|Native Name:||República Dominicana|
|Conventional Long Name:||Dominican Republic|
|Common Name:||Dominican Republic|
|National Motto:||"Dios, Patria, Libertad"(Spanish)|
"God, Fatherland, Liberty"
|National Anthem:||Himno Nacional|
|Ethnic Groups:||73% mixed, 16% White (Spaniards, French, Italians, others),   11% Black|
|Government Type:||Democratic Republic/Representative Democracy|
|Leader Name1:||Leonel Fernández|
|Leader Title2:||Vice President|
|Leader Name2:||Rafael Alburquerque|
|Sovereignty Note:||From Haiti|
|Established Date1:||February 27, 1844|
|Established Date2:||From Spain (second time)|
16 August 1865
|Area Magnitude:||1 E10|
|Population Estimate:||9,523,209 or 8,902,000 or 9,507,133|
|Population Estimate Rank:||82nd|
|Population Estimate Year:||2008|
|Population Census Year:||2002|
|Population Density Km2:||192|
|Population Density Sq Mi:||523|
|Population Density Rank:||57th|
|Gdp Ppp:||$76.194 billion|
|Gdp Ppp Year:||2008|
|Gdp Ppp Per Capita:||$8,559|
|Gdp Nominal:||$45.689 billion|
|Gdp Nominal Year:||2008|
|Gdp Nominal Per Capita:||$5,132|
|Calling Code:||+1-809 and +1-829|
The Dominican Republic (Spanish; Castilian: República Dominicana;) is a nation on the island of Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are occupied by two countries, Saint Martin being the other. Both by area and population, the Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean island nation (after Cuba), with 48,442 km² and an estimated 9.5 million people. 
Inhabited by Taínos since the 7th century, the Dominican Republic was reached by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, namely Santo Domingo, the country's capital and Spain's first capital in the New World. In Santo Domingo stand, among other firsts in the Americas, the first university, cathedral, and castle, the latter two in the Ciudad Colonial area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
After three centuries of Spanish rule, with French and Haitian interludes, the country became independent in 1821 but was quickly taken over by Haiti. It attained independence in 1844, but mostly suffered political turmoil and tyranny, and as well a brief return to Spanish rule, over the next 72 years. United States occupation 1916-24 and a subsequent, calm 6–year period were followed by the military dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina to 1961. The last civil war, in 1965, ended with U.S. intervention, followed by the authoritarian rule of Joaquin Balaguer, to 1978. Since 1978, the Dominican Republic has moved strongly toward representative democracy.
The Dominican Republic has also adopted a liberal economic model, which has made it perhaps the largest economy in the region. Though long known for sugar production, the economy is now dominated by services. The country's economic progress is exemplified by its advanced telecommunication system. Nevertheless, unemployment, government corruption, income maldistribution, and inconsistent electric service remain major Dominican problems.
Migration is a major issue affecting the D.R., as there are large flows of migrants to and from the country. Haitian immigration and the integration of Dominicans of Haitian descent are major issues in the Dominican Republic. The total population of Haitian origin is estimated at 800,000. A large Dominican diaspora exists, most of it in the United States, where it comprises 1.2 million. They contribute to the development of the Dominican Republic, as they send billions of dollars to the D.R., amounting to one-tenth of the GDP. 
The Dominican Republic has become the Caribbean's leading tourist destination; the country's year–round golf courses are among the top attractions. In this mountainous country is located the Caribbean's highest mountain, Pico Duarte, as is Lake Enriquillo, the Caribbean's largest lake. Quisqueya, as Dominicans often call their country, has a mild average temperature (26 °C) and is outstanding for its great biological diversity.
The inhabitants of Hispaniola were displaced by the Taínos, an Arawakan-speaking people, circa A.D. 600. The Taínos called the island Kiskeya or Quisqueya, meaning "mother of the earth", as well as Haití or Aytí, and Bohio. They engaged in farming and fishing, and hunting and gathering. There are widely varying estimates of the population of Hispaniola in 1492, including one hundred thousand, three hundred thousand, and 400,000 to 2 million. By 1492 the island was divided into five chiefdoms.
Within a few years following the arrival of Europeans the population of Taínos had declined drastically, due to changes in lifestyle, smallpox and other diseases that arrived with the Europeans, and enslavement. By 1711 the Taíno numbered just 21,000. The last record of pure Taíno natives in the country was from an 1864 account by a Spanish soldier during the Restoration War, who wrote of Taínos shooting at Spanish soldiers and fleeing. Taíno cave paintings can still be seen in a variety of caves around the country.
Christopher Columbus landed at Môle Saint-Nicolas, in northwest present-day Haiti, on December 6, 1492, during his first voyage. He claimed the island for Spain and named it La Española. Eighteen days later his flagship the Santa María ran aground near the present site of Cap-Haitien. Columbus was forced to leave 39 men, who built a fort named La Navidad (Christmas, or The Nativity). He then sailed east, exploring the northern coast of what is now the Dominican Republic, after which he returned to Spain. He sailed back to America three more times, and was buried in Santo Domingo upon his death in 1506.
After initially friendly relations, the Taínos resisted the conquest. One of the earliest leaders to fight against the Spanish was the female Chief Anacaona of Xaragua, in the southwest, who married Chief Caonabo of Maguana, of the center and south of the island. She was captured by the Spanish and executed in front of her people. Other notables who resisted include Chief Guacanagari, Chief Guamá, and Chief Hatuey, the latter of whom later fled to Cuba and helped fight the Spaniards there. Chief Enriquillo fought victoriously against the Spanish in the Baoruco Mountain Range, in the southwest, to gain freedom for himself and his people in a part of the island for a time.
By the late 1500s, the majority of Taíno people had died from European infectious diseases to which they had no immunity, from mistreatment, suicide, the breakup of family unity, starvation, forced labor, torture, and war with the Spaniards. Most scholars now believe that, among the various contributing factors, infectious disease was the overwhelming cause of the Taíno population decline. The Taíno survived mostly in racially mixed form, and today most Dominicans have Taíno ancestry. 
