The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean island paradise. Millions flock to its pristine beaches for vacay holidays every year. Before you make plans for your next getaway there, it is always a good idea to gather some useful and fascinating Dominican Republic facts.
In this article we will discuss geography, history, even travelling tips. Read on to learn more of the Dominican Republic and its beauties!
10 Dominican Republic Facts To Read Before Your Vacation
1. The Geography Lesson
One of the many Dominican Republic facts you should know before traveling to the Dominican Republic is its geographic orientation. The Dominican Republic is situated on the easternmost five-eighths of the second-largest island in the Caribbean, after Cuba, called Hispaniola. Haiti makes up the western three-eighths of the island.
Hispaniola is a part of the Carribbean islands known as the Greater Antilles. It is located about ninety miles southeast of Cuba’s southern most point and some fifty miles west of Puerto Rico.
2. Ancient History
More Dominican Republic facts to wet your palate. The pre-Columbian West Indies was actually a very populous place when Christopher Columbus stepped foot onto Hispaniola. It is estimated that one to two million indigenous people resided there at the time of his arrival in late 1492. These people were known as the Taino.
The Taino populated much of the region, including Cuba, Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and of course Hispaniola. They had a thriving and complex culture with a set social order, governmental hierarchy, and elaborate religious beliefs and rituals. The Taino lived in small to large settlements, made log houses with thatched roofs, created pottery, baskets and jewelry, and grew a variety of vegetables. They also fished, hunted and gathered other wild plants for food.
The Spaniards wasted no time conquering the Taino, dwindling their numbers to a mere few thousand by 1520, mostly through methods of starvation, disease and enslavement. By 1550, the Taino were all but lost, although some still claim full lineage.
3. European Claim and Rule
With the arrival of Christopher Columbus on December 6, 1492, the island was claimed by Spain under colonial rule. Hispaniola was the first claim made by Spain in the New World. France eventually gained a foothold in Haiti and for a short time at the end of the 18th century, controlled the entire island.
Over three hundred years would pass before the Dominican people would claim their independence in November of 1821, only to lose it to their then powerful neighbor, Haiti, in February of 1822. The Dominican people would claim victory from Haitian rule in 1844, but fall back under Spanish colonial rule until the Dominican War of Restoration in 1865. Internal conflict would plague the nation for another fifty years. From 1916 to 1978, the country would endure two United States military occupations, a dictatorship and authoritarian rule.
4. The Dominican Republic Today
Today, the Dominican people reside under a representative democracy led by their current president, Danilo Medina.
Income equality, government corruption, inconsistency in utility services, and unemployment are still significant issues. However, the Dominican Republic continues to enjoy record growth, largely due to its tourism, manufacturing, and construction industries. It is the most visited tourist destination in the Caribbean.
5. Economic Situation
Here is a little more trivia under the Dominican Republic facts spinning wheel. The Dominican Republic has the largest economy in Central America, and is the ninth-largest in all of Latin America.
Every year since 2014, it has seen the highest GDP growth in the western hemisphere. In contrast, its neighbor, Haiti, is the poorest country in the Americas, and one of the poorest in the world.
6. Culture and Spoken Language
Early on the Taino people spoke Arawakan languages, but once the Spaniards dominating over the region, Spanish became the official spoken language.
The Dominican people’s culture and heritage derive from European, Taino and African influences. Its African heritage evolved from Hispaniola being a primary port for Spain’s prolific trading of African peoples as slaves to the Americas.
7. Main Attractions
The Dominican Republic offers amazing attractions.
- Aside from its amazing beaches, historic sites, shopping, nightlife, and world-class golf courses, visitors can enjoy snorkeling its many coral reefs, trek pine forests and jungles, stand under cascading waterfalls, and go white water rafting down the Rio Yaque del Norte.
- Another one of the many interesting Dominican Republic facts is that it has the highest peak in all of the Caribbean. Pico Duarte stands in at over 10,000 feet high, and is part of the Cordillera Central Mountain Range.
- Fishing is a huge attraction as well. Visitors can charter boats for fishing marlin, barracuda and swordfish. There are also a number of large fishing tournaments that take place annually in the Dominican Republic.
In Santo Domingo alone, there are plenty of star attractions to be found.
- One of them is the Zona Colonial, which is one square mile of picturesque streets with some of the oldest colonial structures in the Western Hemisphere.
- The most notable being the Catedral Primada de America, the oldest cathedral in the Americas.
- There are plenty of museums as well, like the Museo del Ron y la Cana, the Amber World Museum, the Museo Memorial de la Resistencia Dominicana, and Museo Alcazar de Colon.
- There are also caves to explore, such as at the Parque Mirador del Sur and Los Tres Ojos, and the beautiful gardens of Jardin Botanico Nacional.
8. Best Places to Visit
- The Dominican Republic offers some of the best beach destinations around. Puerto Plata, Playa Dorada, Punta Cana and Playa Rincon (in Samana) are a few of the more popular beach spots.
- For the adventurous, nature-loving vacationer, the Dominican Republic offers a number of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to visit. These include the Eastern National Park, Samana Pennisula and Bay, Jarabacoa (in the Central Mountains), Lake Enriquillo, and Bahia de Las Aguilas and Jaragua National Park. Each of these areas are abound with unique plant and animal life, picturesque waterfalls, precious marine habitats and fragile eco-systems.
- Maybe you prefer shopping and sightseeing instead. La Romana is a quaint, historic seaside resort town known for its shopping. Also, the Dominican Republic’s capital city, Santo Domingo, is the oldest city in the New World. It offers up impressive cultural history, beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, cobbled streets, fabulous hotels, shopping, and superior dining. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
9. Food and Nightlife
For travelers visiting Santo Domingo, there is no shortage of festivals, concerts and cultural events. A stroll down the Malecon waterside boulevard boasts a bustling nightlife. Popular music and dances abound, such as the menergue, bachata, son (imported from Cuba) and salsa and it can be witnessed virtually everywhere.
Food in the Dominican Republic is mostly influenced by Spanish and Caribbean cooking. Some of the more traditional dishes include:
- Sancocho (chicken, porkchop and vegetable stew);
- Arroz Habichuela y Carne (meat, beans and rice);
- Chicharrones de Pollo (a fried chicken dish);
- Pescado con Coco (fish with coconut);
- Dulce de Coco (a sweet made from coconuts).
10. Other Miscellaneous Dominican Republic Facts
- Did you know baseball is the most popular sport? Several famous players, like Sammy Sosa, are from the Dominican Republic. More than 800,000 Dominican children play baseball in organized leagues.
- Famous fashion designer, Oscar de la Renta, was born in the Dominican Republic.
- Mamajuana is a special Dominican drink touted to be an aphrodisiac. Similar to port wine, it is made from rum, red wine, honey, herbs and tree bark.
- In 2010, Santo Domingo was awarded the title of Cultural Capital of the Americas.
- From January to March, humpback whales crowd Samana Bay. A popular time for whale watchers traveling to the Dominican Republic.
To the Airport
You may now know some of the reasons why the Dominican Republic is a touristic even among celebrities, who enjoy having their life events there. The rest is up to you to discover.
With all that the Dominican Republic has to offer, vacationers and business travelers alike will take pleasure in visiting this lush and culturally diverse country.