Dominican Republic

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República Dominicana

Dominican Republic

Flag of The Dominican Republic
Location of The Dominican Republic
Capital Santo Domingo
Official languages Spanish
Ethnic groups mixed 73%, white 16%, black 11%
Currency Dominican Peso (DOP)
Exchange Rates USD CAD EUR GBP
Monthly Minimum Wage RD$1,906/month government sector, RD$3,561/month free-trade-zones, RD$4,920/month private sector, RD$130/day farming.
HIV Percentage 1.7% (2003 est.)
Time zone AST (UTC-4)
DST AST (UTC-4)
Electricity Electrical current is 110 volts AC, 60 Hz. American style two-pin plugs are standard.
Internet TLD [[cctld:=.do]]
Calling code +809

The Dominican Republic, (Spanish: República Dominicana), 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.

Dominicans sometimes refer to their country as Quisqueya, a name for Hispaniola used by indigenous Taíno people meaning "high land", referring to the highest portion of the island of Hispaniola. The Dominican Republic is not to be confused with Dominica, another Caribbean country.

Demographics

According to the CIA World Factbook, about 73% of all Dominicans are of mixed race, that is, of mixed European, African, and Taino indigenous American ancestry. Around 16% of Dominicans are of Spanish and European descent and about 11% are Black. Other white groups in the Dominican Republic include Germans, Italians, French, and white Americans.

A smaller presence of East Asians ethnic Chinese and Japanese and Middle Easterners (primarily Lebanese) can also be found. The culturally indigenous Taino population is blended into the culture and considered to be the common tie that binds.

Economic problems have led to a vast migration of Dominicans to the United States, mainly to large east coast cities. New York City's Washington Heights in the borough of Manhattan is so densely populated by Dominicans that it is sometimes referred to as Quisqueya Heights. Quisqueya is a popular name for Hispaniola that derives from the island's original Arawak name. Sizeable Dominican emigre communities also exist in Spain.

Religious affiliation 
Roman Catholic 95%, other 5%
Largest cities 
Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Santo Domingo Este, Santiago de los Caballeros, and Puerto Plata.

see also List of cities in the Dominican Republic

Country Executive Monger Summary

Overview

The Dominican Republic is a country with a high unemployment rate and low wages leading many women to prostitution. This combined with "loose" moral values compared to other Latinos equals many opportunites for single men with non-pros or semi-pros.

Prostitution Laws

Policy: There are no laws prohibiting prostitution in the Penal Code. But it is illegal to live off the earnings of prostitution.

Practice: Prostitution is in many urban areas as many women fail to find other employment. Police occasionally crack down on massage palours and night clubs in major cities, and on prostitutes in tourist areas usually around elections or with changes in local government.

Read more at Dominican Republic Sexuality.