Some scholars believe that Bartolomé de las Casas exaggerated the Indian population decline in an effort to persuade King Carlos to intervene, and that encomenderos also exaggerated it, in order to receive permission to import more African slaves. Moreover, censuses of the time did not account for the number of Indians who fled into remote communities, where they often joined with runaway Africans, called cimarrones, producing zambos. There were also confusing issues with racial categorization, as Mestizos who were culturally Spanish were counted as Spaniards. In addition some Zambos were categorized as black and some Indians as Mulattos.
In 1496 Bartholomew Columbus, Christopher's brother, built the city of Nueva Isabela (New Isabella), now Santo Domingo, in the south of Hispaniola. It was one of the first Spanish settlements (the previous ones had also been on Hispaniola), and became Europe's first permanent settlement in the "New World".
The Spaniards created a plantation economy on Hispaniola, particularly from the second half of the 16th century. The island became a springboard for European conquest of the Caribbean islands, called Las Antillas (The Antilles), and soon after, the American mainland.
For decades, Santo Domingo was the headquarters of Spanish colonial power in the New World. But after the Spanish conquest of the mainland empires of the Aztecs and Incas, the importance of Hispaniola declined and Spain paid less attention to it. French bucaneers settled in the western part of the island, and by the 1697 Treaty of Ryswick, Spain ceded the area to France. With colonial settlement and the development of a plantation economy dependent on slave labor, it grew into the wealthy colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), with four times (500,000 vs. 125,000) as much population as Spanish Santo Domingo by the end of the 18th century. By then, enslaved Africans in Saint-Domingue outnumbered whites and freedmen by nine to one.
France came to own the whole island in 1795, when by the Peace of Basel Spain ceded Santo Domingo as a consequence of the French Revolutionary Wars. At the time, Saint–Domingue's slaves, led by Toussaint Louverture, were in revolt against France. In 1801 Toussaint Louverture captured Santo Domingo from the French, thus gaining control of the entire island.
In 1802 an army sent by Napoleon captured Toussaint Louverture and sent him to France as prisoner. However, Toussaint Louverture's successors, and yellow fever, succeeded in expelling the French again from Saint-Domingue. There the rebels declared the independence of Haiti in 1804, while to the east, France continued to rule Spanish Santo Domingo.
In 1808, following Napoleon's invasion of Spain, the criollos of Santo Domingo revolted against French rule and, with the aid of Great Britain (Spain's ally) and Haiti, returned Santo Domingo to Spanish control.
After a dozen years of Spanish rule and failed independence plots by various groups, Santo Domingo's former administrator, Lieutenant–Governor José Núñez de Cáceres, declared the colony's independence as the state of Haití Español (Spanish Haiti), on November 30, 1821. He requested admission to Simón Bolívar's nation of Gran Colombia, but Haitian forces, led by Jean-Pierre Boyer, invaded just nine weeks later, in February 1822.
As Toussaint Louverture had done the first time, the Haitians abolished slavery. But they also nationalized all public property; most private property, including all the property of landowners who had left in the wake of the invasion; much Church property; as well as all property belonging to the former rulers, the Spanish Crown. All levels of education suffered collapse; the university was shut down, as it was starved both of resources and students, since young Dominican men from 16 to 25-years-old were drafted into the Haitian army. Haiti imposed a "heavy tribute" on the Dominican people. Many whites fled Santo Domingo for Puerto Rico and Cuba (both still under Spanish rule), Venezuela, and elsewhere.
Boyer changed the Dominican economic system to place more emphasis on cash crops to be grown on large plantations, reformed the tax system, and allowed foreign trade. But the new system was widely opposed by Dominican farmers, although it produced a boom in sugar and coffee production. Boyer's troops, which included many Dominicans, were unpaid, and had to "forage and sack" from Dominican civilians. In the end the economy faltered and taxation became more onerous. Rebellions occurred even by freed Dominican slaves, while Dominicans and Haitians worked together to oust Boyer from power. Anti–Haitian movements of several kinds — pro–independence, pro–Spanish, pro–French, pro–British, pro–United States — gathered force following the overthrow of Boyer in 1843.
In 1838 Juan Pablo Duarte founded a secret society called La Trinitaria, which sought the complete independence of Santo Domingo without any foreign intervention. Ramón Matías Mella and Francisco del Rosario Sánchez (the latter of partly African ancestry), despite not being among the founding members of La Trinitaria, were decisive in the fight for independence. Duarte and they are the three Founding Fathers of the Dominican Republic. On February 27, 1844, the Trinitarios (Trinitarians), declared the independence from Haiti. They 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.
The decades that followed were filled with tyranny, factionalism, economic difficulties, rapid changes of government, and exile for political opponents. Threatening the nation's independence were renewed Haitian invasions occurring in 1844, 1845-49, 1849-55, and 1855-56.
Meanwhile, 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.
In 1861, after imprisoning, silencing, exiling, and executing many of his opponents and due to political and economic reasons, Santana signed a pact with the Spanish Crown and reverted the Dominican nation to colonial status, the only Latin American country to do so. His ostensible aim was to protect the nation from another Haitian annexation. But opponents launched the War of the Restoration in 1863, led by a group of men including Santiago Rodríguez and Benito Monción, among others. General Gregorio Luperón distinguished himself at the end of the war. Haitian authorities, fearful of the re-establishment of Spain as colonial power on their border, gave refuge and supplies to Dominican revolutionaries. The United States, then fighting its own Civil War, vigorously protested the Spanish action. After two years of fighting, Spain abandoned the island in 1865.
Political strife again prevailed in the following years; warlords ruled, military revolts were extremely common, and the nation amassed debt. In 1869 it was the turn of Báez to act on his plan of annexing the country to the United States, where President Ulysses S. Grant was supportive. An agreement was made, which included a U.S. a payment of 1.5 million dollars for Dominican debt repayment.  But the United States Senate refused approval on June 30, 1870, on a vote of 28-28, two-thirds being required.  One reason for President Grant's support was providing a home where U.S. freedmen could live free of harassment by Southern whites.
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. Relative peace came to the country in the 1880s, which saw the coming to power of General Ulises Heureaux.
