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The Dominican Republic

July 29th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 
 

The Dominican Republic, (Spanish: República Dominicana, IPA [re'puβlika domini'kana]) is a country located on the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, bordering Haiti. Hispaniola is the second-largest of the Greater Antilles islands, and lies west of Puerto Rico and east of Cuba and Jamaica. A legacy of unsettled, mostly non-representative rule lasted for much of the 20th century; the move towards representative democracy has improved vastly since the death of military dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo in 1961. Dominicans sometimes refer to their country as Quisqueya, a name for Hispaniola used by indigenous Taíno people. The Dominican Republic is not to be confused with Dominica, another Caribbean country.

The indigenous inhabitants of the island of Hispaniola, on which the Dominican Republic is located, were the Taíno Amerindians. The Taínos were a seafaring branch of the South American Arawaks. Taíno means "the good" or "noble" in that native language. A system of cacicazgos (chiefdoms) was in place, and Marien, Maguana, Higuey, Magua and Xaragua (also written as Jaragua) were their names. These chiefdoms were then subdivided into subchiefdoms. The cacicazgos were based on a system of tribute, consisting of the food grown by the Taíno. Among the cultural signs that they left were cave paintings around the country, which have become touristic and nationalistic symbols of the Dominican Republic, and words from their language, including ‘hurricane’ (hurrakan) and ‘tobacco’ (tabakko).

The island was subsequently explored and claimed by Christopher Columbus on his first voyage in 1492, and Hispaniola became a springboard for Spanish conquest of the Caribbean and the American mainland. In 1697, Spain recognized French dominion over the western third of the island, which in 1804 became Haiti. The remainder of the island, by then known as Santo Domingo, sought to gain its own independence in 1821, but was conquered and ruled by the Haitians for 22 years; it finally attained independence as the Dominican Republic in 1844. In 1861, the Dominicans voluntarily returned to the Spanish Empire, but two years later they launched a war that restored independence in 1865. Later the United States ruled Dominican territory with a military government from 1916 to 1924. From 1931 to his assassination in 1961 dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo ruled the Dominican Republic. Since 1965 the nation has still struggled economically.

The capital of the country is the city of Santo Domingo (full name Santo Domingo de Guzman), located in the Southern part of the island. Originally a single city located within the province Distrito Nacional (National District), it has now been divided into a Province of Santo Domingo and the National District. The Province of Santo Domingo is comprised of several municipalities: Santo Domingo Norte (North Santo Domingo), Santo Domingo Este (East Santo Domingo, which is the provincial capital), Santo Domingo Oeste (West Santo Domingo) and Boca Chica. The Ozama River serves a natural border between the National District and the Province of Santo Domingo. Thus the capital city of the Country is the City of Santo Domingo de Guzman, Province of National District. The second largest city is Santiago de los Caballeros, more commonly referred to as simply Santiago.

The country has three major mountain ranges: The Central Mountains (Cordillera Central), which originate in Haiti and span the central part of the island, ending up in the south. This mountain range boasts the highest peak in the Antilles, Pico Duarte (3,087 m / 10,128 ft above sea level). The Septentrional Mountains, running parallel to the Central Mountains, separate the Cibao Valley and the Atlantic coastal plains. The highest point here is Pico Diego de Ocampo. The lowest and shortest of the three ranges is the Eastern Mountains, in the eastern part of the country. There are also the Sierra Bahoruco and the Sierra Neyba in the southwest. This is a country of many rivers, including the navigable Soco, Higuamo, Romana (also known as 'Rio Dulce'), Yaque del Norte, Yaque del Sur, Yuna, Yuma, and Bajabonico. Puerto Plata's Mount. Isabela is famous for the Cuban plane that crashed there in 1992.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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