The Dominican Republic

by:Lili Zarringhalam

 

 

The Dominican Republic has a total population of almost eight million. It's the most populated country in the Caribbean. The main religion is Roman Catholic. The Dominican Republic has an area of 48,482 square kilometers.Haiti is to the west of the Dominican Republic.The Windward Passage separates western Hispanola from Cuba.To the east, across the Mona Passage, lies Puerto Rico only fifty-four miles away.The country is divided into twenty-nine provinces and a National Territory surrounding the capital, Santo Domingo.The official language is Spanish.

Geography

The geography of the Dominican Republic ranges from arid semi-desert plains to valleys of tropical rain forests.Most tourists are attracted to it's sandy beaches that extend over one-third of its 870 mile coastal regions.The Dominican Republic has three main mountain ranges.The Cordilla Cenrale is the highest mountain range on the island.Another one is the Pico Duarte the highest mountain at the height of 3,175 meters.During winter, snow covers its peak.The Cordillera Oriental is the smallest of the three mountains.Two more mountain ranges are Neiba Sierra and Sierra de Bohoruco both in the southwest of the country.Lake Enriquillo is the lowest point in the Caribbean at twenty-seven meters below sea level.The Southeast region of the island,including the area surrounding the capital city of Santo Domingo, is mostly covered with rolling plains.To the west,along the northern two-thirds of the border with Haiti, the land is arid where vegetation is of dry thorn shrubs and varieties of cactus plants.There are no large wild animals, no poisonous snakes, spiders, insects whose bite or sting is life-threatening to humans.There are some spiders whose sting can be painful but these types of spiders are rare.

A map of the Dominican Republic

 

History

For at least 5,000 years before Christopher Columbus "discovered" America for the Europeans, the island which he called Hispaniola was inhibited by American Indians.One tribe was from the West in Central America probably Yucatan and the second from the South, descendant of the Arawakan Indian tribes in Amazonia.The word Taino meant "good" or "noble" in their language.The Indians were peaceful and generous in their hospitality.By the end of the 15th century the Tainos had five tribes.

Christopher Columbus continued his explorations in the Caribbean and after the discovery of gold in the Ozama river valley in the south, he founded the city of Santo Domingo in 1496.The Spaniards on the island did not like being ruled by an Italian. So they put him in chains and sent him back to Spain.

The French had control of the eastern side of the island until 1809 when it was returned to Spanish rule.The Spaniards not only reestablished slavery in their colony,but many of them also mounted raiding expeditions into Haiti to capture blacks and enslave them.The colonists of Santo Domingo under the leadership of Jose Nunez de Caceres proclaimed the "Ephemeral Independence."

The situation of the Dominican Republic for the first seventy years following its independence was a series of civil wars interrupted by brief periods of peace before being disrupted again by politically-motivated strife and violence generated by power hungry followers of regional strongmen.They attacked their opponents with charges of corruption and lack of patriotism and made promises to carry out reforms.As soon as they had the opportunity to take office, they all forgot about their promises and proceeded to place their friends and relatives in positions of prominence and raid the country's treasury as if it were a family fortune that was there for them to loot and squander.

Raphael Leonidas Trujilo was in power for over thirty years.On May 30,1961, he got in a automobile accident.When he died he was considered to be one of the richest men in the world.His fortune was estimated to be five hundred million US dollars.

The year 1992 was marked by the five hundred-year anniversary celebration of Columbus' discovery of America.In honor of the event, a concrete monument, the Faro de Colon(Columbus'Lighthouse) was erected on the outskirts of Santo Domingo.

Today the Dominican Republic is progressing as a free and Democratic nation.Politicians are able to campaign without being censored.Dominicans are involved in the political arena and newspapers provide a free and open flow of information to the people.The country is still watched over by the police and the army.

 

Foods of the Dominican Republic

A typical Dominican cuisine is centered around brown beans(habichuelas) and rice.With the rice there is chicken, beef, pork or goat, cooked only with very mild spices. Most Dominicans won't eat spicy foods.You should never drink water from the tap which has not been thoroughly boiled. Fresh,bottled drinking water is sold everywhere.The most popular local beer is Presidente. The Dominican Republic also brews a variety of excellent rums, including brands of different levels of quality made by the local Barcelo and Brugal companies and others too.

 

Holidays

January 6--Epiphany

January 26--Day of Duarte

February 27--Independence Day

April14--Pan-American Day

July 10-12--Bachata Festival of Sousa

October 12--Columbus Day

December 25--Christmas Day

 

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