"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's rule became progressively more despotic and he all the more unpopular.  In 1899 he was assassinated. However, the relative calm over which he presided allowed improvement in the Dominican economy. The sugar industry was modernized, and the country attracted foreign workers and immigrants, both from the Old World and the New.
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 Heureaux's debts, faced the threat of military intervention by France and other European creditor powers.
U.S. 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 the European powers, proclaimed his famous Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, and in 1905 obtained Dominican agreement for U.S. administration of Dominican customs, then 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. 
After six years in power, President Ramón Cáceres (who had himself assassinated Heureaux) 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 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. In order 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.
Wilson thus ordered the U.S. occupation of the Dominican Republic. U.S. Marines landed on May 16, 1916, and had control of the country two months later. The military government established by the U.S., led by Rear Admiral Harry Shepard Knapp, was widely repudiated by Dominicans. Some Cabinet posts had to be filled by U.S. naval officers, as Dominicans refused to serve in the administration. Press and radio censorship was imposed, as were limits on public speech. Guerrilla war against the U.S. forces was met with a vigorous, "often brutal" response.
But the occupation regime, which kept most Dominican laws and institutions, had its positive effects. It largely pacified the country, revived the economy, reduced the Dominican debt, built a road network that at last connected all regions of the country, and created a professional National Guard to replace the warring partisan units.
Opposition to the occupation continued, however, 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 end the occupation, as he had promised to do during his campaign. U.S. government ended in October 1922, and elections were held in March 1924.
The victor was former president (1902–03) Horacio Vásquez Lajara, who had cooperated with the U.S. He was inaugurated on July 13, and the last U.S. forces left in September. Vásquez gave the country six years of good government, in which political and civil rights were respected and the economy grew strongly, in a peaceful atmosphere. 
When Vásquez attempted to win another term, opponents rebelled in February, 1930, in secret alliance with the commander of the National Army (the former National Guard), General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, by which the latter remained 'neutral' in face of the rebellion. Vásquez resigned. Trujillo then stood for election himself, and in May was elected president virtually unopposed, after a campaign of violence in which he eliminated his strongest opponents.
There was considerable economic growth during 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 and clinics, schools, and 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 early end, in 1941, of the 1906 agreement with the U.S. He made the country debt-free in 1947, a proud achievement for Dominicans for decades to come.
But all this was accompanied by absolute repression and the copious use of murder, torture, and terroristic methods against the opposition. Moreover, Trujillo's megalomania was on display in his renaming after himself the capital city Santo Domingo to Ciudad Trujillo (Trujillo City), the nation's — and the Caribbean's — highest mountain Pico Duarte (Duarte Peak) to Pico Trujillo, and many towns and a province. Some other places he renamed after members of his family.
In 1937 Trujillo (who was himself one-quarter Haitian), in an event known as the Parsley Massacre or, in the Dominican Republic, as El Corte (The Cutting), ordered the Army to kill Haitians living on the Dominican side of the border. The Army killed an estimated 17,000 to 35,000 Haitians over six days, from the night of October 2, 1937 through October 8, 1937. To avoid leaving evidence of the Army's involvement, the soldiers used machetes rather than bullets.   The soldiers of Trujillo were said to have interrogated anyone with dark skin, using the shibboleth perejil (parsley) to tell Haitians from Dominicans. As a result of the massacre, the Dominican Republic agreed to pay Haiti US$750,000, later reduced to US$525,000. 
On November 25, 1960 Trujillo killed three of the four Mirabal Sisters, nicknamed Las Mariposas (The Butterflies). The victims were Patricia Mercedes Mirabal (born on February 27, 1924), Argentina Minerva Mirabal (born on March 12, 1926), and Antonia María Teresa Mirabal (born on October 15, 1935). Minerva was an aspiring lawyer who was extremely opposed to Trujillo's dictatorship since Trujillo had begun to make rude sexual advances towards her. 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 Hermanas Mirabal Province (Mirabal Sisters Province). The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is observed on the anniversary of their deaths. The lives and resistance of Las Mariposas is told in In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.
For a long time, the US supported the Trujillo government, as did the Roman Catholic Church, and the Dominican elite. This support persisted despite the assassinations of political opposition, the massacre of border Haitians, and Trujillo's plots against other countries. The US believed Trujillo was the lesser of two or more evils. The U.S. finally broke with Trujillo in 1960, after Trujillo's agents attempted to assassinate the Venezuelan president, Rómulo Betancourt. Trujillo was assassinated on May 30, 1961 in Santo Domingo. 
A democratically elected government under leftist Juan Bosch took office in February, 1963, but was overthrown in September. After nineteen months of military rule, a pro-Bosch revolt broke out in April, 1965. U.S. president Lyndon Johnson, concerned over the possible takeover of the revolt by pro-Castro or other communists who might create a "second Cuba", sent the Marines days later, in Operation Powerpack. They were soon joined by a comparatively small force from the Organization of American States. They remained in the country for over a year and left after supervising elections in 1966 won by Joaquín Balaguer, who had been Trujillo's last puppet–president. 
Balaguer remained in power as president for 12 years. His tenure was a period of repression of human rights and civil liberties, ostensibly to prevent pro–Castro or pro–communist parties from gaining power in the country. His rule was further criticized for a growing disparity between rich and poor. It was, however, praised for an ambitious infrastructure program, which included large housing projects, sports complexes, theaters, museums, aqueducts, roads, highways, and the massive Columbus Lighthouse, completed in a subsequent tenure in 1992. Balaguer's sister, Ema, helped in these efforts. She became well known amongst the poor for donating sewing machines, toys and building schools.
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. Under the PRD presidents, the Dominican Republic experienced a period of relative freedom and basic human rights. 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. This time Leonel Fernández achieved the first–ever win for the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), which Bosch founded in 1973 after leaving the PRD (also founded by Bosch).
