The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of Hispaniola,
part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean
region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries. Both
by area and population, the Dominican Republic
is the second largest Caribbean nation (after Cuba), with 48,442 square
kilometers and an estimated 10 million people.
Inhabited by Taínos since the 7th century, the territory
of the Dominican Republic
was reached by Christopher Columbus in 1492 and became the site of the first
permanent European settlement in the Americas. After three centuries of
Spanish rule, with French and Haitian interludes, the country became
independent in 1821 but was quickly taken over by Haiti. Victorious in the Dominican
War of Independence in 1844, Dominicans experienced mostly internal strife, and
also a brief return to Spanish rule, over the next 72 years. The United States
occupation of 1916–1924, and a subsequent, calm and prosperous six-year period,
were followed by the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina until
1961. The civil war of 1965, the country's last, was ended by a U.S.-led
intervention, and was followed by the authoritarian rule during1966–1978. Since
then, the Dominican Republic
has moved toward representative democracy.
The Dominican Republic
has the second largest economy in the Caribbean
and Central American region. Though long known for sugar production, the
economy is now dominated by services. The country's economic progress is
exemplified by its advanced telecommunication system. International migration
greatly affects the country, as it receives and sends large flows of migrants.
Haitian immigration and the integration of Dominicans of Haitian descent are
major issues; the total population of Haitian origin is estimated to be 800,000.
A large Dominican diaspora exists, most of it in the United States, where it numbers 1.3
million. They aid national development as they send billions of dollars to
their families, accounting for one-tenth of the Dominican GDP.