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About the Country
The Dominican Republic occupies two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola which it shares with Haiti. It is located in the Caribbean Sea with a fertile, humid and mountainous terrain. It enjoys a subtropical climate with daily high temperatures of 30º C (86ºF) throughout the year in the Bavaro Punta Cana area.
Although the country is known worldwide for its beaches of incomparable beauty, it possesses other attractive places that complete the landscape of spectacular contrasts including the highest peak in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte (3,100 meters, 10,170 feet) and the lowest point, Lago Enriquillo (Lake Enriquillo) at 44 meters (144 feet) below sea level and an area of 265 Km2 (162 square miles). Other marvels are the national parks and protected natural reserves of great environmental import, such as Los Haitises National Park to mention only one. The municipalities of Jarabacoa and Constanza in La Vega, offer not only marvelous vistas but also a spring like climate with refreshing temperatures that lend to the cultivation of strawberries and numerous varieties of flowers.
Its most important cities are the capital, Santo Domingo de Guzmán on the south coast, and Santiago de los Caballeros, 155Kms (95 miles) to the northwest. Between the two there are more than 4 million inhabitants of the country’s almost 10 million. The country is becoming more urban based as, in spite of the importance of agriculture to the economy, more and more tend to migrate to the two large cities. Access to universities and greater occupational opportunities along with economic dynamism are some of the causes of this migration to the cities.
Outside of these two cities, the population engages mainly in agriculture, animal husbandry, fishing, manufacture for export and tourism. The Dominican Republic receives almost 4 million tourists annually distributed principally between two tourist destinations, Punta Cana Bávaro on the east coast, with great growth in the present, and Puerto Plata-Sosua-Cabarete on the north coast. The other principal tourist destinations and with substantial development in the last few years are the Samaná Peninsula, with Las Terrenas; and La Romana with Casa de Campo and Bayahibes. Tourism is without a doubt one of the country’s principal sources of income and because of its importance great effort is committed to favoring, diversifying and improving its quality. Rural, mountain and adventure tourism also have experienced important growth in the last decade.
A COUNTRY OF CONTRASTS
Traditional Country House
Valley of Constanza
The country enjoys political stability through a democracy established some 50 years ago. The current president is Dr. Leonel Fernández who is now in his third four-year government and second consecutive term. He is the leader of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) (Party of Dominican Liberation) with a neoliberal orientation, who has pushed for the development of infrastructure (such as the first line of the Metro rail system in Santo Domingo) and important free commerce international agreements.
Although there is economic stability and constant growth rates above the average for the region, 75% of the population lives under very difficult economic circumstances. The wages are low and the unemployment rate is high. The middle class has only existed for some 40 years and only a small minority lives a life of abundance and luxury.
Three-quarters of the population is mulato or mixed race and most of the the remaining are divided equally between blacks and whites. Coexisting in a lesser proportion are Arabs, Asians, Jews, Europeans and North Americans.