The Dominican Republic Became an Independent Country in 1924
Dominican Republic facts show that the history of this small Caribbean country is quite complex. Its capital Santo Domingo was established by the Spanish colonists in 1496. Santo Domingo remained Spanish until 1821, when the former Lieutenant-Governor of the colony, José Núñez de Cáceres, declared its independence (independence known as ephemeral independence in historical textbooks). But the first period of independence of the Dominican Republic didn’t last long – only two months, in fact; then the country was annexed to Haiti.
Haiti ruled the Dominican Republic for over 20 years until Dominicans fought for, and won, their independence in 1844. Their first constitution, modelled after the US’s, was created in November 1844. A very troubled period followed, made even more demanding by continuous invasions of Haiti, so in 1861 the Dominican rulers were forced to sign a pact with Spain, turning their country into a Spanish colony again. After that, the US occupied the Dominican Republic during World War I, and the country was liberated a few years later, organizing its first elections in 1924 when the Dominican Republic finally became an independent country.
The Dominican Republic Was the First Permanent European Settlement in the Americas
The Taíno people were inhabitants of the Dominican Republic ever since the 7th century, but when Europeans discovered (and started conquering) the New World at the end of the 15th century, the island became the first European settlement in the newly discovered lands. Bartholomew Columbus, Christopher Columbus’ brother, built the city of Santo Domingo in 1496, and it became the first seat of Spanish rule in America. Various plantations were established in the city, which also served as the primary base for further Spanish colonization of America.
The Dominican Republic is the Second-Largest Caribbean Nation after Cuba
Dominican Republic facts reveal interesting information about the island on which the Dominican Republic is located. Hispaniola, as the second largest Caribbean island after Cuba is named, is home to two countries: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. But Haiti’s land area is half that of the Dominican Republic, making the Dominican Republic the second largest Caribbean nation by area (18,700 square miles), surpassed only by Cuba with 42,000 square miles of area. Various small islands, such as Saona and Beata, near the main island are also a part of the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic Is the Second Most Populous Country in the Caribbean
Dominican Republic facts also reveal that the country is not only the second largest in the Caribbean, but also the second most populous, again after Cuba. Its official population, according to the 2010 census, is just shy of 9.5 million, but projections using its population growth rate show that in 2015, the population might already be very close to 11 million. Currently, the Dominican Republic is the 84th most populous country in the world. Santo Domingo is the most populous city of the Dominican Republic with almost 3,000,000 inhabitants, followed by Santiago de los Caballeros with 750,000 inhabitants and La Romana with 215,000 inhabitants.
Most of the Population of the Dominican Republic Is Roman Catholic
According to the 2010 census, 69% of Dominicans were Roman Catholic, 18% Protestant, 2% followed other religions and almost 11% were of no religion. The Dominican Republic was solely Roman Catholic in the beginning, but over the centuries, the religion lost some of its influence. This was especially evident during the late 19th century, when the lack of funding and priests caused the Protestant evangelical movement to increase in power. The Dominican Republic also has a small center of Jewish population – the city of Sosúa, a small city of 70,000 inhabitants in the north of the island.
The Dominican Republic Is the 9th Largest Economy in Latin America
Dominican Republic facts reveal that the Dominican Republic boasts the ninth largest economy in Latin America and the largest economy in the regions of the Caribbean and Central America. The Dominican Republic was best known for agriculture and mining in the past, but the services sector now represents the dominant part of the economy. The economic progress of this small Caribbean country is mostly due to its advanced telecommunication system and good transportation infrastructure, but there are still many problems that hinder its economy, namely a high unemployment rate, corruption and problems with electricity.
The Dominican Republic is a Democratic Republic with a Multi-Party System
Dominican Republic facts show that the modern Dominican Republic has become a fairly stable democracy with three main branches of power: executive, legislative and judicial. The executive branch is led by the President of the Dominican Republic (Danilo Medina as of September 2015), the legislative is represented by the Congress, consisting of 32 senators in the upper house and 190 deputies in its lower house, known as the Chamber of Deputies, and the judicial system is represented by the Supreme Court of Justice. Congressional and municipal elections are held every four years, with multiple parties competing for public votes, and have generally been considered democratic, free and fair ever since 1996 by reports from international observers.
