Dominican Republic Overview
|Form of government
|Telephone area code
The Dominican Republic (Spanish: Rep®≤blica Dominicana)
is located in the Greater Antilles in the area of the
West Indies (also: Caribbean Islands), an arch of
islands that stretches from Florida to the coast of
South America. With an area of 48,700 km², the country
is slightly larger than Switzerland. The Republic shares
the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, its smaller
neighbor in the west. Otherwise, the country is
surrounded by the Atlantic in the north and the
Caribbean in the south.
The Mona Passage (Canal de la Mona) is located
between the outermost east tip and the opposite Puerto
Rico. The mountain ranges and valleys of the
Cordilleras, which run from northwest to southeast,
characterize the mountainous country, which is preceded
by a coastal plain in the south. The highest mountain in
the country - and at the same time the Caribbean - is
the Pico Duarte with 3 175 m height. It is located in
the center of the Dominican Republic in the Cordillera
Central, which merges with the Massif du Nord in Haiti.
Numerous rivers flow through the country, including the
east of the Rio Yuna and the north of the Rio Yaque del
Norte. The largest natural lake is Lago de Enriquillo
near the Haitian border.
The Dominican Republic has a tropical climate that is
influenced by the trade wind. This constantly blowing
wind moves the air masses from the subtropical high
pressure belt towards the equatorial low pressure
channel and causes the alternation of dry season in
winter and rainy season in summer. The temperatures vary
little over the year. In the capital Santo Domingo they
are 24 °„C in January and 27.5 °„C in July. In contrast to
the temperatures, the precipitation is very different
both seasonally and regionally. Up to 2,500 mm fall on
the mountain ranges annually, while the longitudinal
depressions only reach half, in exceptional cases even
Flora and fauna
Fertile soils (with the exception of the regions in
the extreme southwest) have created a rich flora. The
mountain slopes are mostly forested with pines and
hardwoods, although large areas in the lower areas have
been cleared and converted into cultivated land. The
drier areas are covered with shrubs and stunted trees
(thorn bush steppe). Palm trees are common across the
country. The mountains in the northeast are covered by
evergreen rainforest, in the northeast there are
mangroves in the coastal area.
Larger mammals are rarely found in the wild.
Alligators live at the mouths of the Yaque and in Lake
Enriquillo. In contrast to mammals, the bird population
has a wide range. Fish and shellfish live in the coastal
waters around the island. Humpback whales can be seen on
the north coast in winter. Round-tailed manatees are
also native to the coasts. However, the up to 4.5 m long
animals are threatened with extinction, just like the
rat-like slot weevil, a mammal species only found in
Central America, which specializes in insect hunting
with its proboscis nose.
According to COUNTRYAAH, 8.75 million people live in the Dominican
Republic; 73% of them are mulattoes, 11% black and 16%
white. The largest city is Santo Domingo with around
2.73 million residents (agglomeration). Other major
cities are Santiago de los Caballeros, San Pedro de
Macor®™s and Barahona. Due to its long colonial history,
the Dominican Republic is culturally Spanish.
Accordingly, the vast majority of the population (95%)
is Roman Catholic. Small Indian groups live in the
northern regions. The colloquial and official language
is Spanish, and Creole, of French origin, is common on
the western border with Haiti.
The average life expectancy in the island kingdom is
67.3 years, the literacy rate 85%. The population grows
by 1.5% every year.
The Dominican Republic is a presidential democracy
according to the 1966 constitution. The chief executive
and thus head of government is the president, who has
been directly elected by the people for four years
(since August 2012 Danilo Medina S®Ęnchez).
The bicameral parliament consists of the Senate with
32 members and a Chamber of Deputies with 183 members.
The legislative period of the members of both chambers
is four years.
The republic is divided into ten regions, which in
turn are divided into 31 provinces and a national
district with the capital.
The Republic's trade has traditionally been very much
focused on the USA. At the same time, the United States
provides large-scale economic aid, thereby exerting a
strong political and economic influence on the Dominican
Republic. A counterbalance to this is the increasing
focus on neighboring Caribbean countries. This was
demonstrated in 1998 in a free trade agreement with
CARICOM, which represents a union of fifteen Caribbean
countries in a common market. Due to the high number of
tourists from Europe, the EU is the third economic
pillar of increasing importance for the state.
Tourism, transfers from nationals working abroad and
profits from free trade areas are the main sources of
income for the state. Telecommunications, services and
the construction sector in particular show positive
trends, whereas mining and agriculture are becoming less
important. Accordingly, services account for 63% of the
gross domestic product, industry 31% and agriculture 6%.
Agriculture uses over two-thirds of the total area of
the state, with half of the acreage in the hands of
fewer landowners or state-owned.
The most important import goods are crude oil and
petroleum products, industrial goods, machinery,
vehicles and food, the most important export goods are
nickel, sugar and molasses as well as coffee and cocoa.
Gold and silver are also exported. Exports go to the
USA, followed by Haiti, the PR China and others. The USA
also imports most of the Dominican Republic.
The main ports are on the south coast of Santo
Domingo, R®™o Haina and La Romana, on the north coast of
Puerto Plata. There are several smaller and also
international airports in the country. The main ones are
Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata and Punta Cana.
The currency is the Dominican Peso.