General Facts About the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is situated on the island Hispaniola which it shares with the Republic of Haiti. Within the Caribbean islands, Hispaniola is the second largest, with a surface area of 48,442 km. The Dominican Republic is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and to the south by the Caribbean Sea.
The population of the Dominican Republic is 9,980,243 (2013 Census). The capital of the Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo. Greater Santo Domingo has a population of around three million people. The Dominican Republic is a representative democracy. There are three branches of government: the Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Every four years the country elects its president, vice president, legislators and city government officials.
Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic. The Colonial City, located in Santo Domingo, with 16th to early 20th century architecture, is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. In this country is found the first cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress built in all the Americas.
On December 5, 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on Hispaniola island, which had been inhabited by the Taino people since the 7th century. Santo Domingo was the first permanent European settlement in the New World and became the first seat of the Spanish Empire in the Americas.
The Dominican Republic has a growing economy; it is the ninth largest one in Latin America and the largest of the Caribbean countries. The Dominican Republic has been one of the fastest growing economies in the Americas during more than 20 years. For many years the economy of this country was known for agriculture and mining, nowadays is dominated by services, where tourism is a very strong component.
In the Dominican culture music and dance are very important, with merengue and bachata the best known. For many years baseball has been the favorite sport.