Dominican Republic

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Dominican Republic
República Dominicana (Spanish)
Motto: "Dios, Patria, Libertad" (Spanish)
"God, Homeland, Freedom"
Anthem:  ¡Quisqueyanos Valientes!
Valiant Quisqueyans! 
Dominican Republic (orthographic projection).svg
and largest city
Santo Domingo
19°00′N70°40′W / 19.000°N 70.667°W / 19.000; -70.667
Official languages Spanish
Other spoken languages See below
Ethnic groups
(2021) [1]
(2018) [2]
  • 29.6% no religion
  • 1.7% other
  • 2.0% unspecified
Demonym(s) Dominican
Quisqueyan (colloquial) [3]
Government Unitary presidential republic [4]
Luis Abinader
Raquel Peña de Antuña
Legislature Congress
Chamber of Deputies
1844–1861 [5]
1865–1916 [6]
1924–1965 [7] [8]
 Fourth Republic
1966–present [9]
48,671 km2 (18,792 sq mi)(128th)
 Water (%)
0.7 [4]
 2024 estimate
Increase2.svg 11,434,005 [10] (88th)
220/km2 (569.8/sq mi)(65th)
GDP  (PPP)2024 estimate
Increase2.svg $294.562 billion [11] (64th)
 Per capita
Increase2.svg $27,231 [11] (67th)
GDP  (nominal)2024 estimate
Increase2.svg $127.913 billion [11] (64th)
 Per capita
Increase2.svg $11,825 [11] (74th)
Gini  (2022)Decrease Positive.svg 37 [12]
HDI  (2022)Increase2.svg 0.766 [13]
high (82nd)
Currency Dominican peso [14] (DOP)
Time zone UTC   – 4:00 [4] (Atlantic Standard Time)
Driving side right
Calling code +1-809, +1-829, +1-849
ISO 3166 code DO
Internet TLD .do [4]
Sources for area, capital, coat of arms, coordinates, flag, language, motto and names:  [14]
For an alternate area figure of 48,730 km2 (18,810 sq mi), calling code 809 and Internet TLD:  [4]

The Dominican Republic [lower-alpha 1] is a country on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the north. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with Haiti, [15] [16] making Hispaniola one of only two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that is shared by two sovereign states. It is the second-largest nation in the Antilles by area (after Cuba) at 48,671 square kilometers (18,792 sq mi), and second-largest by population, with approximately 11.4 million people in 2024, of whom approximately 3.6 million live in the metropolitan area of Santo Domingo, the capital city. [4] [17] [18]


The native Taíno people had inhabited Hispaniola before the arrival of Europeans, dividing it into five chiefdoms. [4] Christopher Columbus explored and claimed the island for Castile, landing there on his first voyage in 1492. [4] The colony of Santo Domingo became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas and the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World. In 1697, Spain recognized French dominion over the western third of the island, which became the independent state of Haiti in 1804. [4]

The Dominican people declared independence from Spain in November 1821. [4] The colony of Santo Domingo was regionally divided with many rival and competing provincial leaders during the 1800s. Dominicans were often at war fighting against the French, Haitians, Spanish, or amongst themselves, resulting in a society heavily influenced by military strongmen. Santo Domingo attained independence as the Dominican Republic in 1844 when Dominican nationalists led an insurrection against the Haitians. Over the next decades, the Dominican Republic experienced several civil wars, battles against Haiti, and a brief return to Spanish colonial status, before permanently ousting the Spanish during the Dominican War of Restoration of 1863–1865. [19] [20] [21] The U.S. occupied the Dominican Republic (1916–1924) due to threats of defaulting on foreign debts; a subsequent calm and prosperous six-year period under Horacio Vásquez followed. From 1930 the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo ruled until his assassination in 1961. [4] Juan Bosch was elected president in 1962 but was deposed in a military coup in 1963. A civil war in 1965, the country's last, was ended by U.S. military intervention and was followed by the authoritarian rule of Joaquín Balaguer (1966–1978 and 1986–1996). Since 1978, the Dominican Republic has moved toward representative democracy. [22]

The Dominican Republic has the largest economy (according to the U.S. State Department and the World Bank) in the Caribbean and Central American region and is the seventh-largest economy in Latin America. [23] [24] Over the last 25 years, the Dominican Republic has had the fastest-growing economy in the Western Hemisphere – with an average real GDP growth rate of 5.3% between 1992 and 2018. [25] GDP growth in 2014 and 2015 reached 7.3 and 7.0%, respectively, the highest in the Western Hemisphere. [25] Recent growth has been driven by construction, manufacturing, tourism, and mining. The country is the site of the third largest (in terms of production) gold mine in the world, the Pueblo Viejo mine. [26] [27]

The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. [28] The year-round golf courses and resorts are major attractions. [29] A geographically diverse nation, the Dominican Republic is home to both the Caribbean's tallest mountain peak, Pico Duarte, and the Caribbean's largest lake and lowest point, Lake Enriquillo. [30] The island has an average temperature of 26 °C (78.8 °F) and great climatic and biological diversity. [29]

The country is also the site of the first cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress built in the Americas, located in Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone, a World Heritage Site. [31] [32]


The name Dominican originates from Saint Dominic, [33] the patron saint of astronomers, and founder of the Dominican Order.

The Dominican Order established a house of high studies on the colony of Santo Domingo that is now known as the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, the first University in the New World. They dedicated themselves to the education of the inhabitants of the island, and to the protection of the native Taíno people who were subjected to slavery. [34]

For most of its history, up until independence, the colony was known simply as Santo Domingo [35] – the name of its present capital and patron saint, Saint Dominic – and continued to be commonly known as such in English until the early 20th century. [36] The residents were called "Dominicans" (Dominicanos), the adjectival form of "Domingo", and as such, the revolutionaries named their newly independent country the "Dominican Republic" (la República Dominicana).

In the national anthem of the Dominican Republic (himno nacional de la República Dominicana), the term "Dominicans" does not appear. The author of its lyrics, Emilio Prud'Homme, consistently uses the poetic term "Quisqueyans" (Quisqueyanos). The word "Quisqueya" derives from the Taíno language, and means "mother of the lands" (madre de las tierras). It is often used in songs as another name for the country. The name of the country in English is often shortened to "the D.R." (la R.D.), but this is rare in Spanish. [37]


Pre-European history

The five caciquedoms of Hispaniola Copia de Cacicazgos de la Hispaniola.png
The five caciquedoms of Hispaniola
Pictografia igneri.jpg
Taino pictographs Cuevas de las Maravillas.jpg
The Pomier Caves are a series of 55 caves located north of San Cristóbal. They contain the largest collection of 2,000-year-old rock art in the Caribbean.

The Arawakan-speaking Taíno moved into Hispaniola from the north east region of what is now known as South America, displacing earlier inhabitants, [38] c.650 C.E. They engaged in farming, fishing, [39] hunting and gathering. [38] The fierce Caribs drove the Taíno to the northeastern Caribbean, during much of the 15th century. [40] The estimates of Hispaniola's population in 1492 vary widely, including tens of thousands, [41] one hundred thousand, [42] three hundred thousand, [38] and four hundred thousand to two million. [43] Determining precisely how many people lived on the island in pre-Columbian times is next to impossible, as no accurate records exist. [44] By 1492, the island was divided into five Taíno chiefdoms. [45] [46] The Taíno name for the entire island was either Ayiti or Quisqueya. [47] [ better source needed ]

The Spaniards arrived in 1492. Initially, after friendly relationships, the Taínos resisted the conquest, led by the female Chief Anacaona of Xaragua and her ex-husband Chief Caonabo of Maguana, as well as Chiefs Guacanagaríx, Guamá, Hatuey, and Enriquillo. The latter's successes gained his people an autonomous enclave for a time on the island. Within a few years after 1492, the population of Taínos had declined drastically, due to smallpox, [48] measles, and other diseases that arrived with the Europeans. [49]

The first recorded smallpox outbreak, in the Americas, occurred on Hispaniola in 1507. [49] The last record of pure Taínos in the country was from 1864. Still, Taíno biological heritage survived to an important extent, due to intermixing. Census records from 1514 reveal that 40% of Spanish men in Santo Domingo were married to Taíno women, [50] and some present-day Dominicans have Taíno ancestry. [51] [52] Remnants of the Taíno culture include their cave paintings, [53] such as the Pomier Caves, as well as pottery designs, which are still used in the small artisan village of Higüerito, Moca. [54]

European colonization

Christopher Columbus arrived on the island on December 5, 1492, during the first of his four voyages to the Americas. He claimed the land for Spain and named it La Española, due to its diverse climate and terrain, which reminded him of the Spanish landscape. [55] In 1493, fighting broke out between the Spanish and the Taíno, resulting in the deaths of 39 Spaniards and the destruction of their fort, La Navidad. In 1496, Bartholomew Columbus, Christopher's brother, built the city of Santo Domingo, Western Europe's first permanent settlement in the "New World". The Spaniards created a plantation economy on the island. [42] The colony became the springboard for the Spanish conquest and exploration of Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cuba, Darién (Panama) and Yucatán (Mexico).

After the near-total destruction of the Taíno population, a successful resistance took place between 1519 and 1534. Seeking refuge in the Bahoruco mountains, the Taínos raided Spanish plantations, defeated patrols, and negotiated the first truce between an Amerindian chief and a European monarch. The Taínos were pardoned and granted their own town and charter. African slaves were imported to replace the dwindling Taínos.

After its conquest of the Aztecs and Incas, Spain neglected its Caribbean holdings. Hispaniola's sugar plantation economy quickly declined. Most Spanish colonists left for the silver-mines of Mexico and Peru, while new immigrants from Spain bypassed the island. Agriculture dwindled, enslaved people were no longer transported to the island, and white colonists, free Black people, and enslaved Black people alike lived in poverty. The breakdown of racial and class-based social hierarchies facilitated an increase in cross-cultural contact, resulting in a population of predominantly mixed Spanish, Taíno, and African descent. Except for the city of Santo Domingo, which managed to maintain some legal exports, Dominican ports were forced to rely on contraband trade, which, along with livestock, became one of the main sources of livelihood for the island's inhabitants.

Situation of the island of Hispaniola during the devastations of Osorio, 1605-1606 The Devastations of Osorio.svg
Situation of the island of Hispaniola during the devastations of Osorio, 1605–1606

In 1603, Philip III of Spain issued a mandate to depopulate towns in the north and west of Hispaniola, ordering the relocation of the inhabitants to the southeast to curb contraband trade. The inhabitants resisted, but Governor Antonio de Osorio carried out the king's orders. His troops hanged insurgents, demolished property, and burned the towns. [56] All the inhabitants were forcibly removed from these regions and strictly prohibited from returning under the penalty of death. This resulted in Spain abandoning half the island. [56]

In the mid-17th century, France sent colonists to settle the island of Tortuga and the northwestern coast of Hispaniola (which the Spaniards had abandoned by 1606) due to its strategic position in the region. In order to entice the pirates, France supplied them with women who had been taken from prisons, accused of prostitution and thieving. After decades of armed struggles with the French settlers, Spain ceded the western coast of the island to France with the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick, whilst the Central Plateau remained under Spanish domain. France created a wealthy colony on the island, while the Spanish colony continued to suffer economic decline. [57]

18th and early 19th century

The House of Bourbon replaced the House of Habsburg in Spain in 1700, and introduced economic reforms that gradually began to revive trade in Santo Domingo. The crown progressively relaxed the rigid controls and restrictions on commerce between Spain and the colonies and among the colonies. The last flotas sailed in 1737; the monopoly port system was abolished shortly thereafter. By the middle of the century, the population was bolstered by emigration from the Canary Islands, resettling the northern part of the colony and planting tobacco in the Cibao Valley, and the importation of slaves was renewed.

Santo Domingo's exports soared and the island's agricultural productivity rose, which was assisted by the involvement of Spain in the Seven Years' War, allowing privateers operating out of Santo Domingo to once again patrol surrounding waters for enemy merchantmen. [58] Dominican privateers in the service of the Spanish Crown had already been active in the War of Jenkins' Ear just two decades prior, and they sharply reduced the amount of enemy trade operating in West Indian waters. [58] The prizes they took were carried back to Santo Domingo, where their cargoes were sold to the colony's inhabitants or to foreign merchants doing business there. The enslaved population of the colony also rose, as numerous captive Africans were taken from enemy slave ships in West Indian waters. [58] [59]

Map showing the border situation on Hispaniola following the Treaty of Aranjuez (1777) Treaty of Aranjuez English.svg
Map showing the border situation on Hispaniola following the Treaty of Aranjuez (1777)

The colony of Santo Domingo saw a population increase during the 18th century, as it rose to about 91,272 in 1750. Of this number, approximately 38,272 were white landowners, 38,000 were free multiracial people of color, and some 15,000 were enslaved people. This contrasted sharply with the population of the French colony of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) – the wealthiest colony in the Caribbean and whose population of one-half a million was 90% enslaved and overall, seven times as numerous as the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo. [57] [60] As restrictions on colonial trade were relaxed, the colonial elites of Saint-Domingue offered the principal market for Santo Domingo's exports of beef, hides, mahogany, and tobacco. With the outbreak of the Haitian Revolution in 1791, the rich urban families linked to the colonial bureaucracy fled the island, while most of the rural hateros (cattle ranchers) remained, even though they lost their principal market.

Inspired by disputes between white people and mulatto people in Saint-Domingue, a slave revolt broke out in the French colony. In 1795, Spain ceded Santo Domingo to France by the Treaty of Basel. By 1804, the mulattoes and former slaves, with the aid of yellow fever, had driven the French and British out of Saint-Domingue, establishing Haiti, while a small French garrison remained in Santo Domingo.

In October 1808, the Dominicans revolted against the French colonial administrators in the city of Santo Domingo, opposing Governor General Louis Ferrand's decision to stop trade with Haiti. [61] The Dominicans annihilated Ferrand's small army in close-quarters combat at the Battle of Palo Hincado, killing or capturing 400 out of 500 enemy troops, at the cost of only 7 of their own killed. Afterward, the French governor committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. The Dominicans, aided by a British fleet and Spanish soldiers from Puerto Rico, besieged the remaining French defenders in the capital. The French, averse to facing public and historical disgrace by submitting to the Dominicans, surrendered to the British on July 11, 1809, after eight months of siege, which led to the return of Santo Domingo to Spanish rule. During the siege of Santo Domingo, 3,300 French citizens fled the city, representing nearly half of its population. In 1809, the Spanish government in Cuba expelled the French from the island, resulting in their mass exodus to New Orleans and other regions. This marked the end of 200 years of French presence in Hispaniola.

