Is located in the heart of the Caribbean, where the waters of the Atlantic Ocean bathes the Northern part of the island; to the East the Mona Passage separates us from Puerto Rico; on the West side we share the island with Haiti; and the warmth and the tonalities of blues of the Caribbean Sea shine at the South.

HISTORY

The island was inhabited by “Tainos” an indian ethnic group whose way of life was based on hunting, fishing and collecting fruits, developing a culture around these activities, until the moment in which what history calls “the encounter of two cultures”: the arrival of the Spaniards Conquistadors under the command of Admiral Christopher Columbus on December 5, 1942.

In his diary, the Admiral described this land as: “the most beautiful land that human eyes have ever seen”. He called it “La Hispaniola” and from here Spaniards went to conquer the so called “New World”.

The island became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas; and the oldest continuously inhabited city (Santo Domingo) and the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the “New World”.  After more than three hundred years of Spanish rule the Dominican people declared independence in November 1821.  During the colonial time three races cohabited: the indigenous or “Tainos”, Spaniards and Africans, whose miscegenation left considerable legacies to the national culture that over time acquired appropriate character.

Until the late XVI century the Hispaniola Island kept the interest of the Spanish Colony for the benefits generated by its natural resources and the system of sugar plantations.  The leader of the independence movement José Núñez de Cáceres, intended the Dominican nation to unite with the country of Gran Colombia. However, once no longer under Spanish rule, the newly independent Dominicans were forcefully annexed by their more powerful neighbor Haiti in February 1822.  After the 1844 victory in the Dominican War of Independence against Haitian rule, the country fell under Spanish colonial rule — the only nation in the hemisphere to do so after gaining its independence.  The crown was ousted permanently during the Dominican War of Restoration of 1865.

ECONOMY

The Dominican Republic has the ninth largest economy in Latin America and is the largest economy in the Caribbean and Central America region.  Though long know for agriculture and mining, the economy is now dominated by services.  Over the last two decades, the Dominican Republic has been standing out as one of the fastest growing economies.

TOURISM

The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean.  The year-round golf courses are among the top attractions in the country.  A geographically diverse nation, the “Pico Duarte” is the Caribbean’s tallest mountain peak and “Lago Enriquillo” is the largest lake and lowest point of elevation, located at below sea level.

The country is also the site of the first cathedral, castle, monastery and fortress built in all of the Americas, most of them located in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo, an area declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.  Music and Sport are of great importance in the Dominican culture, with Merengue and Bachata as the national dance and music while baseball as the favorite sport.

Ecotourism has also been a topic increasingly important in our country with towns like Jarabacoa and neighboring Constanza, plus destinations such as Barahona, Bahia de las Aguilas and others becoming more significant in efforts to increase sustainability.

Most visitors from other other countries are required to purchase a tourist card in order to enter the country, depending on the country of citizenship.

CURRENCY

The Dominican peso (DOP, or RD$) is the national currency, with the United States dollar (USD), the Canadian dollar (CAD), and euros (EUR) also accepted at most tourist sites.

GASTRONOMY

Dominican cuisine is predominantly Spanish, Taíno, and African.  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, mangú is accompanied by deep-fried meat (Dominican salami, typically) and/or cheese. Similar to Spanish tradition, lunch is generally the largest and most important meal of the day.  Lunch usually consists of rice, meat (such as chicken, beef, pork, or fish), beans, and a side portion of 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 are chicharrón, yuca, casabe, pastelitos (empanadas), batata, yam, pasteles en hojachimitostones (a fried plantain dish).  Some treats Dominicans enjoy are arroz con leche (or arroz con dulce), bizcocho dominicano (lit. Dominican cake), habichuelas con dulce,  frío frío (snow cones) and caña (sugarcane).  The beverages Dominicans enjoy are Morir Soñandorum, beerMama Juanamabí, 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.

MUSIC

Musically, the Dominican Republic is known for the world popular musical style and genre called merengue, 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.

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.

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