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  Dominican Republic Overview  
 

Columbus discovered the island of Hispaniola (which he called La Espaniola) in 1492 and established it as his main base for the further exploration of the region. In 1697, the western part of the island came under French control, with the east remaining under Spanish control. In 1795, the city of Santo Domingo (the oldest city in the Americas, founded in 1496 by Columbus’ brother) was ceded to the French, followed by the rest of the island of Hispaniola later the same year. The battle of Palohincado, in 1808, in which Dominican General Ramirez inflicted an important defeat on the French, heralded the collapse of French rule in the eastern part of the island.

The colony reverted to Spanish sovereignty in 1809, and in 1821, the colonial treasurer, José Nunez de Caceres, proclaimed Santo Domingo’s independence. This independence was short-lived – in 1822, the Haitians invaded the colony and occupied it for 22 years, until, on 27 February 1844, the territory of Santo Domingo recovered its sovereignty and declared independence once again, this time permanently, as the Dominican Republic.

Today, the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, a former French colony. Most tourists who come to the island are initially attracted by the magnificent golden sand beaches along its 1,400km (870-mile) coast line. The island’s northern, Atlantic side contains the majority of tourist attractions, hotels and resorts, particularly in the 64km (40-mile) zone between Puerto Plata and Cabarete. Santo Domingo, in the south, features the very first monuments of the American continent: the first cathedral, the first hospital, the first chapel and the first university. In the center of the country, the three main mountain ranges run roughly parallel to each other in an easterly/westerly direction. The Cordillera Central is the highest mountain range on the island. It includes Pico Duarte, the highest mountain in the Caribbean at a height of 3,098m (over 10,000ft).

Western influence can be seen in the numerous colonial buildings of the capital Santo Domingo while the African heritage, introduced by African slaves brought to the island by the Spanish, is reflected in its music. The popular song and dance, the merengue, blends both heritages and is celebrated in several festivals which draw large numbers of national and international musicians.

Geography

The Dominican Republic shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti and constitutes the eastern two-thirds of land. The landscape is forested and mountainous, with valleys, plains and plateau. The soil is fertile with excellent beaches on the north, southeast and east coasts, rising up to the mountains.

*infomation from www.iexplore.com

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