Ephemeral independence

After a dozen years of discontent and failed independence plots by various opposing groups, including a failed 1812 revolt led by Dominican conspirators José Leocadio, Pedro de Seda, and Pedro Henríquez, Santo Domingo's former Lieutenant-Governor (top administrator), José Núñez de Cáceres, declared the colony's independence from the Spanish crown as Spanish Haiti, on November 30, 1821. This period is also known as the Ephemeral independence. [62]

Haitian occupation of Santo Domingo (1822–1844)

Hispaniola Hispaniola 1820-1822.png

The newly independent republic ended a mere two months later, when it was occupied and annexed by Haiti, then under the leadership of Jean-Pierre Boyer. [63] As Toussaint Louverture had done two decades earlier, the Haitians abolished slavery. Boyer attempts to redistribute land conflicted with the system of communal land tenure (terrenos comuneros), which had arisen with the ranching economy, and some people resented being forced to grow cash crops under Boyer and Joseph Balthazar Inginac's Code Rural. [lower-alpha 2] In the rural and rugged mountainous areas, the Haitian administration was usually too inefficient to enforce its own laws. It was in the city of Santo Domingo that the effects of the occupation were most acutely felt, and it was there that the movement for independence originated.

Haiti's constitution forbade white elites from owning land, and Dominican major landowning families were forcibly deprived of their properties. Many emigrated to Cuba, Puerto Rico, or Gran Colombia, usually with the encouragement of Haitian officials who acquired their lands. The Haitians associated the Roman Catholic Church with the French slave-masters who had exploited them before independence and confiscated all church property, deported all foreign clergy, and severed the ties of the remaining clergy to the Vatican. All levels of education collapsed; the university was shut down, as it was starved both of resources and students, with young Dominican men from 16 to 25 years old being drafted into the Haitian army. Boyer's occupation troops, who were largely Dominicans, were unpaid and had to "forage and sack" from Dominican civilians. Haiti imposed heavy taxes on the Dominican people. [64] [ page needed ]

Dominican War of Independence (1844–1856)

Juan Pablo Duarte, founding father of the Dominican Republic. Juan pablo duarte diez.jpg
Juan Pablo Duarte, founding father of the Dominican Republic.

In 1838, Juan Pablo Duarte founded a secret society called La Trinitaria, which sought the complete independence of Santo Domingo without any foreign intervention. [65] :p147–149 Also Francisco del Rosario Sánchez and Ramon Matias Mella, despite not being among the founding members of La Trinitaria, were decisive in the fight for independence. Duarte, Mella, and Sánchez are considered the three Founding Fathers of the Dominican Republic. [66]

In 1843, the new Haitian president, Charles Rivière-Hérard, exiled or imprisoned the leading Trinitarios (Trinitarians). After subduing the Dominicans, Rivière-Hérard, a mulatto, faced a rebellion by blacks in Port-au-Prince. Haiti had formed two regiments composed of Dominicans from the city of Santo Domingo; these were used by Rivière-Hérard to suppress the uprising.

Original flag of the Dominican Republic (up to 1849) Flag of the Dominican Republic (up to 1844).svg
Original flag of the Dominican Republic (up to 1849)

On February 27, 1844, the surviving members of La Trinitaria, now led by Tomás Bobadilla, declared independence from Haiti. The Trinitarios were backed by Pedro Santana, a wealthy cattle rancher from El Seibo, who became general of the army of the nascent republic. The Dominican Republic's first Constitution was adopted on November 6, 1844, and was modeled after the United States Constitution. [39] The decades that followed were filled with tyranny, factionalism, economic difficulties, rapid changes of government, and exile for political opponents. Archrivals Santana and Buenaventura Báez held power most of the time, both ruling arbitrarily. They promoted competing plans to annex the new nation to another power: Santana favored Spain, and Báez the United States.

Threatening the nation's independence were renewed Haitian invasions. In March 1844, Rivière-Hérard attempted to reimpose his authority, but the Dominicans put up stiff opposition and inflicted heavy casualties on the Haitians, [61] compelling them to retreat back into Haiti after a short war. In the first major battle of the Dominican War of Independence (the Battle of Azua on March 19, 1844), Haitian troops suffered over 1,000 dead, while only 2 Dominicans were killed. This pattern of disproportionate losses for the Haitians continued throughout the war.

In early July 1844, Duarte was urged by his followers to take the title of President of the Republic. Duarte agreed, but only if free elections were arranged. However, Santana's forces took Santo Domingo on July 12, and they declared Santana ruler of the Dominican Republic. Santana then put Mella, Duarte, and Sánchez in jail. On February 27, 1845, Santana executed María Trinidad Sánchez, heroine of La Trinitaria, and others for conspiracy.

In August 1845, Haiti made another attempt to conquer the Dominican Republic. However, this time the Dominicans were better prepared, and the Haitian army was unable to advance beyond Las Matas de Farfán. Later that year, the Haitians tried a naval attack, but their efforts ended in failure when the ships ran aground in Puerto Plata harbor, and all the sailors were captured. In November–December 1849, Dominican seamen raided the Haitian coasts, plundered seaside villages, as far as Dame Marie, and butchered crews of captured enemy ships. [67] [68] Two more attempts by Haiti to conquer the Dominican Republic, in 1849 and 1855–56, ended in failure.

First Republic

Buenaventura Baez.gif
Pedro Santana and Buenaventura Báez, the caudillos who led the Dominican Republic during its first republican period

The Dominican Republic's first constitution was adopted on November 6, 1844. The state was commonly known as Santo Domingo in English until the early 20th century. [69] It featured a presidential form of government with many liberal tendencies, but it was marred by Article 210, imposed by Pedro Santana on the constitutional assembly by force, giving him the privileges of a dictatorship until the war of independence was over. These privileges not only served him to win the war but also allowed him to persecute, execute and drive into exile his political opponents, among which Duarte was the most important.

The population of the Dominican Republic in 1845 was approximately 230,000 people (100,000 whites; 40,000 blacks; and 90,000 mulattoes). [70] Due to the rugged mountainous terrain of the island the regions of the Dominican Republic developed in isolation from one another. In the south, also known at the time as Ozama, the economy was dominated by cattle-ranching (particularly in the southeastern savannah) and cutting mahogany and other hardwoods for export. This region retained a semi-feudal character, with little commercial agriculture, the hacienda as the dominant social unit, and the majority of the population living at a subsistence level. In the north (better known as Cibao), the nation's richest farmland, farmers supplemented their subsistence crops by growing tobacco for export, mainly to Germany. Tobacco required less land than cattle ranching and was mainly grown by smallholders, who relied on itinerant traders to transport their crops to Puerto Plata and Monte Cristi. Santana antagonized the Cibao farmers, enriching himself and his supporters at their expense by resorting to multiple peso printings that allowed him to buy their crops for a fraction of their value. In 1848, he was forced to resign and was succeeded by his vice-president, Manuel Jimenes.

After defeating a new Haitian invasion in 1849, Santana marched on Santo Domingo and deposed Jimenes in a coup d'état. At his behest, Congress elected Buenaventura Báez as president, but Báez was unwilling to serve as Santana's puppet, challenging his role as the country's acknowledged military leader. In November 1849, Báez launched a naval offensive against Haiti. A Dominican squadron appeared off the Haitian coast, capturing prizes. On November 4, the squadron bombarded Anse-à-Pitres and conducted a landing operation, seizing booty. [71] The next day, the Dominican ships bombarded Les Cayes, captured a schooner, and sank several smaller boats. [71] Although plans were made to sail up the Windward Passage between Haiti and Cuba in search of more prizes, a mutiny among the Dominican crews forced their return to the port of Santo Domingo. [71] Báez dispatched a second naval expedition against Haiti. On December 3, the squadron commanded by Juan Alejandro Acosta bombarded and burned the town of Petit Rivière. [71] Two days later, Dominican and Haitian flotillas encountered each other off Les Cayes, but a storm broke up the battle. [71]

As the fighting disrupted sea commerce, the major maritime powers became involved. On March 6, 1850, the United Kingdom and the Dominican Republic signed a commercial treaty. On December 19 of that year, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States declared to the Haitian government that if it persisted in invading the Dominican Republic, they would take appropriate measures. [71]

In 1853, Santana was elected president for his second term, forcing Báez into exile. Three years later, he negotiated a treaty leasing a portion of Samaná Peninsula to a U.S. company; popular opposition forced him to abdicate, enabling Báez to return and seize power. With the treasury depleted, Báez printed eighteen million uninsured pesos, purchasing the 1857 tobacco crop with this currency and exporting it for hard cash at immense profit to himself and his followers. Cibao tobacco planters, who were ruined when hyperinflation ensued, revolted and formed a new government headed by José Desiderio Valverde and headquartered in Santiago de los Caballeros. In July 1857, General Juan Luis Franco Bidó besieged Santo Domingo. The Cibao-based government declared an amnesty to exiles and Santana returned and managed to replace Franco Bidó in September 1857. After a year of civil war, Santana captured Santo Domingo in June 1858, overthrew both Báez and Valverde and installed himself as president. [72]

Restoration republic

Pedro Santana is sworn in as governor-general of the new Spanish province. Jura del gobernador y capitan general de Santo Domingo, don Pedro Santana (Museo del Prado).jpg
Pedro Santana is sworn in as governor-general of the new Spanish province.

In 1861, after imprisoning, silencing, exiling, and executing many of his opponents and due to political and economic reasons, Santana asked Queen Isabella II of Spain to retake control of the Dominican Republic, after a period of only 17 years of independence. Spain, which had not come to terms with the loss of its American colonies 40 years earlier, accepted his proposal and made the country a colony again. [73] Haiti, fearful of the reestablishment of Spain as colonial power, gave refuge and logistics to revolutionaries seeking to reestablish the independent nation of the Dominican Republic. The ensuing civil war, known as the War of Restoration, claimed more than 50,000 lives. [74]

The War of Restoration began on August 16, 1863. Spain deployed 63,000 troops: 41,000 Spanish soldiers, 12,000 Dominican militias from the provinces of Azua, Santo Domingo, El Seibo, and the town of Baní, and 10,000 Cuban and Puerto Rican volunteers. [75] The Spanish garrison of Santiago was forced to retreat to Puerto Plata by mid-September. According to the New York Times, the Dominicans bombarded the port of Puerto Plata and destroyed much of the town, with very few houses left standing. [76] The estimated cost of the damages to Santiago and Puerto Plata caused by the fighting were at $5 million ($120 million today). [77] In the south, Dominican forces under José María Cabral defeated the Spanish in the Battle of La Canela on December 4, 1864. The victory showed the Dominicans that they could defeat the Spaniards in pitched battle. [78] After nearly two years of fighting, Spain abandoned the island in July 1865. The Spanish war effort in the Dominican Republic cost Spain 129 million dollars ($1.3 billion in today's money) and resulted in the deaths of 18,000 Spanish soldiers. [75] In addition, the Cubans, Puerto Ricans and pro-Spanish Dominicans suffered 5,000 dead. [75] The rebels, who numbered between 15,000 and 17,000, suffered 6,000 dead and 4,000 wounded. [75] Another source puts Spanish battle casualties at 10,888 killed or wounded.

Political strife again prevailed in the following years; warlords ruled, military revolts were extremely common, and the nation amassed debt. In 1869, U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant ordered U.S. Marines to the island for the first time. [79] Pirates operating from Haiti had been raiding U.S. commercial shipping in the Caribbean, and Grant directed the Marines to stop them at their source. [79] Following the virtual takeover of the island, Báez offered to sell the country to the United States. [79] Grant desired a naval base at Samaná and also a place for resettling newly freed African Americans. [80] The treaty, which included U.S. payment of $1.5 million for Dominican debt repayment, was defeated in the United States Senate in 1870 [63] on a vote of 28–28, two-thirds being required. [81] [82] [83] Báez was toppled in 1874, returned, and was toppled for good in 1878. A new generation was thence in charge, with the passing of Santana (he died in 1864) and Báez from the scene.

During the 19th century, the Dominican Republic lost a higher percentage of its population to war than did the United States. [84] Relative peace came to the country in the 1880s, which saw the coming to power of General Ulises Heureaux. [85] "Lilís", as the new president was nicknamed, enjoyed a period of popularity. He was, however, "a consummate dissembler", who put the nation deep into debt while using much of the proceeds for his personal use and to maintain his police state. Heureaux became rampantly despotic and unpopular. [85] [86] In 1899, he was assassinated. However, the relative calm over which he presided allowed improvement in the Dominican economy. The sugar industry was modernized, [87] :p10 and the country attracted foreign workers and immigrants.

Lebanese, Syrians, Turks, and Palestinians began to arrive in the country during the latter part of the 19th century. [88] At first, the Arab immigrants often faced discrimination in the Dominican Republic, but they were eventually assimilated into Dominican society, giving up their own culture and language. [88] During the U.S. occupation of 1916–24, peasants from the countryside, called Gavilleros, would not only kill U.S. Marines, but would also attack and kill Arab vendors traveling through the countryside. [89]

20th century (1900–1930)

President Alejandro Woss y Gil taking office in 1903 Alejandro Woss y Gil.jpg
President Alejandro Woss y Gil taking office in 1903

From 1902 on, short-lived governments were again the norm, with their power usurped by caudillos in parts of the country. Furthermore, the national government was bankrupt and, unable to pay its debts to European creditors, faced the threat of military intervention by France, Germany, and Italy. [90] United States President Theodore Roosevelt sought to prevent European intervention, largely to protect the routes to the future Panama Canal, as the canal was already under construction. He made a small military intervention to ward off European powers, to proclaim his famous Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, and also to obtain his 1905 Dominican agreement for U.S. administration of Dominican customs, which was the chief source of income for the Dominican government. A 1906 agreement provided for the arrangement to last 50 years. The United States agreed to use part of the customs proceeds to reduce the immense foreign debt of the Dominican Republic and assumed responsibility for said debt. [39] [90]

Ramon Caceres Ramon Caceres 1907 (cropped).jpg
Ramón Cáceres

After six years in power, President Ramón Cáceres (who had himself assassinated Heureaux) [85] was assassinated in 1911. The result was several years of great political instability and civil war. U.S. mediation by the William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson administrations achieved only a short respite each time. A political deadlock in 1914 was broken after an ultimatum by Wilson telling the Dominicans to choose a president or see the U.S. impose one. A provisional president was chosen, and later the same year relatively free elections put former president (1899–1902) Juan Isidro Jimenes Pereyra back in power. To achieve a more broadly supported government, Jimenes named opposition individuals to his cabinet. But this brought no peace and, with his former Secretary of War Desiderio Arias maneuvering to depose him and despite a U.S. offer of military aid against Arias, Jimenes resigned on May 7, 1916. [91]

The United States Marine Corps landing on Dominican soil in 1916 Ocupacion-1916.jpg
The United States Marine Corps landing on Dominican soil in 1916
Marines of the 4th regiment with a captured rebel mitrailleuse at Santiago
Marines of the 4th regiment with a captured rebel mitrailleuse at Santiago
The flag of the United States waving over Ozama Fortress during the U.S. occupation of the Dominican Republic, c. 1922 USMC Fortaleza Ozama from river 1922 restored.jpg
The flag of the United States waving over Ozama Fortress during the U.S. occupation of the Dominican Republic, c. 1922

Wilson thus ordered the U.S. occupation of the Dominican Republic. U.S. Marines landed on May 16, 1916, and seized the capital and other ports, while General Arias fell back to his inland Santiago stronghold. In late June, the Marines began advancing from the north coast towards Santiago. On June 27, they encountered a strong defensive position on Las Trencheras Ridge. Covered by artillery, the Marines attacked and overran the position. The Dominicans fell back to a second defensive line but could not hold this either. [92] A peace delegation from Santiago surrendered the city on July 5, coinciding with General Arias' surrender to the Dominican governor. The U.S. then extended the occupation to the inland cities of Moca and La Vega. The military government established by the U.S. on November 29, led by Vice Admiral Harry Shepard Knapp, was widely repudiated by the Dominicans, with caudillos in the mountainous eastern regions leading guerrilla campaigns against U.S. forces. [91] The Dominican insurgents, who typically operated in groups of less than 150 men, possessed mainly antiquated rifles, and more commonly, were armed only with pistols and shotguns. [93] The U.S. Marines were equipped with machine guns and modern artillery, resulting in a significant weaponry disparity that contributed to the defeat of the Dominican insurgents. [94] The U.S. Marines stationed in the Dominican Republic were Anglo-Americans. African-Americans were not allowed to join the Marines until 1942 due to segregation policies.

