Dominican Republic

Swimming in the Caribbean Seas, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the Dominican Republic has what it takes to create the perfect mix for a true paradise: the island offers a large diversity of sceneries with fascinating differences between the north and the south. It is a hospitable country with kilometers of white sandy beaches, coconut trees, banana trees and a sea with its water temperature set between 22°C and 29°C all year round.

Basic Fact Sheet:

• Flight only as from: Approximately 700 Euros.

• Requirements: Passport as well as a tourist card costing about 10 USD for a maximum stay of 15 days which can be extended to 90 days against a surcharge of 300 pesos.

• Flight Time: 9 hours 05 from Paris.

• Time Difference: GMT -4hrs.

• Language: Spanish across the whole country.

• Religion: Catholicism is the State’s religion.

• Currency: Dominican Peso.

• Health and safety: No compulsory vaccine except for long stays. Vaccination against Hepatitis A and B, Polio and Typhoid should be up to date.

• Area: 48734 km² (77914 km² along with Haiti).

• Population: 9.2 million inhabitants.

History

The Taino Indians, great farmers and fishermen and one of the most advanced indigenous civilizations of the West Indies were the island’s first inhabitants. Upon the Europeans’ arrival in 1492, the Dominican Republic’s population was estimated at around one million divided into five tribes. Christopher Columbus discovered the island on the 5th of December 1492; he renamed it “Hispaniola” with respect for the country that was financing his expedition. A first colony was founded and during his second trip, he came back with more than 1500 men including priests to evangelize the locals. In 1520, because of slavery and diseases, the Taino population was practically exterminated; there is only a few thousands left in the entire Caribbean region.

In 1511, to make up for the drastic decline of the indigenous population, the Spanish imported labor force from Africa, who was immediately converted to Christianity by the Church. A serious slave trade then began between the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British and the French.

During the 18th century, Hispaniola fell under French ownership after naval wars that took place in the West Indies. The whites had the supremacy on the island until the revolt of 1791.The abolition of slavery was proclaimed in 1793; afterwards the General Dessalines, former slave, declared Independence and thus the first black-led republic in the world was born in 1804. In 1809, the Spanish got rid of the Haitian armies and took back control of the island. The Dominican Republic was created in 1844 and was handed to the United States in 1916. In the middle of the world war, the Dominican sugar proved to be a vital resource. In 1924, the American soldiers withdrew from the island and in 1930 Trujillo came to power and established a reign of terror during 30 years. The Americans intervened once again in 1965 during the cold war afraid that the island might sink into communism.

Today, the country is a democratic republic close to the United States. The actual president is Leonel Fernandez of the socialist party, the PLD.

Culture

The Dominican Republic counts a number of musical styles such as the Tumba, the Bachata and the Merengue. Its carnival is marked by its originality; it is celebrated on the date of the Spanish conquest, during which rule it was imported from America. It is celebrated during the month of February and across the country. On the 16th of August, the carnival also takes place to celebrate the restoration of the republic in 1863. It is first and foremost a popular event that takes on different characteristics depending on each region. It is a mixture of Europeanized Christian rites and elements of African origins, brought along by slaves.

Base-ball is the national sport and has seen the birth of great players who have competed in the Major Base-Ball League in the United States.

Sugarcane along with rum distillation and tobacco are also part of the Dominican culture. More than 50% of the Dominican tobacco is produced in Villa Gonzalez, a small commune situated in Cibao and capital of the island’s tobacco industry.

A lot of Dominicans are descendants of African slaves. The gap between the rich and the poor is very substantial with the Spanish descendants, the whites, being by far the richest while the blacks and those of mixed-races, namely of Taino Indians, Africans and Spanish mixtures, find themselves at the bottom of the social ladder.

Geography & Climate

Géographie & Climat

carte_republique_dominicaine

The Dominican Republic, a fertile country, is situated in Central America, in the Caribbean zone between Puerto Rico and Cuba. The island comprises two states: Haiti in the west and the Dominican Republic in the east.  It takes up two thirds of the country and has several adjacent islands, for example Saona and Beata. Its capital is Santo Domingo whose old quarters have been renovated so as to keep its colonial charm.

The island’s geography is greatly diverse; we can find forests, mountains, plains, valleys and plateaus. Beautiful long beaches stretch along the north, the south and all along the east coast. There is a huge contrast between the surroundings of the Enriquillo basin in the west and the coconut trees-fringed beaches in the east.

The flattest area of the island is undoubtedly the region of Santo Domingo in the southern part. The center is rather mountainous. The Pico Duarte is the highest point of the island at 3087 meters and at the same time the highest mountain of the Caribbean. There is also a salted lake, Lake Enriquillo that is situated at 45 meters below sea-level and is home to a peculiar fauna: iguanas, pink flamingoes and the last American crocodiles.

The weather in the Dominican Republic is very pleasant as the north-west trade winds bring a gentle feel to the tropical humid climate. There are two seasons: summer and winter. On average, the temperature revolves around 25°C and climbs up to 40°C during summer. Between November and April, the temperatures are slightly cooler, thanks to the rains.

However there is no drastic change between the two seasons since the weather barely ever changes. It is thus possible to visit all year while bearing in mind that the hurricane period, even though quite inactive, lasts from June to November.

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