In 2000 the PRD's Hipólito Mejía won the election when his main opponents Danilo Medina (PLD) and a very old Joaquín Balaguer decided not to force a runoff after Mejía got 49.8% in the first round. In 2004 Fernández was elected again, defeating President Mejía, and reelected in 2008 against the PRD's Miguel Vargas Maldonado, a former minister in Mejía's government. Fernández and the PLD are credited with a number of initiatives that have moved the country forward technologically, such as the construction of the Metro Railway ("El Metro"), available for public use since January 2009.
See main article: Government of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is a representative democracy, with national powers divided among independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The President of the Dominican Republic appoints the Cabinet, executes laws passed by the Congress, and is commander in chief of the armed forces. The president and vice president run for office on the same ticket and are elected by direct vote for 4–year terms. Legislative power is exercised by a bicameral Congress composed of the Senate (with 32 members) and the Chamber of Deputies (with 178 members).
The Dominican Republic has a multi–party political system with national elections every 2 years (alternating between presidential elections and congressional/municipal elections). Presidential elections are held in years evenly divisible by four. Congressional and municipal elections 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. Elections are supervised by a Central Elections Board (JCE) of 9 members chosen for a four–year term by each newly elected Senate. JCE decisions on electoral matters are final.
Under the constitutional reforms negotiated after the 1994 elections, the 16–member Supreme Court of Justice is appointed by a National Judicial Council, which comprises the President, the leaders of both houses of Congress, the President of the Supreme Court, and an opposition or non–governing–party member. One other Supreme Court Justice acts as secretary of the Council, a non–voting position. The Supreme Court has sole authority over management of the court system and alone hears actions against the president, designated members of his Cabinet, and members of Congress when the legislature is in session. The Supreme Court hears appeals from lower courts and chooses members of lower courts.
Each of the 31 provinces is headed by a presidentially appointed governor. 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.
The country becomes highly politicized during election campaigns, as millions of dollars are spent in propaganda. The political system is characterized by clientelism, which has corrupted it throughout the years.
There are many political parties and interest groups and, new on the scene, civil organizations. The three major parties are the conservative Social Christian Reformist Party (Spanish: Partido Reformista Social Cristiano [PRSC]), in power 1966 - 78 and 1986 - 96; the social democratic Dominican Revolutionary Party (Spanish: Partido Revolucionario Dominicano [PRD]), in power in 1963, 1978 - 86, and 2000 - 04); and the increasingly conservative Dominican Liberation Party (Spanish: Partido de la Liberación Dominicana [PLD]), in power 1996 - 2000 and since 2004.
The presidential elections of 2008 were held on May 16, 2008, with incumbent Leonel Fernandez winning with 53% of the vote. 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 includes former Attorney General Guillermo Moreno from the Movement for Independence, Unity and Change (Movimiento Independencia, Unidad y Cambio [MIUCA]) and PRSC former presidential candidate and defector Eduardo Estrella obtained less than 1% of the vote.
See main article: Geography of the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic is situated on the eastern part of the second-largest island in the Greater Antilles, Hispaniola. It shares the island roughly at a 2:1 ratio with Haiti. The whole country measures an area of 48,442 km² (or 48,730 km², or 48,921 km²) making it the second largest country in the Antilles, after Cuba. The country's capital and greatest metropolitan area, Santo Domingo, is located on the southern coast.
There are many small offshore islands and cays that are part of the Dominican territory. The two largest islands near shore are Saona, in the southeast, and Beata, in the southwest. To the north, at a distance between 100 and 200 km, 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.
The country's mainland 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 found the four highest peaks in the West Indies: Pico Duarte (3,098 m or 10,164 ft above sea level), La Pelona (3,094m), La Rucilla (3,049m) and Pico Yaque (2,760m).
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 city of Santiago and most of the farming areas in the nation. Rather less productive is the semi-arid San Juan Valley, south of the Central Cordillera. Still more arid is the Neiba Valley, tucked between the Sierra de Neiba and the Sierra de Bahoruco. Much of the land in 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.
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 km 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 dry region in Azua Province.
A few other small coastal plains are in 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.
There are many lakes and coastal lagoons. The largest lake is Enriquillo, a saline lake at 40 m below sea level, the lowest point in the West Indies. Other important lakes are Laguna de Rincón or Cabral, with freshwater, and Laguna de Oviedo, a lagoon with brackish water.
The country is a tropical, maritime nation. Wet season is from May to November, with periodic hurricanes between June and November. Most rain falls in the northern and eastern regions. The average rainfall is 1346 mm, with extremes of 2500 mm in the northeast and 500 mm in the west. The main annual temperature ranges from 21 °C in the mountainous regions to 25 °C on the plains and the coast. The average temperature in Santo Domingo in January is 25 °C, and it is 30 °C in July. Nonetheless, the highest mountaintops are covered in pine forests and have temperatures that can go several degrees below freezing during winter nights.
Bajos de Haina, 12miles west of Santo Domingo, was included on the Blacksmith Institute's list of the world's 10 most polluted places, released in October 2006, due to lead poisoning by a battery recycling smelter closed in 1999. Cleanup of the site began in 2008, but children continue to be born with high lead levels, causing learning disabilities, impaired physical growth and kidney damage. 
Some of the important symbols include 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 alternate interpretation is that blue represents the ideals of progress and liberty, whereas white symbolizes peace and unity amongst Dominicans. In the center of the cross is the Dominican coat of arms, in the same colors as the national flag.
For most of its history (up to independence) the colony was known by the name of its present capital, Santo Domingo. At present, the Dominican Republic is one of the few countries in the world with a demonym–based name (as the Czech Republic, et al.). For example, the French Republic is generally known as France, but the Dominican Republic has no such equivalent – although the name "Quisqueya" is used sometimes.
See also: Economy of the Dominican Republic.
See also: Dominican Peso.
The Dominican Republic has the largest or second largest economy in Central America and the Caribbean. It is a lower middle-income developing country, with a 2007 GDP per capita of $9,208, in PPP terms, which is relatively high in Latin America. In the trimester of January–March 2007 it experienced an exceptional growth of 9.1% in its GDP, which was actually below the previous year's 10.9% in the same period. Growth was led by imports, followed by exports, with finance and foreign investment the next largest factors.