The occupation regime kept most Dominican laws and institutions and largely pacified the general population. The occupying government also revived the Dominican economy, reduced the nation's debt, built a road network that at last interconnected all regions of the country, and created a professional National Guard to replace the warring partisan units. [91] Additionally, with grass-roots support from local communities and assistance from both Dominican and US officials, the Dominican education system expanded significantly during US occupation. Between 1918 and 1920, more than three hundred schools were established nationwide. [95] The system of forced labour used by the Marines in Haiti was absent in the Dominican Republic. [56]

Dominican Republic president elect Horacio Vasquez meeting with United States officials Pres.-elect Horacio Vasquez of Santo Domingo, lunches with Pres. Coolidge. Lft. to rt.- Col. C.O. Sherrill, Military Aid to the Pres.; Pres.- elect Vasquez and J. Butler Wright, Third Ass't LCCN2016893577.jpg
Dominican Republic president elect Horacio Vásquez meeting with United States officials

Opposition to the occupation continued, nevertheless, and after World War I it increased in the U.S. as well. There, President Warren G. Harding (1921–23), Wilson's successor, worked to put an end to the occupation, as he had promised to do during his campaign. The U.S. government's rule ended in October 1922, and elections were held in March 1924. [91] The victor was former president (1902–03) Horacio Vásquez, who had cooperated with the U.S. He was inaugurated on July 13, 1924, and the last U.S. forces left in September. In six years, the Marines were involved in at least 370 engagements, resulting in 950 "bandits" killed or wounded in action, while 144 Marines were killed, and 50 were wounded. [96] [97] [98]

Vásquez gave the country six years of stable governance, in which political and civil rights were respected and the economy grew strongly, in a relatively peaceful atmosphere. [91] [99] During this time, Rafael Trujillo, who was trained by the U.S. Marines during the occupation, held the rank of lieutenant colonel and was chief of police. This position helped him launch his plans to overthrow the government of Vásquez. Trujillo had the support of Carlos Rosario Peña, who formed the Civic Movement, which had as its main objective to overthrow the government of Vásquez.

In February 1930, when Vásquez attempted to win another term, his opponents rebelled in secret alliance with the commander of the National Army (the former National Guard), General Rafael Trujillo. Trujillo secretly cut a deal with rebel leader Rafael Estrella Ureña; in return for letting Ureña take power, Trujillo would be allowed to run for president in new elections. As the rebels marched toward Santo Domingo, Vásquez ordered Trujillo to suppress them. However, feigning "neutrality", Trujillo kept his men in barracks, allowing Ureña's rebels to take the capital virtually uncontested. On March 3, Ureña was proclaimed acting president with Trujillo confirmed as head of the police and the army. As per their agreement, Trujillo became the presidential nominee of the newly formed Patriotic Coalition of Citizens (Spanish: Coalición patriotica de los ciudadanos), with Ureña as his running mate.

During the election campaign, Trujillo used the army to unleash his repression, forcing his opponents to withdraw from the race. Trujillo stood to elect himself, and in May he was elected president virtually unopposed after a violent campaign against his opponents, ascending to power on August 16, 1930. Desiderio Arias led a failed revolt against Trujillo and was killed near Mao on June 20, 1931.

Trujillo Era (1930–1961)

Rafael Trujillo imposed a dictatorship of 31 years in the country (1930-1961). Rafael L. Trujillo en la silla presidencial (cropped).jpg
Rafael Trujillo imposed a dictatorship of 31 years in the country (1930–1961).

There was considerable economic growth during Rafael Trujillo's long and iron-fisted regime, although a great deal of the wealth was taken by the dictator and other regime elements. There was progress in healthcare, education, and transportation, with the building of hospitals, clinics, schools, roads, and harbors. Trujillo also carried out an important housing construction program and instituted a pension plan. He finally negotiated an undisputed border with Haiti in 1935, and achieved the end of the 50-year customs agreement in 1941, instead of 1956. He made the country debt-free in 1947. [39] [100] This was accompanied by absolute repression and the copious use of murder, torture, and terrorist methods against the opposition. It has been estimated that Trujillo's tyrannical rule was responsible for the death of more than 50,000 Dominicans and foreign nationals, including Cubans, Costa Ricans, Nicaraguans, and Puerto Ricans. [101]

During World War II, Trujillo symbolically sided with the Allies and declared war on Japan the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor and on Nazi Germany and Italy four days later. Soon after, German U-boats torpedoed and sank two Dominican merchant vessels that Trujillo had named after himself—the San Rafael off Jamaica and the Presidente Trujillo off Fort-de-France, Martinique. German U-boats also sank four Dominican-manned ships in the Caribbean. The country did not make a military contribution to the war, but Dominican sugar and other agricultural products supported the Allied war effort. American Lend-Lease and raw material purchases proved a powerful inducement in obtaining cooperation of the various Latin American republics. Over a hundred Dominicans served in the American armed forces. Many were political exiles from the Trujillo regime. Following World War II, Trujillo sought direct military aid from the United States. However, his request was rejected, prompting Trujillo to establish his own arms factory. [102] In addition, he assigned agents to acquire surplus fighters and bombers from the civilian market. Trujillo's arsenal at San Cristóbal produced carbines, submachine guns, light machine guns, anti-tank guns, hand grenades, and ammunition. [102] :105

Several Dominicans were assassinated in New York after taking part in anti-Trujillo activities. [103] In July 1949, a failed invasion of the Dominican Republic was carried out by Dominican rebels from Guatemala, and on June 14, 1959, a Cuban invasion at Constanza, Maimón, and Estero Hondo also met with failure. [104] On June 26, Cuba broke diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic due to widespread Dominican human rights abuses and hostility toward the Cuban people. [105] [lower-alpha 3] Trujillo formed a Foreign Legion of 3,000 mercenaries to overthrow Fidel Castro in Cuba. [92] Major William Morgan agreed to lead the attack for $1 million, but the invasion plan never materialized as Castro learned of the plot and instructed Morgan to go along with it and report back. [92] The plan involved causing rebellion in the Sierra del Escambray and sabotaging the Cuban air force, followed by the Foreign Legion landing in Las Villas Province. Trujillo was tricked into believing that Morgan had captured Trinidad and that the airport was available to him, but remained reluctant to commit the Foreign Legion. On August 13, 1959, a C-47 transport flying from the Dominican Republic carrying military advisors and supplies landed at Trinidad airport. Castro seized the aircraft and the ten occupants and arrested some 4,000 suspects throughout Cuba. [92]

On November 25, 1960, Trujillo's henchmen killed three of the four Mirabal sisters, nicknamed Las Mariposas (The Butterflies). Along with their husbands, the sisters were conspiring to overthrow Trujillo in a violent revolt. The Mirabals had communist ideological leanings, as did their husbands. The sisters have received many honors posthumously and have many memorials in various cities in the Dominican Republic. Salcedo, their home province, changed its name to Provincia Hermanas Mirabal (Mirabal Sisters Province). The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is observed on the anniversary of their deaths.

Explosion in Paseo Los Proceres during the Betancourt assassination attempt, June 24, 1960 1960. Junio, 24. Atentado a Romulo Betancourt en Los Proceres.jpg
Explosion in Paseo Los Próceres during the Betancourt assassination attempt, June 24, 1960

For a long time, the U.S. and the Dominican elite supported the Trujillo government. This support persisted despite the assassinations of political opposition, the massacre of Haitians, and Trujillo's plots against other countries. The U.S. believed Trujillo was the lesser of two or more evils. [107] The U.S. finally broke with Trujillo in 1960, after Trujillo's agents attempted to assassinate the Venezuelan president, Rómulo Betancourt, a fierce critic of Trujillo. [99] [108] As the Venezuelan president was en route to preside over a military parade in Caracas, SIM agents detonated nearly 30 kg of explosives packed into two suitcases within a parked car nearby. [109] The force of the explosion hurled the presidential vehicle across the street and engulfed it in flames. As a result of the incident, Betancourt was injured, and Colonel Ramón Armas Perez, the chauffeur, and a bystander were killed. [109] Investigation revealed that the ammonium-nitrate bomb had been assembled in Ciudad Trujillo (Santo Domingo), and that the operation was orchestrated by Johnny Abbes García, the chief of the secret police under Trujillo's regime. This was not the first assassination attempt Trujillo had made on the liberal Betancourt. During Betancourt's earlier exile in Cuba, Trujillo's agents tried to inject poison into him on a Havana street in broad daylight. [109]

In June 1960, Trujillo legalized the Communist Party and unsuccessfully attempted to establish close political relations with the Soviet Bloc. Both the assassination attempt and the maneuver toward the Soviet Bloc provoked immediate condemnation throughout Latin America. After its representatives confirmed Trujillo's complicity in the nearly successful assassination attempt of Venezuela's president, the Organization of American States, for the first time in its history, decreed sanctions against a member state. The United States severed diplomatic relations with the Dominican Republic on August 26, 1960, and in January 1961 suspended the export of trucks, parts, crude oil, gasoline and other petroleum products. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower also took advantage of OAS sanctions to cut drastically purchases of Dominican sugar, the country's major export. This action ultimately cost the Dominican Republic almost $22,000,000 in lost revenues at a time when its economy was in a rapid decline. Trujillo had become expendable. [110] Dissidents inside the Dominican Republic argued that assassination was the only certain way to remove Trujillo. [110] [111]

According to Chester Bowles, the U.S. Undersecretary of State, internal Department of State discussions in 1961 on the topic were vigorous. [112] Richard N. Goodwin, Assistant Special Counsel to the President, who had direct contacts with the rebel alliance, argued for intervention against Trujillo. [112] Quoting Bowles directly: "The next morning I learned that in spite of the clear decision against having the dissident group request our assistance Dick Goodwin following the meeting sent a cable to CIA people in the Dominican Republic without checking with State or CIA; indeed, with the protest of the Department of State. The cable directed the CIA people in the Dominican Republic to get this request at any cost. When Allen Dulles found this out the next morning, he withdrew the order. We later discovered it had already been carried out." [112]

Post-Trujillo (1961–1996)

Juan Bosch, the first democratically elected president after the regime of Rafael Trujillo Juan Bosch (1963).jpg
Juan Bosch, the first democratically elected president after the regime of Rafael Trujillo

Trujillo was assassinated by Dominican dissidents on May 30, 1961. [99] Although the dissidents possessed Dominican-made San Cristóbal submachine guns, they symbolically used U.S.-made M-1 carbines supplied by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to gun down Trujillo. [113] Out of the 14 Trujillo assassins, 12 were subsequently killed, with some of them being fed to sharks. [113]

Ramfis Trujillo, the dictator's son, remained in de facto control of the government for the next six months through his position as commander of the armed forces. Trujillo's brothers, Hector Bienvenido and Jose Arismendi Trujillo, returned to the country and began immediately to plot against President Balaguer. On November 18, 1961, as a planned coup became more evident, U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk issued a warning that the United States would not "remain idle" if the Trujillos attempted to "reassert dictatorial domination" over the Dominican Republic. Following this warning, and the arrival of a fourteen-vessel U.S. naval task force within sight of Santo Domingo, Ramfis and his uncles fled the country on November 19 with $200 million from the Dominican treasury. The OAS lifted its sanctions on January 4, 1962, since the Dominican Republic no longer posed a threat to regional security.

In February 1963, a democratically elected government under leftist Juan Bosch took office but it was overthrown in September. On April 24, 1965, after 19 months of military rule, a pro-Bosch revolt broke out in Santo Domingo. [114] The pro-Bosch forces called themselves Constitutionalists. The revolution took on the dimensions of a civil war when conservative military forces struck back against the Constitutionalists on April 25. These conservative forces called themselves Loyalists. Despite tank assaults and bombing runs by Loyalist forces, the Constitutionalists held their positions in the capital. The Constitutionalists destroyed several Swedish tanks with bazookas and pre–World War I 75 mm cannons. [115] By April 26, armed civilians outnumbered the original rebel military regulars. Radio Santo Domingo, now fully under rebel control, began to call for more violent actions and for killing of all the policemen. [79]

Wounded American soldier in Santo Domingo, 1965. 1965-american01.jpg
Wounded American soldier in Santo Domingo, 1965.

On April 28, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson, concerned that communists might take over the revolt and create a "second Cuba", sent 24,000 troops into Santo Domingo in Operation Powerpack. "We don't propose to sit here in a rocking chair with our hands folded and let the Communist set up any government in the Western Hemisphere," Johnson said. [116] The forces were soon joined by comparatively small contingents from the Organization of American States (OAS). [117] Following U.S. intervention, psychological warfare became the primary weapon of the Constitutionalists, who numbered between 2,000 and 4,000. Dictator Trujillo had established an extensive and sophisticated telecommunications and radio broadcasting system that could reach every corner of the republic; Radio Santo Domingo, equipped with numerous alternative transmitter and antenna field sites, as well as relay stations, was nearly invulnerable. The Constitutionalist rebels adeptly utilized the radio to incite the population to revolt and communicate with their own forces. Despite the robust electronic warfare capabilities of U.S. forces in the region, designed for military targets, they had limited effect on commercial transmitting systems. Therefore, the rebels were able to use this propaganda weapon until the main Radio Santo Domingo facility was physically put out of operation by Loyalist forces, who used the U.S. presence to deploy its forces and attack Constitutionalists.

Loyalist forces destroyed most Constitutionalist bases and captured the rebel radio station, effectively ending the war. A ceasefire was declared on May 21. [115] The U.S. began withdrawing some of its troops by May 26. However, Col. Francisco Caamaño's untrained civilians attacked American positions on June 15. Despite the coordinated attack involving mortars, rocket launchers, and several light tanks, the rebels lost a 56-square-block area to 82nd Airborne Division units which had received OAS permission to advance. [79] During this pitched battle, the armed civilians sustained 232 casualties and the U.S. soldiers sustained 36 casualties.

