Latin America & Caribbean

Dominican Republic country profile

Map and flag of the Dominican Republic

Once ruled by Spain, the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, a former French colony.

The Caribbean nation is a major tourist destination. This, coupled with free-trade zones, has become the country's major employer and key sources of revenue, replacing dependence on sugar, coffee and other exports.

The Dominican Republic is inhabited mostly by people of mixed European and African origins. Western influence is seen in the colonial buildings of the capital, Santo Domingo, as well as in art and literature. African heritage is reflected in music.

FACTS

Dominican Republic

Capital: Santo Domingo

  • Population 10.2 million

  • Area 48,072 sq km (18,696 sq miles)

  • Major language Spanish

  • Major religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy 71 years (men), 77 years (women)

  • Currency Dominican peso

Getty Images

LEADERS

Outgoing president: Danilo Medina

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images

The candidate of the governing Dominican Liberation Party, Danilo Medina, was first elected in a closely-fought presidential contest of May 2012 against former president Hipolito Mejia.

Mr Medina was re-elected to a second term with a wide margin in the May 2016 election. The main opposition candidate, Luis Abinader, accused the president of misusing state resources to win.

Born in 1950, Danilo Medina has since 1973 belonged to the Liberation Party, an originally neo-Marxist party that broke away from the social-democratic and now centre-right Dominican Revolutionary Party, and has itself moved steadily to the centre in the 1990s.

MEDIA

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images

Media ownership is concentrated in a few economically or politically-powerful hands.

There are scores of terrestrial TV channels and many multichannel cable TV operators. More than 300 radio stations are on the air, most of them commercial. The government operates TV and radio networks.

Press freedom is guaranteed by law and media outlets carry diverse political views.

TIMELINE

Some key dates in the history of the Dominican Republic:

1492 - Christopher Columbus visits the island, which he names Hispaniola, or "Little Spain".

1496 - Spaniards set up first Spanish colony in Western hemisphere at Santo Domingo, which subsequently serves as capital of all Spanish colonies in America.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Punta Cana with its beaches is a leading tourist destination

1697 - Treaty of Ryswick gives western part of Hispaniola island (Haiti) to France and eastern part (Santo Domingo - the present Dominican Republic) to Spain.

1795 - Spain cedes its portion of Hispaniola island to France.

1808 - Spain retakes Santo Domingo following revolt by Spanish Creoles.

1821 - Uprising against Spanish rules is followed by brief period of independence.

1822 - Haitian President Jean-Pierre Boyer marches his troops into Santo Domingo and annexes it.

1844 - Boyer overthrown; Santo Domingo declares its independence and becomes the Dominican Republic.

1861-64 - President Pedro Santana returns the Dominican Republic to Spanish rule. Spain withdraws from, and annuls its annexation of, the Dominican Republic following a popular revolt.

1865 - The second Dominican Republic proclaimed.

1906 - Dominican Republic and US sign 50-year treaty according to which the US takes over the republic's customs department in return for buying its debts.

1916-24 - US forces occupy the Dominican Republic following internal disorder.

1924 - Constitutional government assumes control; US forces withdraw.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Dominican Republic is a major Caribbean producer of sugarcane

1930-1961 - General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina establishes personal dictatorship following the overthrow of President Horacio Vazquez. He rules the country until his assassination in 1961.

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