DISCOVER THE AREA
3000 B.C. – Estimated date of the arrival of the first of waves of aboriginals to the island, coming from South America.
Seventh Century – The Tainos arrive; the most advanced aboriginal group that began to implant its culture throughout the island.
1492 (December 5) – Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón in Spanish) arrives on the North Coast and gives the island the name “La Española” or “Hispaniola”.
1496 - Bartolomé Colón, Christopher Columbus's younger brother, founds the city of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, the first city of the “New World”.
1518 - Introduction of first African slaves.
1530 – Construction of the first cathedral in the Americas.
1538 – Completion of construction of the first university in all of the Americas.
1697 - "Treaty of Ryswick", Spain cedes the western part of the island (today, Haiti) and recognizes France’s de facto occupation
1777 - "Treaty of Aranjuez", defines the borders between the French and Spanish parts of the island.
1795 - "Treaty of Basilea", Spain is forced to recognize the sovereignty of the entire island.
1809 – 1821 – Hegemony returns to the Spanish Crown. This period is known as “Foolish Spain”, because of the little or no involvement in the affairs of the colony.
1821 – The Spanish Creole inhabitants, led by José Núñez de Cáceres, proclaim independence for the eastern part of the island and create "The Independent State of Spanish Haiti". This period is known as the "ephemeral independence" for its short life.
1822 – Haitian Invasion: The Haitian army under General Jean Pierre Boyer invades the eastern part and takes absolute control of the island for more than 22 years. During the occupation slaves are emancipated and the Haitians take control of all aspects of the society from the traditional dominant class.
1844 – Independence: A clandestine resistance group, led by Juan Pablo Duarte and called the "La Trinitaria" (“The Trinitarion"), coordinates various attacks against the Haitian forces, and finally forces their retreat. On February 27, 1844 the eastern part of the island declares its independence and takes the name, “Dominican Republic”.
1844 – The first Constitution is ratified on November 6.
1844 - Pedro Santana is elected as the First Constitutional President on November 14.
1844 – 1861 – The First Republic is characterized by intense disputes with Haiti as the latter orchestrates successive invasions, always defeated by the Dominican Army.
1861 – Annexation to Spain: President Pedro Santana, without the support of the people, opts to annex the country to Spain.
1863 – 1865 – War of Restauration: The Dominicans, capably led by General Gregorio Luperón, plan a guerrilla war that defeats the Spanish troops and in turn restores independence.
1865 – Beginning of the Second Republic which lasts until 1916.
1867 – Peace treaty between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
1882-1899 – Dictatorship of Lilis: Ulises Heureaux (Lilís) governed according to the Constitution from 1882 to 1884, but from 1887 until his assassination in 1899 he implanted a repressive dictatorship.
1916 – United States Occupation: Motivated by protection of strategic interests to protect the Panama Canal from a possible German attack. The North American troops abandon the island in 1924.
1924 – President Horacio Vázquez comes to power and constructs highways and schools and puts in place measures to reactivate the economy.
1930 – 1961 – Trujillo Dictatorship: Characterized by economic progress, implementation of public order through severe repression, genocide of Haitians, Trujillo family control and monopoly of the majority of the country's industry, commerce and communication systems and good diplomatic relations with the United States, Spain, Italy and the Vatican, among others.
1961 – Assination of Trujillo: The deterioration and degeneration in the final years of the dictatorship finally provoked a group of his closest collaborators to conspire against him and end his life. They machine gunned the vehicle in which he was riding.
1962 – First free elections in which political parties placed a significant role. The Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), led by Juan Bosch, from the social democrat tradition and center left orientation, comes to power.
1963 – The Constitution of 1963 is enacted, which defends freedoms of religion and expression, the right to housing. Also, the political dissidents and exiles from the Trujillo regime return.
1964 – Military coup by a faction of the Armed Forces under Elías Wessin y Wessin, places in power a Triunvirate composed of representatives of the neotrujillist oligarchy.
1965 – Civil War: Favored by an existing division in the Armed Forces. On one side those loyal to the constitutional government of Juan Bosch and on the other those opposed to the reestablishment of the constitutional government aided by the USA with 40,000 Marines under the excuse of stopping communism and the liberal ideas of Juan Bosch. In spite of the strong resistance of the constitutionalists there were eventually defeated and a national restauration government is installed under the presidency of General Antonio Imbert Barreras.
1966 – 1978 – "Balaguer's 12 Years": In June of 1966 polemic elections are held and Joaquín Balaguer, the preferred candidate of the USA and leader of the Reformist Party is elected. He governs through strong political repression for 12 years. His policies were based on import substitution to aid the development of national industries, austerity in government spending to increase savings and the development of many infrastructural works.
1978 – 1982 – The Antonio Guzmán (PRD) administration brought a truly democratic environment never before seen in the country
1982 -1986 – The Salvador Jorge Blanco (PRD) administration was forced to face a difficult economic recession and the president’s corruption trial from which he was pardoned without ever proving his innocence or guilty.
1986 – 1996 - Joaquín Balaguer returns again to the presidency, now with the PRSC. During this period he completed the last on his great projects, the Faro a Colón (“Columbus Lighthouse”) to commemorate the Quincentennial of the Discovery of America, putting national and person aggrandizement above the pressing needs of the massive underclass..
1996 - 2000 - The first administration of Leonel Fernández from the Party of Dominican Liberation carried out a policy of economic and judicial reforms and the creation of roadways through the capital city. He also displayed his abilities in foreign relations, the creation of employment, the development of duty free manufacturing zones and education in new technologies.
2000 - 2004 – The administration of Hipólito Mejía, of the PRD was hurt by an economic recession and financial crisis that brought about a drastic devaluation in the national currency never before witnessed. His controversial personal style, profoundly sarcastic and laconic form in formal settings, also did not help him to be reelected.
2004 – 2008 – The second Leonel Fernández administration, of the PLD is characterized by severe tax pressures with increasing and stable economic growth in spite of world crisis and petroleum prices that seriously affected the public coffers and the pockets of Dominicans. He completes his controversial project - the first Metro line in the country.
2008 - 2010 - The third Leonel Fernández administration, of the PLD is characterized by the global economic crisis, allegations of government corruption, various infrastructural projects especially highways on the national level and works in the capital city, and the design of a new constitution.
The Constitution ratified in San Cristóbal on November 6, 1844 has been amended 36 times; the first on February 25, 1854 and the last modification was approved by the National Assembly and took effect on July 25, 2002. A new Constitution was approved by the National Assembly in 2009and took effect on the 26th of January, 2010.
The legal system is based on French Civil Code.
It is a representative democracy based on the classic model of separation of powers: Executive Branch, Legislative Branch and Judicial Branch.
The Executive Branch is headed by the President of the Republic who is elected by the Dominican electorate through direct vote every 4 years. The President names the government’s cabinet, he is responsible for effecting the laws passed by the Legislative Branch and is also the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and the National Police.
The Legislative Branch is the National Congress which is composed of two legislative chambers:
The Senate, of territorial representation and is composed of one
representative from each province (31), plus one from the National
The Chamber of Deputies has a total of 152 seats.
There is a Provincial Governor in each province (31) who is the representative of the central government and is appointed by the President. In addition, there are Mayors, elected by popular vote every four years who are the administrators of the National District and Municipalities and Municipal Districts throughout the country.
The most important political parties are:
The Party of Dominican Liberation (PLD), with a neoliberal/centrist ideology
The Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), leftist/populist leaning
The Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC), representing the Dominican right
Elections are held every 4 years for the presidency and congressional and municipal positions although they do not coincide and separated by 2 years.