Joaquin Balaguer was puppet president during the Trujillo dictatorship (1960-1962), and constitutional president of the country for 22 years (1966-1978 and 1986-1996) Toma de posesion de D. Joaquin Balaguer en 1966 (1) (cropped).jpg
Joaquín Balaguer was puppet president during the Trujillo dictatorship (1960–1962), and constitutional president of the country for 22 years (1966–1978 and 1986–1996)

Over 7,000 Dominicans were killed or wounded in the civil war, most of them prior to the U.S. intervention. [98] A total of 48 Americans died and 189 were wounded in action. [98] U.S. and OAS peacekeeping troops remained in the country for over a year and left after supervising elections in 1966 won by Joaquín Balaguer. He had been Trujillo's last puppet-president. [39] [117] Balaguer remained in power as president for 12 years. His tenure was a period of repression of human rights and civil liberties, ostensibly to keep pro-Castro or pro-communist parties out of power; 11,000 persons were killed, tortured or forcibly disappeared. [118] [119] His rule was criticized for a growing disparity between rich and poor. It was, however, praised for an ambitious infrastructure program, which included the construction of large housing projects, sports complexes, theaters, museums, aqueducts, roads, highways, and the massive Columbus Lighthouse, completed in 1992 during a later tenure. During Balaguer's administration, the Dominican military forced Haitians to cut sugarcane on Dominican sugar plantations. [102] :205

In February 1973, former Colonel Francisco Caamaño, along with his group of around 30 rebels, landed on the coast of the Dominican Republic. Balaguer declared a state of emergency and mobilized the army, which quickly defeated the insurgency, resulting in Caamaño being killed. [102] :155 Dominican Republic fighter-bombers strafed a Norwegian ship, mistaking it for a vessel carrying guerrillas. [120] In September 1977, twelve Cuban-manned MiG-21s conducted strafing flights over Puerto Plata to warn Balaguer against intercepting Cuban merchant ships headed to or returning from Africa. [121] Hurricane David hit the Dominican Republic in August 1979, which left upwards of 2,000 people dead and 200,000 homeless. The hurricane caused over $1 billion in damage.

1984 Dominican riots Poblada de abril collage.png
1984 Dominican riots

In 1978, Balaguer was succeeded in the presidency by opposition candidate Antonio Guzmán Fernández, of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD). Another PRD win in 1982 followed, under Salvador Jorge Blanco. Balaguer regained the presidency in 1986 and was re-elected in 1990 and 1994, this last time just defeating PRD candidate José Francisco Peña Gómez, a former mayor of Santo Domingo. The 1994 elections were flawed, bringing on international pressure, to which Balaguer responded by scheduling another presidential contest in 1996. Balaguer was not a candidate. The PSRC candidate was his Vice President Jacinto Peynado Garrigosa. [122]


Leonel Fernandez was president from 1996 to 2000 and 2004 to 2012. Leonel Fernandez Reyna.jpg
Leonel Fernández was president from 1996 to 2000 and 2004 to 2012.

In 1996, with the support of Joaquín Balaguer and the Social Christian Reform Party in a coalition called the Patriotic Front, Leonel Fernández achieved the first-ever win for the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), [123] which Bosch had founded in 1973 after leaving the PRD (which he also had founded). Fernández oversaw a fast-growing economy: growth averaged 7.7% per year, unemployment fell, and there were stable exchange and inflation rates. [124] His administration supported the process of modernizing the judicial system, making transparent the creation of an independent Supreme Court of Justice. Efforts were also made to reform and modernize the other state bodies. In addition, relations with Cuba were reestablished[ citation needed ] and the Free Trade Agreement with Central America was signed, which was the genesis for the signing of DR-CAFTA.

2020 Dominican Republic municipal elections protests in Plaza de La Bandera, Santo Domingo. Protestas dominicanas en Santo Domingo 2020.jpg
2020 Dominican Republic municipal elections protests in Plaza de La Bandera, Santo Domingo.

In 2000, the PRD's Hipólito Mejía won the election. This was a time of economic troubles. [124] Under Mejía, the Dominican Republic participated in the US-led coalition, as part of the Multinational Plus Ultra Brigade, during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, suffering no casualties. In 2004, the country withdrew its approximately 300 soldiers from Iraq. The Dominican Republic has also contributed troops to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

In 2008, Fernández was elected for a third term. [125] Fernández and the PLD are credited with initiatives that have moved the country forward technologically, on the other hand, his administrations have been accused of corruption. [124]

Danilo Medina of the PLD was elected president in 2012 and re-elected in 2016. On the other hand, a significant increase in crime, government corruption and a weak justice system threaten to overshadow their administrative period. [126] [127]

He was succeeded by the opposition candidate Luis Abinader in the 2020 election (weeks after protests erupted in the country against Medina's government), marking the end to 16 years in power of the centre-left Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). [128] [129]


Topographical map of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic relief location map.jpg
Topographical map of Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic comprises the eastern five-eighths of Hispaniola, the second-largest island in the Greater Antilles, with the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south. It shares the island roughly at a 2:1 ratio with Haiti, the north-to-south (though somewhat irregular) border between the two countries being 376 km (234 mi). [4] To the north and north-west lie The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and to the east, across the Mona Passage, the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The country's area is reported variously as 48,442 km2 (18,704 sq mi) (by the embassy in the United States) [14] and 48,670 km2 (18,792 sq mi), [4] making it the second largest country in the Antilles, after Cuba. The Dominican Republic's capital and largest city Santo Domingo is on the southern coast. [4]

Monte Cristi coastline. Monte Cristi, Coastline.JPG
Monte Cristi coastline.

The Dominican Republic has four important mountain ranges. The most northerly is the Cordillera Septentrional ("Northern Mountain Range"), which extends from the northwestern coastal town of Monte Cristi, near the Haitian border, to the Samaná Peninsula in the east, running parallel to the Atlantic coast. The highest range in the Dominican Republic – indeed, in the whole of the West Indies – is the Cordillera Central ("Central Mountain Range"). It gradually bends southwards and finishes near the town of Azua, on the Caribbean coast. In the Cordillera Central are the four highest peaks in the Caribbean: Pico Duarte (3,098 metres or 10,164 feet above sea level), [4] La Pelona (3,094 metres or 10,151 feet), La Rucilla (3,049 metres or 10,003 feet), and Pico Yaque (2,760 metres or 9,055 feet). In the southwest corner of the country, south of the Cordillera Central, there are two other ranges: the more northerly of the two is the Sierra de Neiba , while in the south the Sierra de Bahoruco is a continuation of the Massif de la Selle in Haiti. There are other, minor mountain ranges, such as the Cordillera Oriental ("Eastern Mountain Range"), Sierra Martín García, Sierra de Yamasá, and Sierra de Samaná.

Between the Central and Northern mountain ranges lies the rich and fertile Cibao valley. This major valley is home to the cities of Santiago and La Vega and most of the farming areas of the nation. Rather less productive are the semi-arid San Juan Valley, south of the Central Cordillera, and the Neiba Valley, tucked between the Sierra de Neiba and the Sierra de Bahoruco. Much of the land around the Enriquillo Basin is below sea level, with a hot, arid, desert-like environment. There are other smaller valleys in the mountains, such as the Constanza, Jarabacoa, Villa Altagracia, and Bonao valleys.

Mangroves in Los Haitises National Park Los Haitises Park.jpeg
Mangroves in Los Haitises National Park

The Llano Costero del Caribe ("Caribbean Coastal Plain") is the largest of the plains in the Dominican Republic. Stretching north and east of Santo Domingo, it contains many sugar plantations in the savannahs that are common there. West of Santo Domingo its width is reduced to 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) as it hugs the coast, finishing at the mouth of the Ocoa River. Another large plain is the Plena de Azua ("Azua Plain"), a very arid region in Azua Province. A few other small coastal plains are on the northern coast and in the Pedernales Peninsula.

Four major rivers drain the numerous mountains of the Dominican Republic. The Yaque del Norte is the longest and most important Dominican river. It carries excess water down from the Cibao Valley and empties into Monte Cristi Bay, in the northwest. Likewise, the Yuna River serves the Vega Real and empties into Samaná Bay, in the northeast. Drainage of the San Juan Valley is provided by the San Juan River, tributary of the Yaque del Sur, which empties into the Caribbean, in the south. The Artibonito is the longest river of Hispaniola and flows westward into Haiti.

Salto del Limon, one of many waterfalls across the Dominican Republic Salto el Limon (14688207924).jpg
Salto del Limón, one of many waterfalls across the Dominican Republic

There are many lakes and coastal lagoons. The largest lake is Enriquillo, a salt lake at 45 metres (148 ft) below sea level, the lowest elevation in the Caribbean. [4] Other important lakes are Laguna de Rincón or Cabral, with fresh water, and Laguna de Oviedo, a lagoon with brackish water.

There are many small offshore islands and cays that form part of the Dominican territory. The two largest islands near shore are Saona, in the southeast, and Beata, in the southwest. Smaller islands include the Cayos Siete Hermanos, Isla Cabra, Cayo Jackson, Cayo Limón, Cayo Levantado, Cayo la Bocaina, Catalanita, Cayo Pisaje and Isla Alto Velo. To the north, at distances of 100–200 kilometres (62–124 mi), are three extensive, largely submerged banks, which geographically are a southeast continuation of the Bahamas: Navidad Bank, Silver Bank, and Mouchoir Bank. Navidad Bank and Silver Bank have been officially claimed by the Dominican Republic.[ citation needed ] Isla Cabritos lies within Lago Enriquillo.

The Dominican Republic is located near fault action in the Caribbean. In 1946, it suffered a magnitude 8.1 earthquake off the northeast coast, triggering a tsunami that killed about 1,800, mostly in coastal communities. Caribbean countries and the United States have collaborated to create tsunami warning systems and are mapping high-risk low-lying areas.

The country is home to five terrestrial ecoregions: Hispaniolan moist forests, Hispaniolan dry forests, Hispaniolan pine forests, Enriquillo wetlands, and Greater Antilles mangroves. [130] It had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 4.18/10, ranking it 134th globally out of 172 countries. [131]


Koppen climate types of the Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Koppen.svg
Köppen climate types of the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has a tropical rainforest climate [132] in the coastal and lowland areas. Some areas, such as most of the Cibao region, have a tropical savanna climate. [132] Due to its diverse topography, Dominican Republic's climate shows considerable variation over short distances and is the most varied of all the Antilles. The annual average temperature is 25 °C (77 °F). At higher elevations the temperature averages 18 °C (64.4 °F) while near sea level the average temperature is 28 °C (82.4 °F). Low temperatures of 0 °C (32 °F) are possible in the mountains while high temperatures of 40 °C (104 °F) are possible in protected valleys. January and February are the coolest months of the year while August is the hottest month. Snowfall can be seen on rare occasions on the summit of Pico Duarte. [133]

The wet season along the northern coast lasts from November through January. Elsewhere the wet season stretches from May through November, with May being the wettest month. Average annual rainfall is 1,500 millimetres (59.1 in) countrywide, with individual locations in the Valle de Neiba seeing averages as low as 350 millimetres (13.8 in) while the Cordillera Oriental averages 2,740 millimetres (107.9 in). The driest part of the country lies in the west. [133]

Tropical cyclones strike the Dominican Republic every couple of years, with 65% of the impacts along the southern coast. Hurricanes are most likely between June and October. [133] [4] The last major hurricane that struck the country was Hurricane Georges in 1998. [134]


Bats make up 90% of the native terrestrial mammal species residing in the Dominican Republic. [135] Lake Enriquillo, located in the Dominican Republic's southwest, is home to the largest population of American crocodiles.

Government and politics

The National Palace in Santo Domingo Santo Domingo National Palace.jpg
The National Palace in Santo Domingo

The Dominican Republic is a representative democracy or democratic republic, [14] [4] [125] 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 four-year terms. The national legislature is bicameral, composed of a senate, which has 32 members, and the Chamber of Deputies, with 178 members. [125]

Judicial authority rests with the Supreme Court of Justice's 16 members. The court "alone hears actions against the president, designated members of his Cabinet, and members of Congress when the legislature is in session." [125] The court is appointed by a council known as the National Council of the Magistracy which is composed of the president, the leaders of both houses of Congress, the President of the Supreme Court, and an opposition or non–governing-party member.

The Dominican Republic has a multi-party political system. Elections are held every two years, alternating between the presidential elections, which are held in years evenly divisible by four, and the congressional and municipal elections, which are held in even-numbered years not divisible by four. "International observers have found that presidential and congressional elections since 1996 have been generally free and fair." [125] The Central Elections Board (JCE) of nine members supervises elections, and its decisions are unappealable. [125] Starting in 2016, elections are held jointly, after a constitutional reform. [136]

Political culture

Dominican President Luis Abinader President Abinader 2020.jpg
Dominican President Luis Abinader

The three major parties are the conservative Social Christian Reformist Party (Spanish : Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC)), in power 1966–78 and 1986–96; and the social democratic Dominican Revolutionary Party (Spanish : Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD)), in power in 1963, 1978–86, and 2000–04; and the Dominican Liberation Party (Spanish : Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD)), in power 1996–2000 and 2004–2020.

The presidential elections of 2008 were held on May 16, 2008, with incumbent Leonel Fernández winning 53% of the vote. [137] He defeated Miguel Vargas Maldonado, of the PRD, who achieved a 40.48% share of the vote. Amable Aristy, of the PRSC, achieved 4.59% of the vote. Other minority candidates, which included former Attorney General Guillermo Moreno from the Movement for Independence, Unity and Change (Spanish : Movimiento Independencia, Unidad y Cambio (MIUCA)), and PRSC former presidential candidate and defector Eduardo Estrella, obtained less than 1% of the vote.

In the 2012 presidential elections, the incumbent president Leonel Fernández (PLD) declined his aspirations [138] and instead the PLD elected Danilo Medina as its candidate. This time the PRD presented ex-president Hipólito Mejía as its choice. The contest was won by Medina with 51.21% of the vote, against 46.95% in favor of Mejía. Candidate Guillermo Moreno obtained 1.37% of the votes. [139]

In 2014, the Modern Revolutionary Party (Spanish : Partido Revolucionario Moderno) was created [140] by a faction of leaders from the PRD, and has since become the predominant opposition party, polling in second place for the May 2016 general elections. [141]

In 2020, protests erupted against the PLD's rule. The presidential candidate for the opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), Luis Abinader, won the election, defeating the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), which had governed since 2004. [142]

Administrative divisions

Provinces of the Dominican Republic Dominican Republic, administrative divisions - de - monochrome.svg
Provinces of the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is divided into 31 provinces. Santo Domingo, the capital, is designated Distrito Nacional (National District). The provinces are divided into municipalities ( municipios ; singular municipio). They are the second-level political and administrative subdivisions of the country. The president appoints the governors of the 31 provinces. Mayors and municipal councils administer the 124 municipal districts and the National District (Santo Domingo). They are elected at the same time as congressional representatives. [125]

The provinces are the first–level administrative subdivisions of the country. The headquarters of the central government's regional offices are normally found in the capital cities of provinces. The president appoints an administrative governor (Gobernador Civil) for each province but not for the Distrito Nacional (Title IX of the constitution). [143]

Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional. Ciudad de Santo Domingo de Guzman - Distrito Nacional.png
Santo Domingo, Distrito Nacional.

