elected again in 2012. Danilo Medina was elected in 2016. In 2020, Luis Rodolfo Abinader Corona was elected the 54th President of Dominican Republic.
Today, the Dominican Republic still exports sugar and coffee but tourism is a rapidly growing industry. Although the Dominican Republic is still poor the economy is growing strongly. Today the population of the Dominican Republic is 10.7 million.
What makes DOMINICAN REPUBLIC unique?
Dominican Republic is known for their Meregue & Bachata music, Dominican rum, home of the highest mountain in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte is 3,087 meters above sea level. Its Capital, Santo Domingo, is considered the “First City of the New World”, although it was not the first settlement founded by the Spanish colonists.