The Dominican Republic Has a Mix of Many Different Cultures
Dominican Republic facts that deal with the history of this island country in the Caribbean clearly show that its population is a mixture of descendants of Taíno natives, African slaves and Spanish colonists. Thus it is not surprising to learn that the culture of the Dominican Republic is a mixture of Taíno, African and European elements, which is most apparent in the religion, architecture, music and food of the Dominican Republic. In recent years, fashion has also become an important part of the culture, with the Dominican Republic’s Fashion Week becoming one of the most important fashion events in Latin America.
Spanish Is the Most Spoken Language in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is one of many countries in the world where people speak Spanish. Dominicans of course have their own dialect, called Dominican Spanish, which closely resembles the Spanish spoken in the Canary Islands. Dominican schools are based on the Spanish educational model, with English and French being the dominant foreign languages taught. Some 98% of the Dominican population speaks Spanish, 1% French, 0.5% English and 0.1% Arabic, but English language is becoming more and more popular due to the country opening up to the influences of modern US pop culture.
Abortion Is Illegal in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is one of those countries in the world which still consider abortion illegal. Dominican abortion policy is extremely strict as it doesn’t allow exceptions in cases such as rape, incest or serious health problems of pregnant women. Serious health problems that could possibly dissuade women from giving birth to children include dengue, malaria and HIV, although HIV prevalence in the Dominican Republic is quite low compared to the rest of the Caribbean – only about 0.7% of population is infected, which means about 60,000 individuals.
The Dominican Republic Was Known as Santo Domingo for Most of Its History
The Dominican Republic has not been known by its current name for most of its history; instead, it was known as Santo Domingo until independence, and even beyond that in the English speaking world. Santo Domingo is the name of its capital and the first colony that was established by Europeans in the 15th century, and also the name of the patron saint, Saint Dominic. In English, Santo Domingo was used instead of the Dominican Republic up until the early 20th century. It is interesting to note that neither of the terms “The Dominican Republic” or “Santo Domingo” appear in the national anthem of the country. A poetic term deriving from the language of native Taino Indians is used instead – Quisqueyanos, meaning “Mother of All Lands”.
The Dominican Republic Enjoys an Average Temperature of 77 °F
According to Dominican Republic facts, the climate of this island country is tropical, similar to that of other Caribbean countries. The average annual temperature is 77 °F – around 82 °F near sea level and around 64 °F at higher elevations. The coldest months of the year are January and February, but they are still much warmer than the beginning of the year in most parts of the world. As with most tropical countries, the Dominican Republic has a dry season and a rainy season.
The Dominican Republic is occasionally also hit by hurricanes (usually between August and October), but not nearly as often as the US. The last category 5 hurricane hit the Dominican Republic in 1979…
The Dominican Republic Is One of the Most Popular Tourist Destinations in the World
Dominican Republic facts show that the Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean, so it is not surprising that tourism is the basis for the country’s rapid economic growth in recent decades. Beaches, big tourist complexes, golf courses and ecotourism attract the most tourists, but traditional Dominican architecture and Merengue music also bring in a lot of curious visitors. In the beginning of the 21st century, the Dominican Republic offered around 60,000 hotel rooms with over 140,000 hotel beds, which hosted more than 3 million tourists annually. Since then, the number of visitors has only been increasing, making the Dominican Republic one of the biggest tourist attractions in this part of the world…
Agriculture Is Another Important Industry in the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic facts reveal that almost one third of the total Dominican land area is suitable for farming, leading to one-sixth of the total labor force working in farming and producing around 11% of the country’s GDP. Dominican agriculture would most likely be even more widespread nowadays if it weren’t for the unfortunate natural disasters that hit the country during the 1970s and 1980s (droughts and hurricanes).
The most important Dominican crop is sugarcane, with more than half of total production owned by the state (The State Sugar Council), followed by coffee, cocoa and tobacco – all of these products are grown mostly for export. And if you wondered whether Cuba was the only country in the world known for its cigars – it is not, as the Dominican Republic also produces and exports cigars that are adored in various parts of the world.