The Distrito Nacional was created in 1936. Prior to this, the Distrito National was the old Santo Domingo Province, in existence since the country's independence in 1844. It is not to be confused with the new Santo Domingo Province split off from it in 2001. While it is similar to a province in many ways, the Distrito Nacional differs in its lack of an administrative governor and consisting only of one municipality, Santo Domingo, the city council ( ayuntamiento ) and mayor (síndico) which are in charge of its administration. [144]

ProvinceCapital city
Azua Azua de Compostela
Baoruco Neiba
Barahona Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Barahona.svg
Barahona Coat of Arms
Barahona Santa Cruz de Barahona
Dajabon Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Dajabon.png
Dajabón Coat of Arms
Dajabón Dajabón
Distrito Nacional Santo Domingo
Duarte San Francisco de Macorís
Elias Pina Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Elias Pina.png
Elías Piña Coat of Arms
Elías Piña Comendador
Escudo de la Provincia El Seibo.svg El Seibo Santa Cruz de El Seibo
Espaillat Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Espaillat.png
Espaillat Coat of Arms
Espaillat    Moca
Hato Mayor Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Hato Mayor.png
Hato Mayor Coat of Arms
Hato Mayor Hato Mayor del Rey
Hermanas Mirabal Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Hermanas Mirabal.png
Hermanas Mirabal Coat of Arms
Hermanas Mirabal Salcedo       
Independencia Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Independencia.png
Independencia Coat of Arms
Independencia Jimaní
La Altagracia Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia La Altagracia.png
La Altagracia Coat of Arms
La Altagracia Salvaleón de Higüey
La Romana Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia La Romana.svg
La Romana Coat of Arms
La Romana La Romana
La Vega Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia La Vega.png
La Vega Coat of Arms
La Vega Concepción de La Vega
Maria Trinidad Sanchez Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Maria Trinidad Sanchez.png
María Trinidad Sánchez Coat of Arms
María Trinidad Sánchez Nagua
ProvinceCapital city
Monsenor Nouel Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Monsenor Nouel.png
Monseñor Nouel Coat of Arms
Monseñor Nouel Bonao
Monte Cristi Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Monte Cristi.png
Monte Cristi Coat of Arms
Monte Cristi    San Fernando de Monte Cristi
Monte Plata Coat of Arms Province Escudo de la Provincia Monte Plata.png
Monte Plata Coat of Arms Province
Monte Plata Monte Plata
Pedernales Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Pedernales.png
Pedernales Coat of Arms
Pedernales Pedernales
Peravia Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Peravia.png
Peravia Coat of Arms
Peravia Baní
Puerto Plata Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Puerto Plata.svg
Puerto Plata Coat of Arms
Puerto Plata San Felipe de Puerto Plata
Samana Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Samana.svg
Samaná Coat of Arms
Samaná Samaná
San Cristobal Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia San Cristobal.png
San Cristóbal Coat of Arms
San Cristóbal San Cristóbal
San Jose de Ocoa Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia San Jose de Ocoa.png
San José de Ocoa Coat of Arms
San José de Ocoa San José de Ocoa
San Juan de la Maguana Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia San Juan.svg
San Juan de la Maguana Coat of Arms
San Juan San Juan de la Maguana
San Pedro de Macoris Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia San Pedro de Macoris.png
San Pedro de Macorís Coat of Arms
San Pedro de Macorís San Pedro de Macorís
Sanchez Ramirez Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Sanchez Ramirez.png
Sánchez Ramírez Coat of Arms
Sánchez Ramírez Cotuí
Santiago Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Santiago.svg
Santiago Coat of Arms
Santiago Santiago de los Caballeros
Santiago Rodriguez Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Santiago Rodriguez.png
Santiago Rodríguez Coat of Arms
Santiago Rodríguez San Ignacio de Sabaneta
Santo Domingo Coat of Arms Escudo de la Provincia Santo Domingo.png
Santo Domingo Coat of Arms
Santo Domingo Santo Domingo Este
Valverde Coat of Arms Escudo del Municipio Mao.svg
Valverde Coat of Arms
Valverde Santa Cruz de Mao

Foreign relations

The Dominican Republic has a close relationship with the United States, and has close cultural ties with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and other states and jurisdictions of the United States.

The Dominican Republic's relationship with neighbouring Haiti is strained over mass Haitian migration to the Dominican Republic, with citizens of the Dominican Republic blaming the Haitians for increased crime and other social problems. [145] The Dominican Republic is a regular member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie .

The Dominican Republic has a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua via the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement. [146] And an Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union and the Caribbean Community via the Caribbean Forum. [147]


Dominican soldiers training in Santo Domingo Two Commando soldiers of the MEFA provide security.jpg
Dominican soldiers training in Santo Domingo

The Armed Forces of the Dominican Republic are the military forces of the Dominican Republic. They consist of approximately 56,000 active duty personnel. [148] The President of the Dominican Republic is the commander in chief of the Armed Forces of the Dominican Republic and the Ministry of Defense is the chief managing body of the armed forces.

The Army, with 28,750 active duty personnel, [148] consists of six infantry brigades, an air cavalry squadron and a combat service support brigade. The Air Force operates two main bases, one in the southern region near Santo Domingo and one in the northern region of the country, the air force operates approximately 75 aircraft including helicopters. The Navy operates two major naval bases, one in Santo Domingo and one in Las Calderas on the southwestern coast.

The armed forces have organized a Specialized Airport Security Corps (CESA) and a Specialized Port Security Corps (CESEP) to meet international security needs in these areas. The secretary of the armed forces has also announced plans to form a specialized border corps (CESEF). The armed forces provide 75% of personnel to the National Investigations Directorate (DNI) and the Counter-Drug Directorate (DNCD). [125]

In 2018, Dominican Republic signed the UN treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. [149]


A proportional representation of Dominican Republic exports, 2019 Dominican Republic Product Exports (2019).svg
A proportional representation of Dominican Republic exports, 2019
Historical GDP per capita development in the Dominican Republic and Haiti GDP per capita development in Haiti and Dominican Republic.svg
Historical GDP per capita development in the Dominican Republic and Haiti

During the last three decades, the Dominican economy, formerly dependent on the export of agricultural commodities (mainly sugar, cocoa and coffee), has transitioned to a diversified mix of services, manufacturing, agriculture, mining, and trade. The service sector accounts for almost 60% of GDP; manufacturing, for 22%; tourism, telecommunications and finance are the main components of the service sector; however, none of them accounts for more than 10% of the whole. [150] The Dominican Republic has a stock market, Bolsa de Valores de la República Dominicana (BVRD). [151] and advanced telecommunication system and transportation infrastructure. [29] High unemployment and income inequality are long-term challenges. [4] International migration affects the Dominican Republic greatly, as it receives and sends large flows of migrants. Mass illegal Haitian immigration and the integration of Dominicans of Haitian descent are major issues. [152] A large Dominican diaspora exists, mostly in the United States, [153] contributes to development, sending billions of dollars to Dominican families in remittances. [4] [125]

Remittances in Dominican Republic increased to US$4571.30 million in 2014 from US$3333 million in 2013 (according to data reported by the Inter-American Development Bank). Economic growth takes place in spite of a chronic energy shortage, [154] which causes frequent blackouts and very high prices. Despite a widening merchandise trade deficit, tourism earnings and remittances have helped build foreign exchange reserves. Following economic turmoil in the late 1980s and 1990, during which the gross domestic product (GDP) fell by up to 5% and consumer price inflation reached an unprecedented 100%, the Dominican Republic entered a period of growth and declining inflation until 2002, after which the economy entered a recession. [125]

This recession followed the collapse of the second-largest commercial bank in the country, Baninter, linked to a major incident of fraud valued at US$3.5 billion. The Baninter fraud had a devastating effect on the Dominican economy, with GDP dropping by 1% in 2003 as inflation ballooned by over 27%. All defendants, including the star of the trial, Ramón Báez Figueroa (the great-grandson of President Buenaventura Báez), [155] were convicted.

According to the 2005 Annual Report of the United Nations Subcommittee on Human Development in the Dominican Republic, the country is ranked No. 71 in the world for resource availability, No. 79 for human development, and No. 14 in the world for resource mismanagement. These statistics emphasize national government corruption, foreign economic interference in the country, and the rift between the rich and poor.

The Dominican Republic has a noted problem of child labor in its coffee, rice, sugarcane, and tomato industries. [156] The labor injustices in the sugarcane industry extend to forced labor according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Three large groups own 75% of the land: the State Sugar Council (Consejo Estatal del Azúcar, CEA), Grupo Vicini, and Central Romana Corporation. [157]

According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, an estimated 104,800 people are enslaved in the modern day Dominican Republic, or 1.00% of the population. [158] Some slaves in the Dominican Republic are held on sugar plantations, guarded by men on horseback with rifles, and forced to work. [159] [160]

View of Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic's capital city. SantoDomingoedit.JPG
View of Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic's capital city.


The Dominican peso (abbreviated $ or RD$; ISO 4217 code is "DOP") [161] is the national currency, with the United States dollar, the Euro, the Canadian dollar and the Swiss franc also accepted at most tourist sites. The exchange rate to the U.S. dollar, liberalized by 1985, stood at 2.70 pesos per dollar in August 1986, [65] :p417,428 14.00 pesos in 1993, and 16.00 pesos in 2000. As of September 2018 the rate was 50.08 pesos per dollar. [162]


Cabeza de Toro beach, Punta Cana Punta Cana Beach Cabeza De Toro 1.jpg
Cabeza de Toro beach, Punta Cana

Tourism is one of the fueling factors in the Dominican Republic's economic growth. The Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean. With the construction of projects like Cap Cana, San Souci Port in Santo Domingo, Casa De Campo and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (ancient Moon Palace Resort) in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic expects increased tourism activity in the upcoming years.

Ecotourism has also been a topic increasingly important in this nation, with towns like Jarabacoa and neighboring Constanza, and locations like the Pico Duarte, Bahía de las Águilas, and others becoming more significant in efforts to increase direct benefits from tourism. Most residents from other countries are required to get a tourist card, depending on the country they live in. In the last 10 years the Dominican Republic has become one of the world's notably progressive states in terms of recycling and waste disposal. A UN report cited there was a 221.3% efficiency increase in the previous 10 years due, in part, to the opening of the largest open air landfill site located in the north 10 km from the Haitian border.


Teleferico de Santo Domingo Gualey Santo Domingo Dominican Republic.jpg
Teleférico de Santo Domingo
27 de Febrero Avenue in Santo Domingo. 27 de febrero av. Santo Domingo.jpg
27 de Febrero Avenue in Santo Domingo.

The country has three national trunk highways, which connect every major town. These are DR-1, DR-2, and DR-3, which depart from Santo Domingo toward the northern (Cibao), southwestern (Sur), and eastern (El Este) parts of the country respectively. These highways have been consistently improved with the expansion and reconstruction of many sections. Two other national highways serve as spur (DR-5) or alternative routes (DR-4).

In addition to the national highways, the government has embarked on an expansive reconstruction of spur secondary routes, which connect smaller towns to the trunk routes. In the last few years the government constructed a 106-kilometer toll road that connects Santo Domingo with the country's northeastern peninsula. Travelers may now arrive in the Samaná Peninsula in less than two hours. Other additions are the reconstruction of the DR-28 (Jarabacoa – Constanza) and DR-12 (Constanza – Bonao). Despite these efforts, many secondary routes still remain either unpaved or in need of maintenance. There is currently a nationwide program to pave these and other commonly used routes. Also, the Santiago light rail system is in planning stages but currently on hold.

Bus services

There are two main bus transportation services in the Dominican Republic: one controlled by the government, through the Oficina Técnica de Transito Terrestre (OTTT) and the Oficina Metropolitana de Servicios de Autobuses (OMSA), and the other controlled by private business, among them, Federación Nacional de Transporte La Nueva Opción (FENATRANO) and the Confederacion Nacional de Transporte (CONATRA). The government transportation system covers large routes in metropolitan areas such as Santo Domingo and Santiago.

There are many privately owned bus companies, such as Metro Servicios Turísticos and Caribe Tours, that run daily routes.

Santo Domingo Metro

A pair of 9000 series are tested on the Santo Domingo Metro. Stodgo metro.jpg
A pair of 9000 series are tested on the Santo Domingo Metro.

The Dominican Republic has a rapid transit system in Santo Domingo, the country's capital. It is the most extensive metro system in the insular Caribbean and Central American region by length and number of stations. The Santo Domingo Metro is part of a major "National Master Plan" to improve transportation in Santo Domingo as well as the rest of the nation. The first line was planned to relieve traffic congestion in the Máximo Gómez and Hermanas Mirabal Avenue. The second line, which opened in April 2013, is meant to relieve the congestion along the Duarte-Kennedy-Centenario Corridor in the city from west to east. The current length of the Metro, with the sections of the two lines open as of August 2013, is 27.35 kilometres (16.99 mi). Before the opening of the second line, 30,856,515 passengers rode the Santo Domingo Metro in 2012. [163] With both lines opened, ridership increased to 61,270,054 passengers in 2014.


The Dominican Republic has a well developed telecommunications infrastructure, with extensive mobile phone and landline services. Cable Internet and DSL are available in most parts of the country, and many Internet service providers offer 3G wireless internet service. The Dominican Republic became the second country in Latin America to have 4G LTE wireless service. The reported speeds are from 1 Mbit/s up to 100 Mbit/s for residential services.

For commercial service there are speeds from 256 kbit/s up to 154 Mbit/s. (Each set of numbers denotes downstream/upstream speed; that is, to the user/from the user.) Projects to extend Wi-Fi hot spots have been made in Santo Domingo. The country's commercial radio stations and television stations are in the process of transferring to the digital spectrum, via HD Radio and HDTV after officially adopting ATSC as the digital medium in the country with a switch-off of analog transmission by September 2015. The telecommunications regulator in the country is INDOTEL (Instituto Dominicano de Telecomunicaciones).

The largest telecommunications company is Claro  – part of Carlos Slim's América Móvil  – which provides wireless, landline, broadband, and IPTV services. In June 2009 there were more than 8 million phone line subscribers (land and cell users) in the D.R., representing 81% of the country's population and a fivefold increase since the year 2000, when there were 1.6 million. The communications sector generates about 3.0% of the GDP. [164] There were 2,439,997 Internet users in March 2009. [165]

In November 2009, the Dominican Republic became the first Latin American country to pledge to include a "gender perspective" in every information and communications technology (ICT) initiative and policy developed by the government. [166] This is part of the regional eLAC2010 plan. The tool the Dominicans have chosen to design and evaluate all the public policies is the APC Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM).


