Considered by some to be the first tourist to the Dominican Republic, Christopher Columbus landed on the North Coast of the island of Hispaniola in 1492, describing it as "a beautiful island paradise with high forested mountains and large river valleys". Luckily today's visitors can still enjoy much of what Columbus found over 500 years ago, and more.
Sugary white sand, swaying palm trees and impossibly turquoise waters are obvious draws when planning a trip to the Dominican, and the country has long been known for its budget-friendly, relaxing, all-inclusive resorts. However, if travelers look outside the box and venture beyond the resort they will find a people and culture bursting at the seams with color, dance, music and smiles.
If you step out onto the streets in the DR your mouth will be watering at the sizzle of freshly made empanadas, your hips will be moving to the sounds of merengue and bachata, and greetings of "Hola" and "Saludos" will meet you from every direction. Warm smiles, infectious laughs and the heat of the sun will melt away the last of your worries. The seduction's complete.
The Dominican covers an area of just under 49 000 sq/km, which is roughly twice the size of New Hampshire, meaning you can plant yourself just about anywhere in the country and still enjoy the many flavors and experiences that the country has to offer. In one day you can soak in the sun on the beach, swim through crystalline waterfalls of Los Saltos de Jimenoa, swing by Santiago and pick up a couple of cigars at The Centro Leon (once voted the maker of the second best cigar in the world by Cigar Aficianado), and party the night away to the pulsing beats of merengue at one of the many dance clubs. Perhaps that's why The Dominican was named the "Caribbean's Number One Destination" in 2006, a title given by the World Tourism Organization, and one that was owned by Puerto Rico for the last forty years.
The country offers a wide range of experiences and adventures that will suit almost any taste, whether spending a week on vacation, or a retirement's worth of relaxation. As well, residents are benefiting from continued development of infrastructure and medical services that is turning the Dominican Republic into a safe and secure place to call home.
- Capital City: Santo Domingo
- Boundaries: The country is located on the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. By land it borders Haiti to its west.
- Languages: Spanish
- Population: 9,365,818 (July 2007 est.)
- Diversity: European - 16%, African origin - 11%, Mixed - 73%
- Government: Representative Democracy
- Official Religions: Roman Catholic (95%); Other - Protestant, Seventh Day Adventist, Baptist, and Mormon
- Currency: Dominican Peso (current exchange: USD$0.028)
- Time Zone: Eastern Caribbean Time, GMT/UCT -4. The Dominican Republic does not observe Daylight Savings.
- Country Calling Code: 809
- Climate: Maritime semitropical. Average yearly temperature of 28 C-31 C (81 F-87 F). Susceptible to hurricanes from the beginning of June to the end of November.
- Gross National Income (GNI) per capita: $6310, ranked 68 out of 149 countries.
- Population using Improved Drinking Water Sources: 97% urban, 91% rural (2004)
- Independence: February 27, 1844 (from Haiti)
- Political Parties: Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC)
- Tourism: In 2006, tourist arrivals increased by 16 percent with 4.4 million guests choosing the Dominican Republic as a vacation spot. In addition, the number of visitors to the DR from the U.S. remains steady, at more than one million, for the second consecutive year.