The D.R. is primarily dependent on natural resources and government services. Although the service sector has recently overtaken agriculture as the leading employer of Dominicans (due principally to growth in tourism and Free Trade Zones), agriculture remains the most important sector in terms of domestic consumption and is in second place, behind mining, in terms of export earnings. The service sector in general has experienced growth in recent years, as has construction. Free Trade Zone earnings and tourism are the fastest-growing export sectors. Real estate tourism alone accounted for $1.5 billion in earnings for 2007. Remittances from Dominicans living abroad amounted to nearly $3.2 billion in 2007. Economic growth takes place in spite of a chronic energy shortage, which causes frequent blackouts and very high prices. Despite a widening merchandise trade deficit, tourism earnings and remittances have helped build foreign exchange reserves. The Dominican Republic is current on foreign private debt.
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. This recession followed the collapse of the second–largest commercial bank in the country, Baninter, linked to a major incident of fraud valued at $3.5 billion, during the administration of President Hipólito Mejía (2000-2004). The Baninter fraud had a devastating effect on the Dominican economy, with GDP dropping by 1% in 2003 while inflation ballooned by over 27%. All defendants, including the star of the trial, Ramon Baez Figueroa, were found guilty and convicted; one subpoena failed to be delivered upon the United States denial of extradition.
According to the 2005 Annual Report of the United Nations Subcommittee on Human Development in the Dominican Republic, the country is ranked #71 in the world for resource availability, #79 for human development, and #14 in the world for resource mismanagement. These statistics emphasize national government corruption, foreign economic interference in the country, and the rift between the rich and poor.
The Dominican peso (DOP, or RD$) is the national currency, although United States dollars (USD) and euros (EUR) are also accepted at most tourist sites. The U.S. dollar is implicated in almost all commercial transactions of the Dominican Republic; such dollarization is common in high inflation economies. The peso was worth the same as the USD until the 1980s, but has depreciated. The exchange rate in 1993 was 14.00 pesos per USD and 16.00 pesos in 2000, but it jumped to 53.00 pesos per USD in 2003. In 2004, the exchange rate was back down to around 31.00 pesos per USD. As of February 2009 the exchange rate was 1 DOP = 0.0281 USD, i.e. 35.65 DOP per USD; 1 DOP = 0.022 euros (EUR, or €); and 1 DOP = 2.74 Japanese yen (JPY, or ¥).
Tourism is fueling the Dominican Republic's economic growth. For example, the contribution of travel and tourism to employment is expected to rise from 550,000 jobs in 2008 — 14.4% of total employment or 1 in every 7 jobs — to 743,000 jobs — 14.2% of total employment or 1 in every 7.1 jobs by 2018. With the construction of projects like Cap Cana, San Souci Port in Santo Domingo, and Moon Palace Resort in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic expects increased tourism activity in the upcoming year. Ecotourism has been a topic increasingly important in the nation, with towns like Jarabacoa and neighboring Constanza, and locations like the Pico Duarte, Bahia de Las Aguilas and others becoming more significant in attempts to increase direct benefits from tourism.
See main article: Demographics of the Dominican Republic.
The population of the Dominican Republic in July of 2008 was estimated by the United Nations at 9,507,133, which placed it number 82 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 5% of the population was over 65 years of age, while 35% of the population was under 15 years of age. There were 103 males for every 100 females in the country in 2007. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2006–2008 is 1.495%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 10,121,000.
It was estimated by the Dominican government that the population density in 2007 was 192 per km² (498 per sq mi), and 63% of the population lived in urban areas. 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 3,014,000 in 2007. Other important cities are Santiago de los Caballeros (pop. 756,098), La Romana (pop. 250,000), San Pedro de Macorís, San Francisco de Macorís, Puerto Plata, and La Vega. Per the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 2.3%.
The ethnic composition of the Dominican population is 73% mixed race, 16% White and 11% Black. The mixed population is a racial mixture of black, white, and to an extent, Taíno heritage. The country's population includes a large Haitian minority. A smaller, yet significant presence of East Asians (primarily ethnic Chinese and Japanese) can be found throughout the population. Other ethnic groups in the country include Middle Easterners — primarily Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians — Spaniards, Germans, Italians, Portuguese, Irish, Corsicans, French, and Americans.
As elsewhere in the Spanish Empire, the Spanish colony of Hispaniola employed a social system known as casta, wherein Peninsulares (Spaniards born in Spain) occupied the highest echelon. These were followed, in descending order of status, by: criollos, castizos, mestizos, mulattoes, Indians, zambos, and black slaves.  The stigma of this stratification persisted, reaching its culmination in the Trujillo regime, as the dictator used racial persecution and nationalistic fervor against Haitians. 
According to a study by the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, about 90% of the contemporary Dominican population has African ancestry. However, most Dominicans do not self-identify as black, in contrast to people of African ancestry in other countries. A variety of terms are used to represent a range of skintones, such as morena (brown), canela (red/brown) ["cinnamon"], india (Indian), blanca oscura (dark white), and trigueño (literally "wheat colored", which is the english equivalent of olive skin), among others.
Many have claimed that this represents a reluctance to self-identify with African descent and the culture of the freed slaves. According to Dr. Miguel Anibal Perdomo, professor of Dominican Identity and Literature at Hunter College in New York City, "There was a sense of 'deculturación' among the African slaves of Hispaniola. [There was] an attempt to erase any vestiges of African culture from the Dominican Republic. We were, in some way, brainwashed and we've become westernized."
However, this view is not universal, as many also claim that Dominican culture is simply different and rejects the racial categorizations of other regions. Ramona Hernández, director of the Dominican Studies Institute at City College of New York asserts that the terms were originally a defense against racism: "During the Trujillo regime, people who were dark skinned were rejected, so they created their own mechanism to fight it." She went on to explain, "When you ask, 'What are you?' they don't give you the answer you want ... saying we don't want to deal with our blackness is simply what you want to hear." The Dominican Republic is not unique in this respect, either. In a 1976 census survey conducted in Brazil, respondents described their skin color in 136 distinct terms. 
