The Dominican Republic is located in the Caribbean sea. It forms part of The Greater Antilles together with Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and Puerto Rico. It shares the island Hispaniola or Santo Domingo with the Republic of Haiti. It is the second largest island in the Caribbean. This is a geographically diverse island, with an extremely rich bio-diversity counting numerous endemic plants and animals.
Plage de Las Galeras. Photo Patrice Dilly.
The Island of Hispaniola or Santo Domingo was the first New World colony settled by Spain. It was discovered, to the Europeans by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage in 1492, the island of Hispaniola became a facilitator for Spanish conquest of the Caribbean and the American mainland. In 1697, Spain recognized French dominion over the western third of the island, which in 1804 become the Republic of Haiti. The remainder of the island, by then known as Santo Domingo, sought to gain its own independence in 1821, but was conquered and ruled by the Republic of Haiti for 22 years; it finally attained independence as the Dominican Republic in 1844. In 1861, the Dominicans willingly returned to the Spanish Empire, but two years later they launched a war that restored independence in 1865. A legacy of unsettled, mostly non-representative rule followed, capped by the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo from 1930-1961. Juan Bosch was elected president in 1962, but was deposed in a military coup in 1963. In 1965, the United States led an intervention in the midst of a civil war sparked by an uprising to restore Bosch. In 1966, Joaquin Balaguer defeated Bosch in an election to become president. Balaguer was on power for most of the next 30 years when international reaction to faulty elections forced him to curtail his term in 1996. Since then, regular competitive elections have been held in which opposition candidates have won the presidency. Former President (1996-2000) Leonel Fernandez Reyna won election to a second term in 2004 following a constitutional amendment allowing presidents to serve more than one term.
The economy of the Dominican Republic is traditionally based on agriculture. There is also an important mining and tourism sector. The Dominican Republic is one of the poorest countries in the Caribbean and suffers from a huge gap between the rich and the poor. It is estimated that 25% of the population lives below the poverty. It ranks 94 out of 173 on the Human Development Index. Presently, the government, the private sector and different non-profit organizations are carrying out numerous projects to contribute to the sustainable development of the country.
The Dominican Republic has many outstanding beaches, clear, radiant sea, productive land, beautiful mountains, numerous pre-historical and historical sites, rich colonial architecture and fascinating Creole culture. All this made tourism a flourishing industry of the country.
The Creole culture of the Dominican Republic is of European, African and Aboriginal origin. It originated in the colonial times. Later it was enriched by Asians (Chinese, Arabians, Hindus) and Haitian. Exploitation, all kind of abused and discrimination were an important part of the colonial time. The same time when the foundation of the Creole culture were formed. A time when mutual understanding , tolerance and conscious adaptation were also an important and some time decisive factor during the foundation- shaping of the contemporary culture. The Europeans, African learned from the culture and traditions of the aborigines and vice versa. The rich contemporary culture of the Dominican Republic reflects all this.
European and African traditions blend together in the traditional and popular national music and dances, the Merengue, Mangulina, Carabine and Bachata. The Merengue with it dominant beat is the root of many colorful festivals throughout the year. Classical music and ballet dance are also were developed in the country. The classical and modern dances, such as ballet and Hip-Jop are also were develop in the country. The traditions of literature, theater, TV and Radio productions are, also very reach.
Marché de Samana. Photo Patrice Dilly.