Electric power service has been unreliable since the Trujillo era, and as much as 75% of the equipment is that old. The country's antiquated power grid causes transmission losses that account for a large share of billed electricity from generators. The privatization of the sector started under a previous administration of Leonel Fernández. [124] The recent investment in a 345 kilovolt "Santo Domingo–Santiago Electrical Highway" [167] with reduced transmission losses, is being heralded as a major capital improvement to the national grid since the mid-1960s.

During the Trujillo regime electrical service was introduced to many cities. Almost 95% of usage was not billed at all. Around half of the Dominican Republic's 2.1 million houses have no meters and most do not pay or pay a fixed monthly rate for their electric service. [168]

Household and general electrical service is delivered at 110 volts alternating at 60  Hz. Electrically powered items from the United States work with no modifications. The majority of the Dominican Republic has access to electricity. Tourist areas tend to have more reliable power, as do business, travel, healthcare, and vital infrastructure. [169] Concentrated efforts were announced to increase efficiency of delivery to places where the collection rate reached 70%. [170] The electricity sector is highly politicized. Some generating companies are undercapitalized and at times unable to purchase adequate fuel supplies. [125]


Population, fertility rate and net reproduction rate, United Nations estimates Dominican Republic Population 1950-2021 Forecast 2022-2032 UN World Population Prospects 2022.svg
Population, fertility rate and net reproduction rate, United Nations estimates
Population age pyramid in 2020 Dominican Republic single age population pyramid 2020.png
Population age pyramid in 2020

The Dominican Republic's population was 11,117,873 in 2021, [171] [172] compared to 2,380,000 in 1950. [173] In 2010, 31.2% of the population was under 15 years of age, with 6% of the population over 65 years of age. [174] There were an estimated 102.3 males for every 100 females in 2020. [4] The annual population growth rate for 2006–2007 was 1.5%, with the projected population for the year 2015 being 10,121,000. [175]

The population density in 2007 was 192 per km2 (498 per sq mi), and 63% of the population lived in urban areas. [176] The southern coastal plains and the Cibao Valley are the most densely populated areas of the country. The capital city Santo Domingo had a population of 2,907,100 in 2010.

Other important cities are Santiago de los Caballeros (pop. 745,293), La Romana (pop. 214,109), San Pedro de Macorís (pop. 185,255), Higüey (153,174), San Francisco de Macorís (pop. 132,725), Puerto Plata (pop. 118,282), and La Vega (pop. 104,536). Per the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 2.3%.

Population centres


  1. The municipalities belonging to the Commonwealth of the Greater Santo Domingo (Mancomunidad del Gran Santo Domingo) have been included into Santo Domingo's population in this list.
    These municipalities are: Distrito Nacional, Santo Domingo Este , Santo Domingo Norte , Santo Domingo Oeste, Los Alcarrizos, Boca Chica, Pedro Brand, San Antonio de Guerra, San Cristóbal, Bajos de Haina, and San Gregorio de Nigua
  2. Villa Hermosa's population has been added to La Romana's population since its belongs to its Metropolitan Area.
  3. Verón-Punta Cana, a township dependent of Higüey in political matters, has been segregated (alongside with coastal Las Lagunas de Nisibón township) from Higüey's population given its large size (over 100,000 inhabitants) and geographical distance from Higüey (50 km), and listed as "Punta Cana", its English most common name.

Ethnic groups

Dominican Republic people in the town of Moca Dominican-people-cibao-1.jpg
Dominican Republic people in the town of Moca

In a 2014 population survey, 70.4% self-identified as mixed (mestizo/indio [lower-alpha 4] 58%, mulatto 12.4%), 15.8% as black, 13.5% as white, and 0.3% as "other". [4] [178] According to recent genealogical DNA studies of the Dominican population, the genetic makeup is predominantly European and Sub-Saharan African, with a lesser degree of Native American ancestry. [179] The average Dominican DNA of the founder population is estimated to be 73% European, 10% Native, and 17% African. After the Haitian and Afro-Caribbean migrations the overall percentage changed to 57% European, 8% Native and 35% African. [180] Due to mixed race Dominicans (and most Dominicans in general) being a mix of mainly European and African, with lesser amounts of indigenous Taino, they can accurately be described as "Mulatto" or "Tri-racial". [181] [182] Dominican Republic have several informal terms to loosely describe a person's degree of racial admixture, Mestizo means any type of mixed ancestry unlike in other Latin American countries it describes specifically a European/native mix, [183] Indio describes mixed race people whose skin color is between white and black. [184]

The majority of the Dominican population is tri-racial, with nearly all mixed race individuals having Taíno Native American ancestry along with European (mainly Spanish) and African ancestry. European ancestry in the mixed population typically ranges between 50% and 60% on average, while African ancestry ranges between 30% and 40%, and the Native ancestry usually ranges between 5% and 10%. European and Native ancestry tends to be strongest in cities and towns of the north-central Cibao region, and generally in the mountainous interior of the country. African ancestry is strongest in coastal areas, the southeast plain, and the border regions. [179] In Dominican Republic and some other Latin American countries, it can sometimes be difficult to determine the exact number of racial groups, because the lines between whites and lighter multiracials are very blurry, which is also true between blacks and darker multiracials. As race in Dominican Republic acts as a continuum of white—mulatto—black and not as clear cut as in places like the United States. [185] And many times in the same family, there can be people of different colors and racial phenotypes who are blood related, this is due to the large amounts of interracial mixing for hundreds of years in Dominican Republic and the Spanish Caribbean in general, allowing for high amounts of genetic diversity. [186]

Dominican Republic people in Duarte province. Dominican Republic people, San Francisco de Macoris music culture.jpg
Dominican Republic people in Duarte province.

Dominican Republic's citizenship is given by right of blood (Jus sanguinis), not right of soil, meaning being born in Dominican Republic does not guarantee citizenship if parents are illegal immigrants, [187] one would either have to be born in Dominican Republic to parents who are legal citizens or apply for citizenship, citizenship is granted quite easily to people born abroad if they can prove Dominican ancestry. [188] This means that being a Dominican citizen and being an ethnic Dominican is not always interchangeable, as the former implies citizenship that one can receive moving from any country in the world to Dominican Republic, while the latter implies a people tied by ancestry and culture. Ethnic Dominicans are people who are not only born in Dominican Republic (and have legal status) or born abroad with ancestral roots in the country, but more importantly have family roots in the country going back several generations and descend from a mix of varying degrees of Spanish, Taino, and African, the three principal foundational roots of Dominican Republic. [181] [189] Nearly all Dominicans are mixed race, with 75% being "visibly" and "evenly" mixed, and the remaining 25% being predominantly of African or European blood but still with notable admixture. [190] According to a 2017 estimate from the Dominican government, Dominican Republic had a population of 10,189,895, of which 847,979 were immigrants or descendants of recent immigrants and 9,341,916 were ethnic Dominicans. [191] Most Dominicans embrace all sides of their mixed race heritage, but often identify with their nationality first and foremost. Many Dominicans born in the United States now reside in the Dominican Republic, creating a kind of expatriate community, whom have growing influence and play a significant role in the economic growth in Dominican Republic. [192] [193] [194] [195]

Haitians make up the largest ethnic immigrant group in the country, a large majority of them are illegal, in a distant second place are the Venezuelans. [196] [197] Other groups in the country include the descendants of West Asians—mostly Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians. A smaller, yet significant presence of East Asians (primarily ethnic Chinese and Japanese) can also be found throughout the population. Dominicans are also composed of Sephardic Jews that were exiled from Spain and the Mediterranean area in 1492 and 1497, [198] coupled with other migrations dating to the 1700s [199] and during the Second World War [200] contribute to Dominican ancestry. [201] [202]


The population of the Dominican Republic is mostly Spanish-speaking, with the only people who do not speak Spanish fluently being some immigrants. The local variant of Spanish is called Dominican Spanish, which closely resembles other Spanish vernaculars in the Caribbean and has similarities to Canarian Spanish. In addition, it has influences from African languages and borrowed words from indigenous Caribbean languages particular to the island of Hispaniola. [203] [204] Schools are based on a Spanish educational model; English and French are mandatory foreign languages in both private and public schools, [205] [ failed verification ] although the quality of foreign languages teaching is poor. [206] [ better source needed ] Some private educational institutes provide teaching in other languages, notably Italian, Japanese and Mandarin. [207] [208]

Haitian Creole is the largest minority language in the Dominican Republic and is spoken by Haitian immigrants and their descendants. [209] There is a community of a few thousand people whose ancestors spoke Samaná English in the Samaná Peninsula. They are the descendants of formerly enslaved African Americans who arrived in the nineteenth century, but only a few elders speak the language today. [210] Tourism, American pop culture, the influence of Dominican Americans, and the country's economic ties with the United States motivate other Dominicans to learn English. The Dominican Republic is ranked 2nd in Latin America and 23rd in the World on English proficiency as a second language. [211] [212]

Mother tongue of the Dominican population, 1950 Census [213]
LanguageTotal %Urban %Rural %
Spanish 98.0097.8298.06
French 1.190.391.44
English 0.570.960.45
Arabic 0.090.350.01
Other language0.120.350.04


The Gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria la Menor, Santo Domingo, is the oldest cathedral in the Americas, built between 1514 and 1541. Basilica Menor de Santa Maria SD RD 02 2017 1941.jpg
The Gothic Cathedral of Santa María la Menor, Santo Domingo, is the oldest cathedral in the Americas, built between 1514 and 1541.

95.0% Christians
2.6% No religion
2.2% Other religions [214]

As of 2014, 57% of the population (5.7 million) identified themselves as Roman Catholics and 23% (2.3 million) as Protestants (in Latin American countries, Protestants are often called Evangelicos because they emphasize personal and public evangelising and many are Evangelical Protestant or of a Pentecostal group). From 1896 to 1907 missionaries from the Episcopal, Free Methodist, Seventh-day Adventist and Moravians churches began work in the Dominican Republic. [215] [216] Three percent of the 10.63 million Dominican Republic population are Seventh-day Adventists. [217] Recent immigration as well as proselytizing efforts have brought in other religious groups, with the following shares of the population: Spiritist: 2.2%, [218] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 1.3%, [219] Buddhist: 0.1%, Baháʼí: 0.1%, [218] Chinese Folk Religion: 0.1%, [218] Islam: 0.02%, Judaism: 0.01%.

The Catholic Church began to lose its strong dominance in the late 19th century. This was due to a lack of funding, priests, and support programs. During the same time, Protestant Evangelicalism began to gain wider support "with their emphasis on personal responsibility and family rejuvenation, economic entrepreneurship, and biblical fundamentalism". [220] The Dominican Republic has two Catholic patroness saints: Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia (Our Lady Of High Grace) and Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes (Our Lady Of Mercy).

The Dominican Republic has historically granted extensive religious freedom. According to the United States Department of State, "The constitution specifies that there is no state church and provides for freedom of religion and belief. A concordat with the Vatican designates Catholicism as the official religion and extends special privileges to the Catholic Church not granted to other religious groups. These include the legal recognition of church law, use of public funds to underwrite some church expenses, and complete exoneration from customs duties." [221] In the 1950s restrictions were placed upon churches by the government of Trujillo. Letters of protest were sent against the mass arrests of government adversaries. Trujillo began a campaign against the Catholic Church and planned to arrest priests and bishops who preached against the government. This campaign ended before it was put into place, with his assassination.

During World War II a group of Jews escaping Nazi Germany fled to the Dominican Republic and founded the city of Sosúa. It has remained the center of the Jewish population since. [222]

Immigration in the 20th and 21st centuries

Family of Japanese descent in Constanza's neighbourhood of Colonia Japonesa Colonia Japonesa.jpg
Family of Japanese descent in Constanza's neighbourhood of Colonia Japonesa

In the 20th century, many Arabs (from Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine), [223] Japanese, and, to a lesser degree, Koreans settled in the country as agricultural laborers and merchants. The Chinese companies found business in telecom, mining, and railroads. The Arab community is rising at an increasing rate and is estimated at 80,000. [223]

Immigrant groups in the country include West Asians—mostly Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians; the current president, Luis Abinader, is of Lebanese descent. [224] [225] East Asians, Koreans, [226] ethnic Chinese and Japanese, can also be found. [225] Europeans are represented mostly by Spanish whites but also with smaller populations of Germans, [226] Italians, French, British, [227] [226] Dutch, Swiss, [226] Russians, [226] and Hungarians. [225]

In addition, there are descendants of immigrants who came from other Caribbean islands, including St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua, St. Vincent, Montserrat, Tortola, St. Croix, St. Thomas, and Guadeloupe. They are known locally as Cocolos . They worked on sugarcane plantations and docks and settled mainly in the cities of San Pedro de Macorís and Puerto Plata. Puerto Rican, and to a lesser extent, Cuban immigrants fled to the Dominican Republic from the mid-1800s until about 1940 due to a poor economy and social unrest in their respective home countries. [228] Many Puerto Rican immigrants settled in Higüey, among other cities, and quickly assimilated due to similar culture. Before and during World War II, 800 Jewish refugees moved to the Dominican Republic. [229] [ failed verification ]

Numerous immigrants have come from other Caribbean countries, as the country has offered economic opportunities. There are many Haitians and Venezuelans living in the Dominican Republic, there are the largest immigrant groups in the country currently, and large numbers of both groups are present in the country illegally. [4] There is an increasing number of well-off Puerto Rican immigrants, owning businesses and vacation homes in the country, many retiring there, they are believed to number around 10,000. [230] [231] Many Europeans and Americans (non-Puerto Rican) are also retiring in the country. [232]

The 2010 Census registered 311,969 Haitians; 24,457 Americans; 6,691 Spaniards; 5,763 Puerto Ricans; and 5,132 Venezuelans. [233] In 2012, the Dominican government made a survey of immigrants in the country and found that there were: 329,281 Haitian-born; 25,814 U.S.-born (excluding Puerto Rican-born); 7,062 Spanish-born; 6,083 Puerto Rican-born; 5,417 Venezuelan-born; 3,841 Cuban-born; 3,795 Italian-born; 3,606 Colombian-born; 2,043 French-born; 1,661 German-born; 1,484 Chinese-born; among others. [234] [235] [236] [237] In the second half of 2017, a second survey of foreign population was conducted in the Dominican Republic. The total population in the Dominican Republic was estimated at 10,189,895, of which 9,341,916 were Dominicans with no foreign background. According to the survey, the majority of the people with foreign background were of Haitian origin (751,080 out of 847,979, or 88.6%), breaking down as follows: 497,825 were Haitians born in Haiti, 171,859 Haitians born in the Dominican Republic and 81,590 Dominicans with a Haitian parent. Other main sources of foreign-born population were Venezuela (25,872), the United States (10,016), Spain (7,592), Italy (3,713), China (3,069), Colombia (2,642), Puerto Rico (2,356), and Cuba (2,024). [238]