See main article: Religion in the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic is 95.2% Christian, including 88.6% Roman Catholic and 4.2% Protestant. Recent but small scale immigration, as well as proselytizing, has brought other religions, with the following shares of the population: Spiritist: 2.2%, Buddhist: 0.10%, Bahá'í: 0.1%, Islam: 0.02%, Judaism: 0.01%, and Chinese Folk Religion: 0.1%.
Roman Catholicism was introduced by Columbus and Spanish missionaries. Religion wasn’t really the foundation of their entire society, as it was in other parts of the world at the time, and most of the population didn’t attend church on a regular basis. Nonetheless, most of the education in the country was based upon the Catholic religion, as the Bible was required in the curricula of all public schools. Children would use religious–based dialogue when greeting a relative or parent. For example: a child would say "Bless me, mother", and the mother would reply "May God bless you".
The nation has two patroness saints: Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia (Our Lady Of High Grace) is the patroness of the Dominican people, and Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes (Our Lady Of Mercy) is the patroness of the Dominican Republic.
The Catholic Church began to lose popularity in the late 1800s. This was due to a lack of funding, of priests, and of support programs. During the same time, the Protestant evangelical movement began to gain support. Religious tension between Catholics and Protestants in the country has been rare.
There has always been religious freedom throughout the entire country. Not until the 1950s were restrictions placed upon churches by Trujillo. Letters of protest were sent against the mass arrests of government adversaries. Trujillo began a campaign against the church and planned to arrest priests and bishops who preached against the government. This campaign ended before it was even put into place, with his assassination.
Judaism appeared in the Dominican Republic in the late 1930s. 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.
Primary education is officially free and compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 14, although those who live in isolated areas have limited access to schooling. Primary schooling is followed by a two–year intermediate school and a four–year secondary course, after which a diploma called the bachillerato (high school diploma) is awarded. Relatively few lower–income students succeed in reaching this level, due to financial hardships and limitation due to location. Most of the wealthier students attend private schools, which are frequently sponsored by religious institutions. Some public and private vocational education is available, particularly in the field of agriculture, but this too reaches only a tiny percentage of the population.
In 2007 the Dominican Republic had a birth rate of 22.91 per 1000, and a death rate of 5.32 per 1000. Dengue is endemic to the country and there are cases of malaria. There is currently a mission based in the United States to combat the AIDS rate in the Dominican Republic.
On the 18 December 2008, the William J. Clinton Foundation released a list of all contributors. It included COPRESIDA-Secretariado Tecnico, a Dominican Republic government agency formed to fight AIDS, which gave between US$10-25 million to the Foundation.
The Dominican Republic has become a trans-shipment point for Colombian drugs destined to Europe as well as the United States and Canada.  Money laundering via the Dominican Republic is favored by Colombian drug cartels for the ease of illicit financial transactions. In 2004 it was estimated that 8% of all cocaine smuggled into the United States had come through the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic responded with increased efforts to seize drug shipments, arrest and extradite those involved, and combat money-laundering. A 1995 report stated that social pressures and poverty — which was then increasing — had led to a rise in prostitution. Though prostitution is legal and the age of consent is 18, child prostitution is a growing phenomenon in impoverished areas. In an environment where young girls are often denied employment opportunities offered to boys, prostitution frequently becomes a source of supplementary income. UNICEF estimated in 1994 that at least 25,000 children were involved in the Dominican sex trade, 63% of that figure being girls.
The Haitian occupation government (1822-1844) invited free blacks and fugitives from the United States to settle on the island. In the late 1800s and early 1900s large groups immigrated to the country from Venezuela and Puerto Rico; two of the country's former presidents and life long political rivals, Juan Bosch and Joaquín Balaguer, had Puerto Rican parents. 
In the 20th century, many Chinese, Arabs (primarily from Lebanon and Syria), Japanese and to a lesser degree Koreans settled in the country, working as agricultural laborers and merchants. Waves of Chinese immigrants, the latter ones fleeing the Chinese Communist People's Liberation Army (PLA), arrived and worked in mines and building railroads. The current Chinese Dominican population totals 15,000. The Arab community is also rising at an increasing rate. Estimates are at 3,400. Japanese immigrants, who mostly work in the business districts and markets, are at an estimate of 1,900 living in the country. The Korean presence is minor but evident at a population of 500.
In addition, there are descendants of immigrants who came from other Caribbean islands, including St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Antigua, St. Vincent, Montserrat, Tortola, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Martinique, and Guadeloupe. They worked on sugarcane plantations and docks and settled mainly in the cities of San Pedro de Macoris and Puerto Plata. They are believed to number 28,000. Before and during World War II 800 Jewish refugees moved to the Dominican Republic, and many of their descendants live in the town of Sosúa. Nationwide, there are an estimated 100 Jews left. Immigration from Europe and the United States is at an all time high. There are 88,000 Spaniards, 82,000 Americans (in 1999), 40,000 Italians, 1,900 French, 1,400 Britons, and 800 Germans.
Haiti is much poorer than the Dominican Republic. In 2003, 80% of all Haitians were poor and 60% were illiterate; in 2002, over two-thirds of the labor force lacked formal jobs. The country's per capita GDP (PPP) was $1,400 in 2008, or less than one-sixth of the Dominican figure.  As a result, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have migrated to the Dominican Republic, with some estimates speaking of 800,000 Haitians in the country, while some put the Haitian–born population as high as one million. They usually work at low-paying and unskilled labor jobs, including construction work, household cleaning, and in sugar plantations. Working conditions on these sugar plantations have caused controversy, including allegations that they border on slavery.
Moreover, as their parents are denied Dominican nationality because they are deemed to be transient residents, due to their illegal or undocumented status; and as Haiti also denies them nationality (Haiti's Constitution states in Title II, Article 11 that "Any person born of a Haitian father or Haitian mother who are themselves native-born Haitians and have never renounced their nationality possesses Haitian nationality at the time of birth.") because of lack of proper documents or witnesses, children of illegal Haitian immigrants are often stateless and denied services, such as basic health care.    There are also frequent physical attacks on, and roundups of adult immigrants.
