The Central American Dominican Republic occupies most of Hispaniola, an island in the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean arch. The country is mainly mountainous and has a humid tropical climate with relatively constant temperatures. The crisis-prone economy of the developing country is based on sugar cane cultivation, mining and tourism. In recent years, tourism in particular has become an important source of foreign currency.
As one of the 5 countries starting with D according to COUNTRYAAH, the Dominican Republic occupies most of the Antilles island of Hispaniola. The west of the island belongs to the smaller state of Haiti in terms of area. Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Greater Antilles, lies between the open Atlantic Ocean in the north and the Caribbean Sea in the south. With a west-east extension of 380 km and a width of 270 km, the Dominican Republic is somewhat larger than Switzerland.
The state capital is Santo Domingo on the Caribbean coast, where the grave of COLUMBUS is said to be.
Hispaniola is the most mountainous island in the Greater Antilles: a total of five mountain ranges cross the island from northwest to southeast. In between there are valley plains with fertile alluvial soil. The backbone of the country is the highest middle mountain range, the Sierra Central. Here is the Pico Duarte (3175 m), the highest point in the Caribbean island world.
Only in the south-east of the country is there a larger plain, the coastal plain with the state capital.
Hispaniola is in the area of influence of the tropical climate change. A winter dry season is followed by an extended summer rainy season. Due to the diversity of the landscape, the climatic conditions vary greatly from region to region. The north-east trade wind brings annual rainfall of more than 2000 mm to the mountains, barely a third of that to the plains. The average temperatures in the whole country fluctuate only slightly around 25 °C during the year.
The vegetation is characterized by dry forests and thorn savannahs with cacti and succulents, depending on the amount of rainfall in the rain shadow of the mountains. On the rainy slopes of the mountains z. Sometimes still green rainforests and summer green mountain forests.
Important data about the country
|8.9 million (1999)
|183 residents / km²
|Growth of population:
|1.5% / year
|67 years on average
|Form of government:
|Mixed race (mulattos) 73%, whites 16%, blacks 11%
|Spanish as the national language
|alternately humid tropical climate with winter dry season, average temperatures in Santo Domingo evenly between 24 and 27 °C
|Arable land 30%, grass and
pasture land 43%, forest 13%
|Main export goods:
|Sugar, coffee, tobacco, cocoa, bananas, bauxite, nickel
|Gross domestic product:
|$ 16,540 million (2003)
(share of GDP, 2003)
|Industry 31%, agriculture 11%, services 58%
|Gross National Product:
|US $ 2,130 / residents (2003)
The economy of the Dominican Republic, one of the developing countries, is essentially based on three pillars: sugar cane cultivation, mining and tourism.
The agriculture, which is dominated by a few large landowners and state enterprises, about 70% are of export earnings. Traditional economic bases are the sugar cane cultivation in the plains and coffee cultures in the mountains. Cocoa, bananas and tobacco are also produced, primarily for export. For the sugar cane and coffee harvest on the large plantations, many migrant workers are recruited from the impoverished neighboring country Haiti.
However, the monoculture in agriculture has consequences:
If world market prices fall or if one of the hurricanes that frequently occur in late summer has destroyed the harvest, then the urgently needed foreign exchange proceeds are reduced or almost entirely absent.
Not only the economy, but the whole country then becomes “sick”.
That is why the government is trying to attract industry. So were free trade zones established in which mainly foreign companies settled. Above all, these benefit from the abundant supply of cheapest labor by processing imported semi-finished products. The finished products do not reach the local market but are exported again.
Otherwise, only the sugar industry and the processing of the ores mined in the country (silver, gold, nickel and iron) for export play a major role.
In the 1990’s the country developed into one of the most important destinations for mass tourism. Fantastic beaches, varied landscapes and stylish colonial architecture attract mainly North Americans and Germans to the new holiday centers on the country’s coasts, especially La Romana, Punta Cana and Puerto Plata.
The Dominican Republic’s well-developed road network is also beneficial to tourism.
On his first voyage of discovery, COLUMBUS arrived on the island of Hispaniola in 1492. Sailors from his crew also established the first European branch in the New World here. The country was then a Spanish colony until well into the 19th century.
In 1865 the Dominican Republic finally gained independence. Towards the end of the 19th century, as in Cuba, the USA gained a strong influence over the country. During this time, upheavals and constant changes of government, which led the country deeper and deeper into crisis, were the order of the day. That is why American troops even held it occupied from 1916 to 1924.
In the decades that followed, dictators took over power, who mostly ruled with an “iron fist” and brutally suppressed internal resistance. The name of the dictator Trujillo was the epitome of corruption, terror and murder in Central America in the 50’s and 60’s of the last century. In the years of dictatorships, the country was also unrestrainedly plundered by a few family clans and robbed of its wealth.
In 1965, the Dominican Republic was on the brink of civil war that US military intervention could prevent. Only from then on did the republic develop on a thorny road to democracy.