Dominicans Will Offer You a Traditional Lunch, Called “The Flag”
Similarly to Dominican culture, Dominican food is also an exciting mixture of native Taíno, African and Spanish elements. Most of the dishes found in Dominican cuisine can be found in other parts of Latin America too, but Dominicans have their own names for most such dishes. One of the most popular lunch dishes in the Dominican Republic is a dish simply called “The Flag” (La Bandera in Spanish), which offers 3 basic ingredients: meat, red beans and white rice – all in big quantities, since lunch is, as in Spain, the most important meal of the day in the Dominican Republic.
Baseball Is the Most Popular Sport in the Dominican Republic
If you ever thought that baseball was only big in the US, you were mistaken! It is very popular in many other countries of the world too, including the Dominican Republic, where it is by far the most popular sport. The Dominican baseball league is of course not nearly as big as the MLB – it has only six teams, which play from October to January, but the Dominican Republic supplies the MLB with more players than any other country (after the US, of course). Among dozens of famous Dominican players are names such as Juan Marichal, Pedro Martinez and Sammy Sosa.
Other popular sports in the Dominican Republic are volleyball, basketball and martial arts such as boxing, taekwondo and judo.
The Dominican Republic’s Murder Rate Was 22.1 per 100,000 Population in 2012
A total of 2,268 murders occurred in the Dominican Republic in 2012, meaning that the country has a murder rate of 22.1 per 100,000 people, which puts Dominican Republic into the worst 20 countries in the world for murders (for comparison: the US murder rate per 100,000 population is 111th in the world at 4.7).
The reasons for the high murder rate in the Dominican Republic are complex and many, but one of the most important probably lies in drug smuggling. The Dominican Republic has become an important mid-point for drugs travelling from South America to the USA and Europe. Another reason is the fairly light treatment of criminals; for example, five teenagers intentionally and brutally killed seven taxi drivers in 2010, but were sentenced to only 3-5 years in prison, causing much unrest among the public.
The Dominican Republic’s Flag Represents Blood and God
The Dominican flag has a large white cross which divides it into four equal quarters. Opposite quarters are matched in color – two are red, representing the blood shed by those who liberated the country, and two are blue, representing God’s protection over the nation. What about the write cross that divides the flag? According to one interpretation, it symbolizes the struggle of liberators to guarantee freedom for future generations, and according to a different interpretation, it symbolizes peace and unity among Dominicans.
The national coat of arms features the same three colors as the flag – blue, red and white, and a shield with three symbols. First is the Bible, representing the truth and the light of God, second is a gold cross, representing the redemption from slavery, and third are arrows, symbolizing the proud and noble soldiers of the country.
The Dominican Republic Has Featured in Jurassic Park and The Godfather Part II
Steven Spielberg’s 1993 megahit Jurassic Park of course focuses on dinosaurs, but it also found time to show one of the most cherished natural treasures from the past – an amber stone with a prehistoric mosquito preserved inside, which is owned by the Amber Museum in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic.
What about Coppola’s timeless masterpiece The Godfather? Some scenes from the second Godfather movie from 1974 were filmed in the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo (scenes that take place in Cuba in the movie, since filming a US movie in Cuba was impossible at the time).
Many US First Ladies Have Worn Clothes Made by a Dominican Fashion Designer
Although Oscar de la Renta, the most famous Dominican fashion designer, died in October 2014, his legacy has not been forgotten and probably never will be. And how could it be when the man dressed the wives of such important men as John F. Kennedy (the 35th President of the United States), Bill Clinton (the 42nd President of the United States) and George W. Bush (the 43rd President of United States). No wonder that de la Renta served as an unofficial ambassador of the Dominican Republic, bringing his home country closer to the US where he lived and worked for most of his life.
Dominican Republic Facts — Facts about Dominican Republic Summary
The Dominican Republic is a country in the Caribbean; the second-largest of the Caribbean countries, right after Cuba. The Dominican Republic has a turbulent past, being a colony or an occupied territory of countries such as Spain, Haiti or the USA, but has developed greatly in the last few decades. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area, offering an exciting mix of European, African and local native cultures, and is an important exporter of crops such as sugarcane, coffee, cacao and tobacco. Despite its modernization in some areas, many parts of the country remain fairly dangerous places – the Dominican Republic is still among the countries with the most murders per 100,000 inhabitants.