A large number of Haitian women, often arriving with several health problems, cross the border to Dominican soil during their last weeks of pregnancy to obtain much-needed 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.
In 2005 Dominican President Leonel Fernández criticized collective expulsions of Haitians as having taken place "in an abusive and inhuman way." After a UN delegation issued a preliminary report stating that it found a profound problem of racism and discrimination against people of Haitian origins, Dominican Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso issued a formal statement denouncing it and 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..."
See main article: Dominican American.
See main article: Dominican immigration to Puerto Rico. The Dominican Republic has experienced three distinct waves of emigration in the second half of the twentieth century. The first period began in 1961, when a coalition of high-ranking Dominicans, with assistance from the CIA, assassinated General Rafael Trujillo, the nation's military dictator. In the wake of his death, fear of retaliation by Trujillo's allies, and political uncertainty in general, spurred migration from the island. In 1965, the United States began a military occupation of the Dominican Republic and eased travel restrictions, making it easier for Dominicans to obtain American visas. 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. In the early 1980s, underemployment, inflation, and the rise in value of the dollar all contributed to a third wave of emigration from the island nation. Today, emigration from the Dominican Republic remains high, facilitated by the social networks of now-established Dominican communities in the United States.
See main article: Culture of the Dominican Republic.
See main article: Dominican Spanish. The culture of the Dominican Republic, like its Caribbean neighbors, is a blend of the cultures of the European colonists, African slaves, and Taíno natives. Spanish, also known as Castellano (Castilian) is the official language. Other languages, among them English, French, German, Italian, and Chinese are also spoken to varying degrees. European, African and Taíno cultural elements are most prominent in food, family structure, religion and music. Many Arawak/Taíno names and words are used in daily conversation and for many foods native to the DR.
See main article: Cuisine of the Dominican Republic. Dominican cuisine is predominantly made up of a combination of Spanish, Taíno, and African influences over the last few centuries. The typical cuisine is quite similar to what can be found in other Latin American countries, but many of the names of dishes are different. One breakfast dish consists of eggs and mangú (mashed, boiled plantain). For heartier versions, these are accompanied by deep-fried meat (typically Dominican salami) and/or cheese. Similarly to Spain, lunch is generally the largest and most important meal of the day. Lunch usually consists of rice, some type of meat (chicken, beef, pork, or fish), beans, and a side portion of salad. "La Bandera" (literally, The Flag), the most popular lunch dish, consists of meat and red beans on white rice.
Dominican cuisine usually accommodates all the food groups, incorporating meat or seafood; rice, potatoes, or plantains; and is accompanied by some other type of vegetable or salad. However, meals usually heavily favor starches and meats over dairy products and vegetables. Many dishes are made with sofrito, which is a mix of local herbs and spices sautéed to bring out all of the 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 dishes include chicharrón, yuca, casabe, and pastelitos (empanadas), batata, pasteles en hoja, (ground-roots pockets) chimichurris, plátanos maduros (ripe plantain), and tostones.
Some treats Dominicans enjoy are arroz con dulce (or arroz con leche), bizcocho dominicano (lit. Dominican cake), habichuelas con dulce (sweet creamed beans), flan, frío frío (snow cones), dulce de leche, and caña (sugarcane).
See main article: Music of the Dominican Republic.
Musically, the Dominican Republic is known for the creation of the musical style called merengue, a type of lively, fast-paced rhythm and dance music consisting of a tempo of about 120 to 160 beats per minute (it varies wildly) based on musical elements like drums, brass, and chorded instruments, as well as some elements unique to the music style of the DR. It includes the use of the tambora (Dominican drum), accordion, and güira. Its syncopated beats use Latin percussion, brass instruments, bass, and piano or keyboard. Well-known merengue singers include singer/songwriter Juan Luis Guerra, Fernando Villalona, Eddy Herrera, Sergio Vargas, Toño Rosario, Johnny Ventura, and Milly Quezada. Merengue became popular in the United States, mostly on the East Coast, during the 1980s and 90s, when many Dominican artists, among them Victor Roque y La Gran Manzana, Henry Hierro, Zacarias Ferraira, Aventura, Milly, and Jocelyn Y Los Vecinos, residing in the U.S. (particularly New York) started performing in the Latin club scene and gained radio airplay. 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 have contributed to Dominican music's overall growth in popularity. 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", or blues 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.
Particularly among the young, a genre that has been growing in popularity in recent years in the Dominican Republic is Dominican rap. Also known as Rap del Patio ("yard rap") it is rap music created by Dominican crews and solo artists. Originating in the early 2000s with crews such as Charles Family, successful rappers such as Lapiz Conciente, Vakero, Toxic Crow, and R-1 emerged. The youth have embraced the music, sometimes over merengue, merengue típico, bachata, as well as salsa, and, most recently, reggaeton. It must be noted that Dominican rap differs from reggaeton in the fact that Dominican rap does not use the traditional Dem Bow rhythm frequently used in reggaeton, instead using more hip hop-influenced beats. As well, Dominican rap focuses on urban themes such as money, women, and poverty, similarly to American rap.
See main article: Sports in the Dominican Republic. Baseball is by far the most popular sport in the Dominican Republic today. After the United States, the Dominican Republic has the second-highest number of baseball players in Major League Baseball (MLB). Some of the Dominican players have been regarded as among the best in the game. Historically, the Dominican Republic has been linked to MLB since Ozzie Virgil, Sr. became the first Dominican to play in the league.
Olympic gold medalist and world champion over 400 m hurdles Félix Sánchez hails from the Dominican Republic, as does current defensive end for the San Diego Chargers (National Football League [NFL]), Luis Castillo. Castillo was the cover athlete for the Spanish language version of Madden NFL 08.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) also has had players from the Dominican Republic. Boxing is one of the more important sports after baseball, and the country has produced scores of world-class fighters and world champions.
|January 1||New Year's Day||Non-working day.|
|January 6||Catholic day of the Epiphany||Movable.|
|January 21||Dia de la Altagracia||Non-working day. Patroness Day (Catholic).|
|January 26||Duarte's Day||Movable. Founding Father.|
|February 27||Independence Day||Non-working day. National Day.|
|(Variable date)||Holy Week||Working days, except Good Friday.|
A Catholic holiday.
|May 1||Labour Day||Movable.|
|(Variable date)||Catholic Corpus Christi||Non-working day. A Thursday in May or June |
(60 days after Easter Sunday).
|August 16||Restoration Day||Non-working day.|
|September 24||Virgen de las Mercedes||Non-working day. A Patroness Day (Catholic)|
|November 6||Constitution Day||Movable.|
|December 25||Christmas Day||Non-working day. Birth of Jesus Christ|
See main article: Military of the Dominican Republic.