Haitian immigration

A satellite image of the border between Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic (right), highlighting the deforestation on the Haitian side Haiti deforestation.jpg
A satellite image of the border between Haiti (left) and the Dominican Republic (right), highlighting the deforestation on the Haitian side
Dominicans and Haitians lined up to attend medical providers from the U.S. Army Reserve Dominicans and Haitians Braving the Weather.jpg
Dominicans and Haitians lined up to attend medical providers from the U.S. Army Reserve
View of border region between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The border runs horizontally through the middle of the picture. Haitian-Dominican border in Grand-Bois, Cornillon, Haiti, June 2017 3.jpg
View of border region between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The border runs horizontally through the middle of the picture.
Haitian workers being transported in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic One Too Many; 50+ Haitian Workers In Transit.jpg
Haitian workers being transported in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic

Human Rights Watch estimated that 70,000 documented Haitian immigrants and 1,930,000 undocumented immigrants were living in Dominican Republic. [lower-alpha 5]

Haiti is the neighboring nation to the Dominican Republic and is considerably poorer, less developed and is additionally the least developed country in the western hemisphere. In 2003, 80% of all Haitians were poor (54% living in abject poverty) and 47.1% were illiterate. The country of nine million people also has a fast growing population, but over two-thirds of the labor force lack formal jobs. Haiti's per capita GDP (PPP) was $1,800 in 2017, or just over one-tenth of the Dominican figure. [4] [244]

As a result, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have migrated to the Dominican Republic, with some estimates of 800,000 Haitians in the country, [152] while others put the Haitian-born population as high as one million. [245] They usually work at low-paying and unskilled jobs in building construction and house cleaning and in sugar plantations. [246] There have been accusations that some Haitian immigrants work in slavery-like conditions and are severely exploited. [247]

Due to the lack of basic amenities and medical facilities in Haiti a large number of Haitian women, often arriving with several health problems, cross the border to Dominican soil. They deliberately come during their last weeks of pregnancy to obtain medical attention for childbirth, since Dominican public hospitals do not refuse medical services based on nationality or legal status. Statistics from a hospital in Santo Domingo report that over 22% of childbirths are by Haitian mothers. [248]

Haiti also suffers from severe environmental degradation. Deforestation is rampant in Haiti; today less than 4 percent of Haiti's forests remain, and in many places the soil has eroded right down to the bedrock. [249] Haitians burn wood charcoal for 60% of their domestic energy production. Because of Haiti running out of plant material to burn, some Haitian bootleggers have created an illegal market for charcoal on the Dominican side. Conservative estimates calculate the illegal movement of 115 tons of charcoal per week from the Dominican Republic to Haiti. Dominican officials estimate that at least 10 trucks per week are crossing the border loaded with charcoal. [250]

In 2005, Dominican President Leonel Fernández criticized collective expulsions of Haitians as having taken place "in an abusive and inhuman way". [251] After a UN delegation issued a preliminary report stating that it found a profound problem of racism and discrimination against people of Haitian origin, Dominican Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso issued a formal statement denouncing it, asserting that "our border with Haiti has its problems[;] this is our reality and it must be understood. It is important not to confuse national sovereignty with indifference, and not to confuse security with xenophobia." [252]

Haitian nationals send half a billion dollars total yearly in remittance from the Dominican Republic to Haiti, according to the World Bank. [253]

The government of the Dominican Republic invested a total of $16 billion pesos in health services offered to foreign patients in 2013–2016, according to official data, which includes medical expenses in blood transfusion, clinical analysis, surgeries and other care. [254] According to official reports, the country spends more than five billion Dominican pesos annually in care for pregnant women who cross the border ready to deliver. [255]

The children of Haitian immigrants are eligible for Haitian nationality, [256] but they may be denied it by Haiti because of a lack of proper documents or witnesses. [257] [258] [259] [260]


Dominicans in the Dominican Day Parade in New York City, 2019 Dominican Day Parade 2019 (50335870922).jpg
Dominicans in the Dominican Day Parade in New York City, 2019

The first of three late-20th century emigration waves began in 1961 after the assassination of dictator Trujillo, [261] due to fear of retaliation by Trujillo's allies and political uncertainty in general. In 1965, the United States began a military occupation of the Dominican Republic to end a civil war. Upon this, the U.S. eased travel restrictions, making it easier for Dominicans to obtain U.S. visas. [262] From 1966 to 1978, the exodus continued, fueled by high unemployment and political repression. Communities established by the first wave of immigrants to the U.S. created a network that assisted subsequent arrivals. [263]

In the early 1980s, underemployment, inflation, and the rise in value of the dollar all contributed to a third wave of emigration from the Dominican Republic. Today, emigration from the Dominican Republic remains high. [263] In 2012, there were approximately 1.7 million people of Dominican descent in the U.S., counting both native- and foreign-born. [264] There was also a growing Dominican immigration to Puerto Rico, with nearly 70,000 Dominicans living there as of 2010. Although that number is slowly decreasing and immigration trends have reversed because of Puerto Rico's economic crisis as of 2016.

There is a significant Dominican population in Spain. [265] [266]


Kids taking classes Dominican kids in Santo Domingo.jpg
Kids taking classes

Primary education is regulated by the Ministry of Education, with education being a right of all citizens and youth in the Dominican Republic. [267]

Preschool education is organized in different cycles and serves the 2–4 age group and the 4–6 age group. Preschool education is not mandatory except for the last year. Basic education is compulsory and serves the population of the 6–14 age group. Secondary education is not compulsory, although it is the duty of the state to offer it for free. It caters to the 14–18 age group and is organized in a common core of four years and three modes of two years of study that are offered in three different options: general or academic, vocational (industrial, agricultural, and services), and artistic.

The higher education system consists of institutes and universities. The institutes offer courses of a higher technical level. The universities offer technical careers, undergraduate and graduate; these are regulated by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology. [268] The Dominican Republic was ranked 94th in the Global Innovation Index in 2023, down from 87th in 2019. [269] [270] [271]


In 2020, the Dominican Republic had an estimated birth rate of 18.5 per 1000 and a death rate of 6.3 per 1000. [4]


In 2012, the Dominican Republic had a murder rate of 22.1 per 100,000 population. [272] There was a total of 2,268 murders in the Dominican Republic in 2012. [272]

The Dominican Republic has become a trans-shipment point for Colombian drugs destined for Europe as well as the United States and Canada. [4] [273] Money-laundering via the Dominican Republic is favored by Colombian drug cartels for the ease of illicit financial transactions. [4] In 2004, it was estimated that 8% of all cocaine smuggled into the United States had come through the Dominican Republic. [274] The Dominican Republic responded with increased efforts to seize drug shipments, arrest and extradite those involved, and combat money-laundering.

The often-light treatment of violent criminals has been a continuous source of local controversy. In April 2010, five teenagers, aged 15 to 17, shot and killed two taxi drivers and killed another five by forcing them to drink drain-cleaning acid. On September 24, 2010, the teens were sentenced to prison terms of three to five years, despite the protests of the taxi drivers' families. [275]


Campesino cibaeno, 1941 (Museo de Arte Moderno, Santo Domingo) Yoryi Morel 02.jpg
Campesino cibaeño, 1941 (Museo de Arte Moderno, Santo Domingo)

Due to cultural syncretism, the culture and customs of the Dominican people have a European cultural basis, influenced by both African and native Taíno elements, although endogenous elements have emerged within Dominican culture; [276] culturally the Dominican Republic is among the most-European countries in Spanish America, alongside Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. [276] [ failed verification ] Spanish institutions in the colonial era were able to predominate in the Dominican culture's making-of as a relative success in the acculturation and cultural assimilation of African slaves slightly diminished African cultural influence in comparison to other Caribbean countries.


Church and Convent, Colonial Santo Domingo Church and Convent Regina Angelorum CCSD 07 2018 0762.jpg
Church and Convent, Colonial Santo Domingo

The architecture in the Dominican Republic represents a complex blend of diverse cultures. The deep influence of the European colonists is the most evident throughout the country. Characterized by ornate designs and baroque structures, the style can best be seen in the capital city of Santo Domingo, which is home to the first cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress in all of the Americas, located in the city's Colonial Zone, an area declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. [277] [278] The designs carry over into the villas and buildings throughout the country. It can also be observed on buildings that contain stucco exteriors, arched doors and windows, and red tiled roofs.

The indigenous peoples of the Dominican Republic have also had a significant influence on the architecture of the country. The Taíno people relied heavily on the mahogany and guano (dried palm tree leaf) to put together crafts, artwork, furniture, and houses. Utilizing mud, thatched roofs, and mahogany trees, they gave buildings and the furniture inside a natural look, seamlessly blending in with the island's surroundings.

Lately, with the rise in tourism and increasing popularity as a Caribbean vacation destination, architects in the Dominican Republic have now begun to incorporate cutting-edge designs that emphasize luxury. In many ways an architectural playground, villas and hotels implement new styles, while offering new takes on the old. This new style is characterized by simplified, angular corners and large windows that blend outdoor and indoor spaces. As with the culture as a whole, contemporary architects embrace the Dominican Republic's rich history and various cultures to create something new. Surveying modern villas, one can find any combination of the three major styles: a villa may contain angular, modernist building construction, Spanish Colonial-style arched windows, and a traditional Taíno hammock in the bedroom balcony.

Visual arts

Dominican art is perhaps most commonly associated with the bright, vibrant colors and images that are sold in every tourist gift shop across the country. However, the country has a long history of fine art that goes back to the middle of the 1800s when the country became independent and the beginnings of a national art scene emerged.

Historically, the painting of this time were centered around images connected to national independence, historical scenes, portraits but also landscapes and images of still life. Styles of painting ranged between neoclassicism and romanticism. Between 1920 and 1940 the art scene was influenced by styles of realism and impressionism. Dominican artists were focused on breaking from previous, academic styles in order to develop more independent and individual styles.


The 20th century brought many prominent Dominican writers, and saw a general increase in the perception of Dominican literature. Writers such as Juan Bosch (one of the greatest storytellers in Latin America), Pedro Mir (national poet of the Dominican Republic [279] [280] [281] ), Aida Cartagena Portalatin (poet par excellence who spoke in the Era of Rafael Trujillo), Emilio Rodríguez Demorizi (the most important Dominican historian, with more than 1000 written works [282] [283] [284] [285] ), Manuel del Cabral (main Dominican poet featured in black poetry [286] [287] ), Hector Inchustegui Cabral (considered one of the most prominent voices of the Caribbean social poetry of the twentieth century [288] [289] [290] [291] ), Miguel Alfonseca (poet belonging to Generation 60 [292] [293] ), Rene del Risco (acclaimed poet who was a participant in the June 14 Movement [294] [295] [296] ), Mateo Morrison (excellent poet and writer with numerous awards), among many more prolific authors, put the island in one of the most important in Literature in the twentieth century.

New 21st-century Dominican writers have not yet achieved the renown of their 20th-century counterparts. However, writers such as Frank Báez (won the 2006 Santo Domingo Book Fair First Prize) [297] [298] and Junot Díaz (2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) [299] lead Dominican literature in the 21st century.

Music and dance

Merengue, sung by Juan Luis Guerra (left), and bachata, sung by Romeo Santos (right), are two very popular music genres native to the Dominican Republic. Romeo Santos y Juan Luis Guerra.jpg
Merengue, sung by Juan Luis Guerra (left), and bachata, sung by Romeo Santos (right), are two very popular music genres native to the Dominican Republic.

Musically, the Dominican Republic is known for the world popular musical style and genre called merengue, [300] :376–7 a type of lively, fast-paced rhythm and dance music consisting of a tempo of about 120 to 160 beats per minute (though it varies) based on musical elements like drums, brass, chorded instruments, and accordion, as well as some elements unique to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, such as the tambora and güira .

Its syncopated beats use Latin percussion, brass instruments, bass, and piano or keyboard. Between 1937 and 1950 merengue music was promoted internationally by Dominican groups like Billo's Caracas Boys, Chapuseaux and Damiron "Los Reyes del Merengue", Joseito Mateo, and others. Radio, television, and international media popularized it further. Some well known merengue performers are Wilfrido Vargas, Johnny Ventura, singer-songwriter Los Hermanos Rosario, Juan Luis Guerra, Fernando Villalona, Eddy Herrera, Sergio Vargas, Toño Rosario, Milly Quezada, and Chichí Peralta.

Merengue became popular in the United States, mostly on the East Coast, during the 1980s and 1990s, [300] :375 when many Dominican artists residing in the U.S. (particularly New York) started performing in the Latin club scene and gained radio airplay. They included Victor Roque y La Gran Manzana, Henry Hierro, Zacarias Ferreira, Aventura, and Milly Jocelyn Y Los Vecinos. The emergence of bachata , along with an increase in the number of Dominicans living among other Latino groups in New York, New Jersey, and Florida, has contributed to Dominican music's overall growth in popularity. [300] :378

Dominicans dancing in parade with traditional dress. Dominican Republic Dance.jpg
Dominicans dancing in parade with traditional dress.

Bachata, a form of music and dance that originated in the countryside and rural marginal neighborhoods of the Dominican Republic, has become quite popular in recent years. Its subjects are often romantic; especially prevalent are tales of heartbreak and sadness. In fact, the original name for the genre was amargue ("bitterness", or "bitter music"), until the rather ambiguous (and mood-neutral) term bachata became popular. Bachata grew out of, and is still closely related to, the pan-Latin American romantic style called bolero . Over time, it has been influenced by merengue and by a variety of Latin American guitar styles.

Palo is an Afro-Dominican sacred music that can be found throughout the island. The drum and human voice are the principal instruments. Palo is played at religious ceremonies—usually coinciding with saints' religious feast days—as well as for secular parties and special occasions. Its roots are in the Congo region of central-west Africa, but it is mixed with European influences in the melodies. [301]

Salsa music has had a great deal of popularity in the country. During the late 1960s Dominican musicians like Johnny Pacheco, creator of the Fania All Stars, played a significant role in the development and popularization of the genre.

Dominican rock and Reggaeton are also popular. Many, if not the majority, of its performers are based in Santo Domingo and Santiago.


Dominican native, fashion designer and perfume maker Oscar de la Renta Oscar de la Renta by foto di matti.jpg
Dominican native, fashion designer and perfume maker Oscar de la Renta

The country boasts one of the ten most important design schools in the region, La Escuela de Diseño de Altos de Chavón, which is making the country a key player in the world of fashion and design. Noted fashion designer Oscar de la Renta was born in the Dominican Republic in 1932, and became a US citizen in 1971. He studied under the leading Spaniard designer Cristóbal Balenciaga and then worked with the house of Lanvin in Paris. By 1963, he had designs bearing his own label. After establishing himself in the US, de la Renta opened boutiques across the country.[ clarification needed ] His work blends French and Spaniard fashion with American styles. [302] [303] Although he settled in New York, de la Renta also marketed his work in Latin America, where it became very popular, and remained active in his native Dominican Republic, where his charitable activities and personal achievements earned him the Juan Pablo Duarte Order of Merit and the Order of Cristóbal Colón. [303] De la Renta died of complications from cancer on October 20, 2014.


