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The Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic can be found in the Caribbean Sea, occupying two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola.

Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1492 who named it Hispaniola. The East soon became a Spanish colony, while the French established themselves in the west that now is known as Haiti.

The Spanish colony was ceded to the French in 1795 and soon fell to the Haitian Toussaint L’Ouventure, who proclaimed himself ruler of all Hispaniola. The Spanish were restored in the East in 1809 and 1821 the colony gained independence.

It was held by Haiti from 1822 until 1844 when the Dominican Republic was founded. Political and economic instability led to the US occupation (1916-22) and the establishment (1930) of Trujillo’s 30-year dictatorship. Following his assassination Juan Bosch was elected president only to be deposed in a military coup. An attempt to reinstate Bosch was president from the USA in 1965.

Joaquin Blaguer was president from 1966 to 1978 and from 1986 to 1996, when he was succeeded by Leonel Fernandez.

The Dominican Republic is still in touch with their history and have monuments built celebrating the Columbus discovery. The Columbus family home is open for tours and even his tomb is celebrated and opened on the anniversary of the discovery.

Largely mountainous, the Dominican Republic maintains its principal economies as mainly agricultural. The main crops are sugar and bananas, coffee and cocoa. Manufacturing and tourism are growing in importance to the country and it has since grown into a popular holiday destination for many tourists looking for a slice of the Caribbean at a fraction of the cost.

Visiting the Dominican Republic, you will notice the obvious trend towards both Spanish and American symbols - many towns have a US feel to them. Baseball and basketball are the most popular sports in the cities.

The capital Santa Domingo is one part that still retains and celebrates its history. The central point of the town is the great Catedral Primada de America, the oldest cathedral in the New World and is a popular stop for tourists passing through the quaint, historical and quiet town.

Notes for travellers

Health: Consult your doctor at least three months ahead of your trip for up-to-date information about any immunisations that you may need.

Transport: Buses are inexpensive but often overcrowded.

Entry Regulations: Canadian nationals and US need only proof of citizenship and a tourist card. All other nationalities need a passport. British and most other European visitors do nor require visas.

Time: EST + 1, GMT – 4)

Currency: The Dominican peso is divided into 100 centavos.