Congress authorizes a combined military force of 44,000 active duty personnel. Actual active duty strength is approximately 32,000. However, approximately 50% of those are used for non-military activities such as security providers for government-owned non-military facilities, highway toll stations, prisons, forestry work, state enterprises, and private businesses. The Commander in Chief of the military is the President. The principal missions are to defend the nation and protect the territorial integrity of the country. The army, larger than the other services combined with approximately 20,000 active duty personnel, consists of six infantry brigades, a combat support brigade, 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 near Puerto Plata. The navy operates two major naval bases, one in Santo Domingo and one in Las Calderas on the southwestern coast, and maintains 12 operational vessels. In the Caribbean, only Cuba has a larger military force.
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). Additionally, the armed forces provide 75% of personnel to the National Investigations Directorate (DNI) and the Counter-Drug Directorate (DNCD).
The Dominican National Police force contains 32,000 agents. The police are not part of the Dominican armed forces, but share some overlapping security functions. Sixty-three percent of the force serve in areas outside traditional police functions, similar to the situation of their military counterparts.
See main article: Transportation in the Dominican Republic.
See also: List of airports in the Dominican Republic. There are two transportation services in the Dominican Republic: one controlled by the government, through the Oficina Técnica de Transito Terrestre (O.T.T.T.) 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, for very inexpensive prices. In December 2006, the price was DOP$5.00 (US$0.15), and air-conditioned bus rides were priced at DOP$10 (US$0.30). It should be noted that most OMSA buses are currently in very poor condition, and OMSA has been criticized for its inability to fully meet the people's needs.
FENATRANO and CONATRA offer their services with voladoras (vans) or conchos (cars), which have routes in most parts of the cities. These cars have roofs painted in yellow or green in order to identify them. The cars have scheduled days to work, depending on the color of the roof, and have been described as unsafe.
See main article: Communications in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic's commercial radio stations and television stations are in the process of transferring to the digital spectrum via HD Radio and HDTV.
The reported speeds are from 256 kbit/s / 128 kbit/s for residential services, up to 4 MB / 2 MB for commercial and residential service. (Each set of numbers denotes downstream/upstream speed; i.e. to the user/from the user.)
The Dominican Republic has a well–developed telecommunications infrastructure, with extensive mobile phone services and landline services. The telecommunications regulator in the country is INDOTEL, Instituto Dominicano de Telecomunicaciones. The Dominican Republic offers cable Internet and DSL in most parts of the country, and many Internet service providers offer 3G wireless internet service. Projects to extend Wi-Fi hot spots have been made in Santo Domingo.
On February 1, 2007, Verizon changed the names of its wireless services to Claro and CODETEL. The company has been owned since 2006 by Carlos Slim Helú's América Móvil. Claro is now the official name of the Wireless Division, and CODETEL (the original Compañia Dominicana de Teléfonos) is the updated name for the Verizon Dominicana landline and broadband provider.
See main article: Highways and Routes in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic has five major highways, which take travelers to every important town in the country. The three major highways are Autopista Duarte, Autopista del Este, and Autopista del Sur, which go to the north, east, and western side of the country. A new, 106–kilometer toll road that connects Santo Domingo with the country’s northeastern peninsula is now operating. Travelers may now arrive in the Samana Peninsula in less than two hours. Most routes interconnecting small towns in the country are unpaved, but are improving.
See main article: Port of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Sans Souci. The Port of Santo Domingo, with its location in the Caribbean, is well suited for flexible itinerary planning and has excellent support, road, and airport infrastructure within the Santo Domingo region, which facilitate access and transfers. The port is suitable for both turnaround and transit calls.
Electrical services have been a headache for the population, as well as the business and other areas for more than 40 years. Due to mismanagement from the government, no administration has been able to cope with this problem. In 1998, three regional electricity distribution systems were privatized via sale of 50% of shares to foreign operators; in an unexpected decision, the Mejía administration repurchased all foreign-owned shares in two of these systems in late 2003. The third, serving the eastern provinces, is operated by U.S. concerns and is 50% U.S.-owned. Industry experts estimated distribution losses for 2006 surpassed 40%, primarily due to low collection rates, theft, and corruption. At the close of 2006, the government had exceeded its budget for electricity subsidies, spending close to U.S. $650 million.
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 country has access to electricity. Still, in 2007 some areas have outages lasting as long as 20 hours a day. Tourist areas tend to have more reliable power, as do business, travel, healthcare, and vital infrastructure. The situation improved in 2006, with 200 circuits (40% of the total) providing permanent electricity, as 85% of electric demand overall was met and blackouts were reduced from 6.3 hours per day to 3.7. Concentrated efforts were announced to increase efficiency of delivery to places where the collection rate reached 70%. The electricity sector is highly politicized. Debts, including government debt, amount to more than U.S. $500 million. Some generating companies are undercapitalized and at times unable to purchase adequate fuel supplies.
See main article: List of Dominican Republic-related topics.
. Sean Harvey. The Rough Guide to The Dominican Republic. Rough Guides. January. 2006. 376–7. 1-84353-497-5.
. Sean Harvey. The Rough Guide to The Dominican Republic. Rough Guides. January. 2006. 375. 1-84353-497-5.
. Sean Harvey. The Rough Guide to The Dominican Republic. Rough Guides. January. 2006. 378. 1-84353-497-5.
. Sean Harvey. The Rough Guide to The Dominican Republic. Rough Guides. January. 2006. 59. 1-84353-497-5.