The Dominican Republic (Spanish: República Dominicana) is a Latin American country located in the Greater Antilles archipelago on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. It shares a border with the Republic of Haiti, making it one of two Caribbean islands that are split by two countries; the other is Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten.
Hispaniola is the second-largest of the Greater Antilles islands, and lies west of Puerto Rico and east of Cuba and Jamaica. More than 500 years of mixed lapses of prosperity and turmoil give this island-nation the longest historical record of any of the other country in the Western hemisphere: The Dominican Republic is the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, and became the first point of colonization in the Western Hemisphere by explorers from Europe. The Dominican Republic has the first cathedral and university, as well as the first European-built road and fortress, in the Americas. Santo Domingo (originally New Isabela) was also the first colonial capital in the Americas.
The Dominican Republic is a representative democracy with national powers divided among independent executive, legislative, and judicial branches. the President of the Dominican Republic appoints the cabinet, executes laws passed by the legislative branch, and is commander in chief of the armed forces. The president and vice president run for office on the same ticket and are elected by direct vote for 4-year terms. Legislative power is exercised by a bicameral Congress--the Senate (32 members) and the House of Representatives (178 members).
he Dominican Republic has a multi-party political system with national elections every 2 years (alternating between presidential elections and congressional/municipal elections). Presidential elections are held in years evenly divisible by four. Congressional and municipal elections are held in even numbered years not divisible by four. International observers have found that presidential and congressional elections since 1996 have been generally free and fair. Elections are supervised by a Central Elections Board (JCE) of 9 members chosen for a four-year term by the newly elected Senate. JCE decisions on electoral matters are final.
The Dominican Republic is situated on the eastern part of the second largest island in the Greater Antilles, Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic shares the island roughly at a 2:1 ratio with Haiti. The whole country measures an area of 44,442 km² making it the second largest country in the Antilles after Cuba. The country's mainland has three mountain ranges, those being Cordillera Central (starting from Haiti towards east crossing the island), Cordillera Septentrional, and Cordillera Oriental in the East. In between the Central and Septentrional mountain ranges lies the rich and fertile Cibao valley. This major valley is home to the city of Santiago de los Caballeros and to most of the farming areas in the nation. The country's capital and greatest metropolitan area, Santo Domingo, is located at the southern shore.
The Dominican Republic has the highest peak in the Caribbean named Pico Duarte (3,087 m / 10,128 ft above sea level) and the Biggest lake in the Caribbean named Lake Enriquillo.
The Dominican Republic has many rivers, including the navigable Soco, Higuamo, Romana (also known as 'Rio Dulce'), Yaque del Norte, Yaque del Sur, Yuna River, Yuma, and Bajabonico. The two largest islands near shore are Saona Island in the southeast and Beata Island in the southwest. To the north, at a distance between 100 and 200 km, are three extensive, largely submerged banks, which geographically are a southeast continuation of the Bahamas: Navidad Bank,Silver Bank and Mouchoir Bank. Navidad Bank and Silver Bank have been officially claimed by the Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic uses its rivers and streams to create electricity, and many hydro-electric plants and dams have been created on rivers, including the Bao, Nizao, Ozama, and Higuamo.
The Dominican Republic is an upper middle-income developing country primarily dependent on natural resources and government services. Although the service sector has recently overtaken agriculture as the leading employer of Dominicans (due principally to growth in tourism and Free Trade Zones), agriculture remains the most important sector in terms of domestic consumption and is in second place (behind mining) in terms of export earnings. Tourism accounts for more than $1.3 billion in annual earnings. Free Trade Zone earnings and tourism are the fastest-growing export sectors. Remittances ("remesas") from Dominicans living abroad are estimated to be about $1.3 billion per year.
Following economic turmoil in the late 1980s and 1990, during which the GDP fell by up to 5% and consumer price inflation reached an unprecedented 100%, the Dominican Republic entered a period of moderate growth and declining inflation until 2002 after which the economy entered a recession. This recession followed the collapse of the second commercial bank of the country (Baninter), linked to a major incident of fraud valued at 3.5 billion dollars during the administration of President Hipolito Mejia (2000-2004).
The Baninter fraud had a devastating effect on the Dominican economy, with GDP dropped by 1% in 2003 while inflation ballooned by over 27%. The growth of the Dominican economy remains significantly hampered by an ongoing energy shortage, which causes frequent blackouts and very high prices.
Despite a widening merchandise trade deficit, tourism earnings and remittances have helped build foreign exchange reserves. The Dominican Republic is current on foreign private debt, and has agreed to pay arrears of about $130 million to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation.
According to the 2005 Annual Report of the United Nations Subcommittee on Human Development in the Dominican Republic, the country is ranked #71 in the world for resource availability, # 79 for human development, and #14 in the world for resource mismanagement. These statistics emphasize national government corruption, foreign economic interference in the country, and the rift between the rich and poor.
In the Trimestrial period of Jan-May 2007 the Dominican Economy experienced an exceptional growth of 9.1% in its GDP slightly lower than last years period by 1%. DR-CAFTA(trade agreement) and the Foreign Investment have been one that given great opportunity to the Dominican economy.
The Dominican Republic has become transshipment point for South American drugs to Europe as well as the United States and Canada. Money laundering is favored by Colombia via Dominican Republic for the ease of illicit financial transactions.
The Dominican Republic enjoys a growing economy with CIA World Fact book stating a 10.7% Real growth percentage in 2006 even though Inflation holds at 8.2% in the economy. Enjoying A GDP(PPP) per Capita of $10,300 a relative high in Latin America. Service and the Financial Sector has amounted for this growth in the economy while the Construction Sector makes a big part too of the GDP.
Santo Domingo, the capital of the Republic is the source of most of is GDP and has become one of the leading cities of the Caribbean.
According to the CIA World Fact Book, the ethnic composition of the Dominican population is, 73% of Mixed race, 16% White and 11% Black. Other ethnic groups in the Dominican Republic include Haitians, Germans, Italians, French, Jews, Spaniards, Chinese and Americans. A smaller presence of East Asians (primarily ethnic Chinese and Japanese) and Middle Easterners (primarily Lebanese) can be found throughout the population. The Dominican Republic has a much more elastic definition of what is deemed to be white. It has been said that "Many Dominicans who call themselves "white" have African or near African grandparents.