Republica Dominicana, comprises the eastern two thirds of the island of HispanioIa. The country is bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean; on the east by the Mona Passage, which separates it from Puerto Rico; on the south by the Caribbean Sea; and on the west by Haiti. The Dominican Republic has an extreme length in an east to west direction of about 380 km (about 235 mi) and a maximum width, in the west, of about 265km (about 165 mi).
Its area is 48,734 sq km (18,816 sq mi). A number of adjacent islands, among them Beata and Saona, are possessions of the Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo is the capital of the Dominican Republic, as well as its largest city and the official language is the Spanish.
The second largest nation in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles, with Haiti occupying the western portion. Situated in the heart of the region, between North and South America, the country is bathed by the Caribbean Sea on the south coast and the Atlantic Ocean to the north. With a land area of 48,734 square kilometers, it is larger than the Bahamas, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, all the Virgin Islands and the entire French West Indies put together. The Dominican Republic is approximately the size of the US state of Maryland. To the west are Jamaica and Cuba; Puerto Rico is east beyond the 112-kilometer Mona Passage; and the southern tip of Florida is about 1,000 kilometers away. The DR shares a land frontier of 275 kms with Haiti.
The Dominican Republic enjoys a year round privileged tropical maritime climate. It is 17° 36' - 19° 58' minutes north latitude places the DR at the border of the tropical zone.
The country is ideally located close to Puerto Rico and the United States. A plane flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico takes about 40 minutes and less than 3 hours from major American cities, such as New York. A direct flight from Miami is the quickest, with about 2 hours flying time.
Direct flights are also available to parts of Europe, with an average flying time of 8 hours.
The Dominican Republic has a semitropical climate, tempered by the prevailing easterly winds. Temperatures of more than 23.3 C (more than 74 F) are registered in the lowlands throughout the year. During the summer months temperature ranges between 28.7 and 35 C (60 and 95 F) in these regions. It is more likely to rain in May through November. The hurricane season lasts from June through November, with August-September being the peak months.
Prior to Christopher Columbus' arrival on December 5th, 1492 when he made his first settlement in the Americas, the island was inhabited by the Taino Indians. The history of the country was marked by the influence of the Spanish conquistadors, the French, and the African slaves, until independence was proclaimed in 1844 by Juan Pablo Duarte, Ramon Matias Mella and Francisco del Rosario Sanchez the three country's founding fathers. Other historical notes are the occupation of American forces from 1916-24 to ensure payment of the national debt, the 30-year dictatorship of General Rafael Trujillo from 1930-1961 and the Civil War in 1965. Since 1966, the country has been a democracy. The next presidential elections are scheduled for May 16, 2004.
Estimated 8 million. A multi-racial and multi-cultural society of Spanish predominance. (European 16%, African origin 11%, Mixed 73%).
The capital is Santo Domingo (de Guzmán), the oldest and largest city in the Caribbean with a land area of 230 square kilometers and a population of over 2.5 million. Santo Domingo is the second largest city in the Caribbean, after Havana, Cuba.
Other principal cities are Santiago de los Caballeros (500,000), La Vega (225,000), San Francisco de Macorís (175,000), San Cristóbal (160,000), San Pedro de Macorís (150,000), La Romana (140,000), Puerto Plata (130,000), and San Juan de la Maguana (130,000).
Tourism is today the Dominican Republic's primary industry. The country offers a wide choice of accommodations at city, mountain and beach resorts and hotels. Palm-fringed beaches, adventure sports, casinos, year-round events and a rich history and culture, as well as its greatest asset - the hospitable Dominican people - make this country a prime vacation spot for Europeans, North Americans and Latin Americans. Tourism is concentrated in the coastal beach towns to the north, east, southeast, southwest and in the capital city of Santo Domingo. However, there has been an explosion of ecotourism in the interior of the country, with a multiplicity of excursions offering hiking, caving, biking through mountains and countryside.
In 2001, the country drew over two million visitors. With 38,000 rooms at 2001 year's end, the country has the largest hotel plant in the Caribbean.
There are seven international airports in the Dominican Republic; they are in Santo Domingo (Las Américas and Herrera), Puerto Plata, La Romana, Punta Cana, Santiago, and Barahona. A new international airport in Samana is under construction.
In addition to a visa issued by a consulate, all foreigners traveling to the Dominican Republic need to possess a valid passport or equivalent national identity document except those with special permits from the migration authorities. Note, though, that the DR has signed agreements with several countries to allow their nationals to enter without a visa and with only the presentation of proof of citizenship and the purchase of tourist cards.WITHOUT VISA OR TOURIST CARD:
Argentina, Chile, South Korea, Ecuador, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Peru, Liechtenstein, Uruguay.WITH THE USE OF TOURIST CARDS:
A tourist card can be purchased for US$10 at full-service consulates or at Dominican airports at the time of entry. This permits a legal stay of up to 90 days for tourists coming from:
Albania, Andorra, Antigua, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Curaçao, Denmark, Dominica, Finland, France (includes Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Reunion and St. Kitts), Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Ireland, Turks & Caicos Islands, Italy, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Mexico, Monaco, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Russia, San Marino, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Surinam, Trinidad & Tobago, the United States (including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands), Venezuela and Yugoslavia.NOTES:
(1) All legal residents in the United States, Holland, Italy, Canada, Venezuela, Germany, Portugal, Spain, France, Greece, Great Britain, Ireland, Denmark, independently of their nationality, but bearing up to date passports or national identity papers, may enter the country with the purchase of a tourist card.
(2) In the case the person requires a visa and there is not a Dominican consulate in the country of residence, the person should address their request to the nearest possible consulate or Dominican Embassy.
(3) If the person would like to extend the stay in the country, the tourist needs to visit the Migration Department in Santo Domingo and request an extension. Those that do not do so will need to pay a surcharge at the airport upon departure.CREW MEMBERS:
Agents can make arrangements for crew members to enter the country without corresponding visa and purchase of the "Tourist Card" is not necessary.
The official monetary unit is the Dominican peso (RD) divided into 100 centavos. Minted in 1947, it maintains a floating exchange rate with the US dollar and other international currencies. Around RD$17.63 = US$1 (June 2002).