Chicharron mixto, a common dish in the country derived from Andalusia in southern Spain ChicharronMixto.JPG
Chicharrón mixto, a common dish in the country derived from Andalusia in southern Spain

Dominican cuisine is predominantly Spanish, Taíno, and African in origin. The typical cuisine is similar to what can be found in other Latin American countries. [304] One breakfast dish consists of eggs and mangú (mashed, boiled plantain). Heartier versions of mangú are accompanied by deep-fried meat (Dominican salami, typically), cheese, or both. Lunch, generally the largest and most important meal of the day, usually consists of rice, meat, beans, and salad. "La Bandera" (literally "The Flag") is the most popular lunch dish; it consists of meat and red beans on white rice. Sancocho is a stew often made with seven varieties of meat.

Meals tend to favor meats and starches over dairy products and vegetables. Many dishes are made with sofrito , which is a mix of local herbs used as a wet rub for meats and sautéed to bring out all of a dish's flavors. Throughout the south-central coast, bulgur, or whole wheat, is a main ingredient in quipes or tipili (bulgur salad). Other favorite Dominican foods include chicharrón , yuca , casabe , pastelitos (empanadas), batata , ñame, pasteles en hoja , chimichurris , and tostones .

Some treats Dominicans enjoy are arroz con leche (or arroz con dulce), bizcocho dominicano (lit. "Dominican cake"), habichuelas con dulce , flan, frío frío (snow cones), dulce de leche, and caña (sugarcane). The beverages Dominicans enjoy are Morir Soñando , rum, beer, Mama Juana , [305] batidas (smoothie), jugos naturales (freshly squeezed fruit juices), mabí , coffee, and chaca (also called maiz caqueao/casqueado, maiz con dulce and maiz con leche), the last item being found only in the southern provinces of the country such as San Juan.

National symbols

Bayahibe rose Pereskia quisqueyana.JPG
Bayahibe rose

Some of the Dominican Republic's important symbols are the flag, the coat of arms, and the national anthem, titled Himno Nacional . The flag has a large white cross that divides it into four quarters. Two quarters are red and two are blue. Red represents the blood shed by the liberators. Blue expresses God's protection over the nation. The white cross symbolizes the struggle of the liberators to bequeath future generations a free nation. An alternative interpretation is that blue represents the ideals of progress and liberty, whereas white symbolizes peace and unity among Dominicans. [306]

In the center of the cross is the Dominican coat of arms, in the same colors as the national flag. The coat of arms pictures a red, white, and blue flag-draped shield with a Bible, a gold cross, and arrows; the shield is surrounded by an olive branch (on the left) and a palm branch (on the right). The Bible traditionally represents the truth and the light. The gold cross symbolizes the redemption from slavery, and the arrows symbolize the noble soldiers and their proud military. A blue ribbon above the shield reads, "Dios, Patria, Libertad" (meaning "God, Fatherland, Liberty"). A red ribbon under the shield reads, "República Dominicana" (meaning "Dominican Republic"). Out of all the flags in the world, the depiction of a Bible is unique to the Dominican flag.

The national flower is the endemic Bayahibe rose (Leuenbergeria quisqueyana) and the national tree is the West Indian mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni). [307] The national bird is the cigua palmera or palmchat (Dulus dominicus), another endemic species. [308]

The Dominican Republic celebrates Dia de la Altagracia on January 21 in honor of its patroness, Duarte's Day on January 26 in honor of one of its founding fathers, Independence Day on February 27, Restoration Day on August 16, Virgen de las Mercedes on September 24, and Constitution Day on November 6.


Dominican native and Major League Baseball player Albert Pujols Albert Pujols4.jpg
Dominican native and Major League Baseball player Albert Pujols

Baseball is by far the most popular sport in the Dominican Republic. [300] :59 The Dominican Professional Baseball League consists of six teams. Its season usually begins in October and ends in January. After the United States, the Dominican Republic has the second-highest number of Major League Baseball (MLB) players. Ozzie Virgil Sr. became the first Dominican-born player in MLB on September 23, 1956. Adrián Beltré, Vladimir Guerrero, Juan Marichal, Pedro Martínez, and David Ortiz are the only Dominican-born players in the Baseball Hall of Fame. [309] Other notable baseball players born in the Dominican Republic are José Bautista, Robinson Canó, Rico Carty, Bartolo Colón, Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnación, Cristian Javier, Ubaldo Jiménez, Francisco Liriano, Plácido Polanco, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramírez, Manny Ramírez, José Reyes, Alfonso Soriano, Sammy Sosa, Juan Soto, Fernando Tatís Jr., Miguel Tejada, and Framber Valdez. Felipe Alou has also enjoyed success as a manager [310] and Omar Minaya as a general manager. In 2013, the Dominican team went undefeated en route to winning the World Baseball Classic.

In boxing, the country has produced scores of world-class fighters and several world champions, [311] such as Carlos Cruz, his brother Leo, Juan Guzman, and Joan Guzman.

Basketball also enjoys a relatively high level of popularity. Tito Horford, his son Al, Felipe Lopez, and Francisco Garcia are among the Dominican-born players currently or formerly in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Olympic gold medalist and world champion hurdler Félix Sánchez hails from the Dominican Republic, as do former NFL defensive end Luis Castillo and 2020 World and European Cyclo-cross champion Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado. [312]

Other important sports are volleyball, introduced in 1916 by U.S. Marines and controlled by the Dominican Volleyball Federation, taekwondo, in which Gabriel Mercedes won an Olympic silver medal in 2008, and judo. [313]

See also


  1. /dəˈmɪnɪkən/ də-MIN-ik-ən; Spanish: República Dominicana, pronounced [reˈpuβlikaðominiˈkana]
  2. Terrenos comuneros arose because of "scarce population, low value of the land, the absence of officials qualified to survey the lands, and the difficulty of dividing up the ranch in such a way that each would receive a share of the grasslands, forests, streams, palm groves, and small agricultural plots that, only when combined, made possible the exploitation of the ranch." (Hoetink, The Dominican People: Notes for a Historical Sociology transl. Stephen Ault Pg. 83 (Johns Hopkins Press: Baltimore, 1982))
  3. Fearing an attack from the Dominican Republic, Cuban leader Fidel Castro sought to acquire jet aircraft as a preventive measure. With only one jet aircraft compared to the Dominican Republic's 40, Cuba's ability to defend against an air attack was precarious. [106] The Dominican Air Force had the theoretical ability to reach and bomb Havana within 3 hours.
  4. The term "indio" in the Dominican Republic is not associated with people of indigenous ancestry but people of mixed ancestry or skin color between light and dark
  5. Illegal immigration from Haiti has resulted in government action. Immigration from Haiti has increased tensions between Dominicans and Haitians. [239] [240] [241] [242] [243] The Dominican Republic is also home to 114,050 illegal immigrants from Venezuela. [4]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the Dominican Republic</span> Historical development of the Dominican Republic

The recorded history of the Dominican Republic began in 1492 when the Genoa-born navigator Christopher Columbus, working for the Crown of Castile, happened upon a large island in the region of the western Atlantic Ocean that later came to be known as the Caribbean. It was inhabited by the Taíno, an Arawakan people, who called the eastern part of the island Quisqueya (Kiskeya), meaning "mother of all lands." Columbus promptly claimed the island for the Spanish Crown, naming it La Isla Española, later Latinized to Hispaniola. After 25 years of Spanish occupation, the Taíno population in the Spanish-dominated parts of the island drastically decreased through genocide. With fewer than 50,000 remaining, the survivors intermixed with Spaniards, Africans, and others, forming the present-day tripartite Dominican population. What would become the Dominican Republic was the Spanish Captaincy General of Santo Domingo until 1821, except for a time as a French colony from 1795 to 1809. It was then part of a unified Hispaniola with Haiti from 1822 until 1844. In 1844, Dominican independence was proclaimed and the republic, which was often known as Santo Domingo until the early 20th century, maintained its independence except for a short Spanish occupation from 1861 to 1865 and occupation by the United States from 1916 to 1924.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hispaniola</span> Caribbean island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti

Hispaniola is an island in the Caribbean that is part of the Greater Antilles. Hispaniola is the most populous island in the West Indies, and the region's second largest in area, after the island of Cuba. The 76,192-square-kilometre (29,418 sq mi) island is divided into two separate nations: the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic (48,445 km2 to the east and the French/Haitian Creole-speaking Haiti (27,750 km2 to the west. The only other divided island in the Caribbean is Saint Martin, which is shared between France and the Netherlands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Santo Domingo</span> Capital and largest city of the Dominican Republic

Santo Domingo, once known as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, known as Ciudad Trujillo between 1936 and 1961, is the capital and largest city of the Dominican Republic and the largest metropolitan area in the Caribbean by population. As of 2022, the city and immediate surrounding area had a population of 1,029,110 while the total population is 3,798,699 when including Greater Santo Domingo. The city is coterminous with the boundaries of the Distrito Nacional, itself bordered on three sides by Santo Domingo Province.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">National Anthem of the Dominican Republic</span> National anthem of the Caribbean state

The national anthem of the Dominican Republic, also known by its incipit Valiant Quisqueyans, was composed by José Rufino Reyes y Siancas (1835–1905), and its lyrics were authored by Emilio Prud'Homme (1856–1932).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">People of the Dominican Republic</span> People who are associated with the Dominican Republic

Dominicans are an ethno-national people, a people of shared ancestry and culture, who have ancestral roots in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican ethnic group was born out of a fusion of European, native Taino, and African elements, which is an ethnic fusion that goes back to the 16th century. Due to this fusion, the majority of Dominicans are of mixed-race heritage, tracing roots mainly to these three sources with the vast majority being of predominant African ancestry. The demonym Dominican can be traced as far back as the 1621. The name came from Santo Domingo, which was not only the name of the capital city but also of the entire island at the time, Spain used this term to refer to the inhabitants of Spanish province of Santo Domingo. Recent immigrants and their children, who are legal citizens of the Dominican Republic, can be considered "Dominican" by nationality but not ethnicity due to not having ancestral roots in the country.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Culture of the Dominican Republic</span> Overview of the culture of Dominican Republic

The culture of the Dominican Republic is a diverse mixture of different influences from around the world. The Dominican people and their customs have origins consisting predominantly in a European cultural basis, with native Taíno and African influences.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Provinces of the Dominican Republic</span> First-level administrative divisions of the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is divided into thirty-one provincias, while the national capital, Santo Domingo, is contained within its own Distrito Nacional.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Santiago de los Caballeros</span> City in Santiago, Dominican Republic

Santiago de los Caballeros, often shortened to Santiago, is the second-largest city in the Dominican Republic and the fourth-largest city in the Caribbean by population. It is the capital of Santiago Province and the largest major metropolis in the Cibao region of the country. Santiago is the largest Caribbean city that is not a capital city, and it is also the largest non-coastal metropolis in the Caribbean islands. The city has a total population of 771,748 inhabitants (2022). Santiago is located approximately 155 km (96 mi) northwest of the capital Santo Domingo with an average altitude of 178 m (584 ft).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dominican peso</span> Currency of the Dominican Republic

Peso dominicano has been the name of the currency of the Dominican Republic since 2010. Its symbol is "$", with "RD$" used when distinction from other pesos is required; its ISO 4217 code is "DOP". Each peso is divided into 100 centavos ("cents"), for which the ¢ symbol is used. With exception of the United States dollar, it is the only currency that is legal tender in the Dominican Republic for all monetary transactions, whether public or private.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cibao</span> Place in Dominican Republic

The Cibao, usually referred as "El Cibao", is a region of the Dominican Republic located at the northern part of the country. As of 2009 the Cibao has a population of 5,622,378 making it the most populous region in the country.

Afro-Dominicans are Dominicans of predominant or full Black African ancestry. Approximately 7.9 million people in the Dominican Republic are of African descent, However due to the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, most Dominicans refuse to acknowledge their African ancestry, making those who do identify as black a minority in the country representing 7.8% of the population, according to a census bureau survey in 2022. About 4.0% of the people surveyed claim an Afro-Caribbean immigrant background, while only 0.2% acknowledged Haitian descent. Currently there are many black illegal immigrants from Haiti, who are not included within the Afro-Dominican demographics as they are not legal citizens of the nation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bánica</span> Place in Elías Piña, Dominican Republic

San Francisco de Bánica, or simply Bánica, is a town and municipality in the northwest region of Dominican Republic in the Elías Piña province. It is located on the border with Haiti near the Artibonite river. The name Bánica comes from the Taíno name of the region, Banique.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Francisco Henríquez y Carvajal</span>

Francisco Hilario Henríquez y Carvajal was a medical doctor, lawyer, writer, educator and politician from the Dominican Republic, who served as president just prior to the US occupation of the country.

White Dominicans are Dominican people of predominant or full European descent. They are 17.8% of the Dominican Republic's population, according to a 2021 survey by the United Nations Population Fund. The majority of white Dominicans have ancestry from the first European settlers to arrive in Hispaniola in 1492 and are descendants of the Spanish and Portuguese who settled in the island during colonial times, as well as the French who settled in the 17th and 18th centuries. Many whites in the Dominican Republic also descend from Italians, Dutchmen, Germans, Hungarians, Scandinavians, Americans and other nationalities who have migrated between the 19th and 20th centuries. About 9.2% of the Dominican population claims a European immigrant background, according to the 2021 Fondo de Población de las Naciones Unidas survey.

Franklin Franco Pichardo was a Dominican historian, sociologist, faculty member and politician from the Dominican Republic.

The Haitian minority of the Dominican Republic is the largest ethnic minority in the Dominican Republic since the early 20th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tourism in the Dominican Republic</span> Overview of tourism in the Dominican Republic

Tourism in the Dominican Republic is an important sector of the country's economy. More than 10 million tourists visited the Dominican Republic in 2023, making it the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean and putting it in the top 5 overall in the Americas. The industry accounts for 11.6% of the nation's GDP and is a particularly important source of revenue in coastal areas of the country. The nation's tropical climate, white sand beaches, diverse mountainous landscape and colonial history attracts visitors from around the world. In 2022, the nation's tourism was named the best-performing nation post-pandemic with over 5% visitors more in comparison to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

Elnis Palomino Castillo is a Dominican Republic male volleyball player who competed with the Dominican club La Romana in the 2013 FIVB Club World Championship.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dominican Republic–Spain relations</span> Bilateral relations

Dominican Republic–Spain relations are the bilateral relations between the Dominican Republic and Spain. Both nations are members of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language and the Organization of Ibero-American States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mixed Dominicans</span> Dominicans of mixed racial origins

Mixed Dominicans, also referred to as mulatto, mestizo or historically quadroon, are Dominicans who are of mixed racial ancestry. Representing 73.9% of the Dominican Republic's population, they are by far the single largest racial grouping of the country.


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