Practicalities

International Airports:
Visas:
  • Tourist Visas can be obtained on arrival for a fee of US$10, which must be paid in US Dollars. The tourist visa is good for 10 days but the fees are minimal for staying longer. A valid passport is required for all travelers now except Canadians who can use an original Birth Certificate or Naturalisation papers (with an official photo ID document).
  • There is a departure tax of US$20, but this is usually included in the ticket price except for certain charters.
Transport:
  • There is no rail service within the Dominican Republic.
  • There are two major bus companies that run between stations in major cities that operate from approximately 07:00 to 20:00. There are also several smaller companies serving provinces.
  • There are many smaller buses (guaguas) that hold anywhere from 10-20 people that travel routes on major streets and roadways making stops along the way. There is a driver and a conductor who hangs out the door attracting fares and providing route information. Just stand by the road and raise your hand, it is best to give advanced notice of where you want to get off since traffic can be crazy.
  • Public taxis (Carro publicos/conchos) are usually Toyota or Honda sedans where upwards of 7 people will share a ride, they usually have stickers on the doors indicating their routes.
  • Motoconchos are availible everywhere and are small (~150cc) motorcycles providing cheap but dangerous transportation in the cities and countryside (campo). They are also available in tourist towns providing short taxi service for RD$10-50.
  • Hitchhiking is also very popular and it is usually customary to provide some gas money to the driver. If you rent a car this is a great way to meet chicas!
  • Car rental agencies (major brands and local) are available in all of the airports and many cities and towns, but driving is very dangerous in the Dominican Republic since traffic laws are rarely followed and almost never followed at night.
Communications:
  • The Dominican Republic is the number one country in the Caribbean in the communications section. They have extensive mobile phone services and land line services. The telecommunication's regulator in the country is INDOTEL, Instituto Dominicano De Telecomunicaciones. The Dominican Republic offers cable internet and DSL in most parts of the country, and many ISPs provide 3G Wireless Internet Service. Projects to extend Wi-Fi hot spots have been made in Santo Domingo.
  • On February 1st 2007, Verizon changed the names of its services to Claro and Codetel. The company has been owned since 2006 by Carlos Slim Helú's América Móvil. Claro is now the official name of what has been known as Verizon Wireless and Codetel (the original Compañia Dominicana de Teléfonos) is the updated name for the Verizon fixed-line market.
  • Cellular companies
Health:
  • No vaccination certificates are required but precautions are recommended against Hepatitis A, typhoid, rabies and polio for those who plan to spend time outside the main tourist resort areas. There is a malaria risk throughout the year. Between May and September there is a risk of dengue fever, which is contracted from mosquitoes that bite during the day. It is advisable to use mosquito repellent.
Language:
  • Spanish is the official language but English is sometimes spoken in the tourist areas.
    • It is often said a chicas knowledge of English is proportionate to the time she has spent on her back.
    • Also be wary of Dominicans that speak perfect English they are most likely convicted felons that were deported from the US after serving jail time.
Tipping:
  • Hotels and restaurants include a 10% service charge as well as tax, but additional tips can be given for good service as often the charge does not go to the staff who provided the service. Waiters usually receive 10% extra for good service. For other services including taxi drivers tipping is discretionary depending on the service provided.
Other Info:
  • Christopher Columbus' legacy in the "New World" is so controversial that many people in the Dominican Republic, which claims to be his final resting place, believe it is bad luck to mention his name.
  • Don't be a sucker, many Dominicans will see it as a sign of weakness!

Summary of Conclusions

  • Strengths: The Dominican Republic is a cheap tourist destination close to the US and has cheap charter flights from Europe.
  • Weaknesses: Third-world standard outside of tourist areas, health hazards and risks, corruption, and poorly maintained roads (pot holes).

Cities with Executive Monger Summaries

Administrative divisions

The Dominican Republic is divided into 31 provinces. Additionally, the national capital, Santo Domingo, is contained within its own Distrito Nacional. Please note that the names of provincial capital cities are provided in parentheses where they differ from the name of their respective provinces.

The provinces are divided into municipalities (municipios singular municipio). They are the second level political and administrative subdivisions of the country.

Map of the provinces of the Dominican Republic.
  1. Azua
  2. Bahoruco (Neyba)
  3. Barahona
  4. Dajabón
  5. Duarte (San Francisco de Macorís)
  6. Elías Piña (Comendador)
  7. El Seybo (Santa Cruz del Seibo)
  8. Espaillat (Moca)
  9. Hato Mayor
  10. Independencia (Jimaní)
  11. La Altagracia (Higüey)
  12. La Romana
  13. La Vega
  14. María Trinidad Sánchez (Nagua)
  15. Monseñor Nouel (Bonao)
  16. Monte Cristi
  1. Monte Plata
  2. Pedernales
  3. Peravia (Baní)
  4. Puerto Plata
  5. Salcedo
  6. Samaná
  7. Sánchez Ramírez (Cotuí)
  8. San Cristóbal
  9. San José de Ocoa
  10. San Juan
  11. San Pedro de Macorís
  12. Santiago
  13. Santiago Rodríguez (Sabaneta)
  14. Santo Domingo
  15. Valverde (Mao)
    D.N.*

* The national capital, also known as Distrito Nacional (D.N.), is the city of Santo Domingo de Guzmán.

Geography

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 the 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 Distrito Nacional. 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 (3,087m / 10,128ft 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.

The Dominican Republic includes many rivers, including the navigable Soco, Higuamo, Romana (also known as 'Rio Dulce'), Yaque del Norte, Yaque del Sur, Yuna River, Yuma, and Bajabonico. Puerto Plata's Mount Isabela is infamous for the Cuban plane that crashed there in 1992.

The two largest islands, nearshore, 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.

The Dominican Republic uses its rivers and streams as a way to create electricity and many hydro-electric plants and dams have been created on rivers, including The Bao, Nizao, Ozama, and Higuamo.

Navidad Bank and Silver Bank have been officially claimed by the Dominican Republic.

