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).