Climate

The country is a tropical maritime nation, with a wet season from May to November, and periodic hurricanes between June and November. Most rain falls in the northern and eastern regions. The average rainfall is 1346 mm, with extremes of 2500 mm in the northeast and 500 mm in the west. The mean annual temperature ranges from 21°C in the mountainous regions to 25°C on the plains and the coast. The average temperature in Santo Domingo in January is 23.9°C and 27.2°C in July.

Environment

The terrain consists of rugged highlands and mountains with fertile valleys interspersed.

Environmental issues in the Dominican Republic
  • Deforestation
  • Solid fuels
  • Emissions
  • Endangered species
  • Water contamination

Politics

The politics of the Dominican Republic take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of the Dominican Republic is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of the National Congress. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Economy

The Dominican Republic is a middle-income developing country primarily dependent on trade, and services, especially tourism. 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 $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 $3 billion per year.

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, #94 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.

Illegal immigration

In recent decades, illegal immigration from Haiti has dramatically increased as the Dominican economy improves and the Haitian economy remains virtually moribund. Most Haitian immigrants work at low-paying, unskilled labor jobs, including construction work and household cleaning. Current estimates put the Haitian population in the Dominican Republic as high as 1 million.

Culture

The Dominican Republic is a Hispanic country. Thus, as with all Hispanic countries in the Americas, its culture has many elements that originate in Spain but also the culture is blended with African and indigenous American cultural elements. Castilian Spanish is the national language, but other languages such as English, French, German and Italian are present. African cultural elements are most prominent in musical expressions and the carnival vibe of life, testimony to the rich African heritage that existed before and after slavery. Taino cultural elements exist mostly in foods such as casabe (a type of tortilla but made using casava instead of corn) and language. There are also more recent Antillean and Anglo-American influences. Near the border between Haiti and Dominican Republic, some people practice santaria.

Eighty-nine percent of Dominicans are baptised in the Roman Catholic Church. Other substantial religious groups are the Evangelical Christians and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Around one percent of the nation's inhabitants practice pure spiritism.

Every year, tens of thousands of Catholics make the pilgrimage to Higuey to celebrate the Virgin de la Altagracia in late January. The main historical element in Higuey is the cathedral, home of the "Virgin de la Altagracia," a painting brought by the Spaniards in the late 15th century

Holidays

Date Name Notes
January 1 New Year's Day
January 6 Catholic Day of the Epiphany (Move the holiday to the next Monday)
January 21 Virgen de la Altagracia Day (Catholic)
January 26 Duarte's day Founding Father (Move the holiday to the next Monday)
February 27 Independence Day National Day
April 6 Catholic Good Friday Date for 2007 only
May 1 Labour Day
June 7 Catholic Corpus Christi Date for 2007 only
August 16 Restoration Day National Day
September 24 Catholic Virgen de las Mercedes Day Patroness' day
November 6 Constitution Day National Day
December 25 Christmas Day (Jesus' birthday).

Cuisine

Dominican culture can be traced back to Spain and Africa and so can the food. Popular meals in the Dominican Republic can be typical rice and beans (locally referred to as Bandera Dominicana (Dominican Flag)), with chicken or meat as the main meal. Another popular dish is sanchoco, a stew with many ingredients.

Dominicans eat an extensive amount of tropical fruits like Plantain, Bananas, Coconuts and other foods like Casabe. Their Tropical spices have many influences from the Taínos.

North American Influence meals are found in the nation too. Fast food chains like McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, and Baja Fresh have become of growing popularity in the Dominican lifestyle. Dominicans eat a variety of foods and as a tropical nation they are capable of producing almost everything.

Music

The Dominican Republic is known for a form of music called Merengue, which has been popular since the mid- to late-1900s. Its syncopated beats use Latin percussion, brass instruments, bass and piano or keyboard. What was considered unpopular to the youth, until today, is a form of folk music called Bachata. Bachata is usually slow, romantic, and Spanish guitar-driven. However, bachata's rhythm can be sped up to the same syncopation as Merengue, and it is called bacharengue. Both genres of music are popular throughout the world, especially bachata thanks to "Aventura" and merengue thanks to the father of bachata "Juan Luis Guerra".

Dominican culture is heavily based on music. Some major international exponents include Juan Luis Guerra, Milly Quezada, Sergio Vargas, and Johnny Ventura. In recent years, many young artists have also emerged such as Alih Jey and Carlo Silver, and in the bachata genre, Antony Santos, Frank Reyes, Raulin Rodriguez, Aventura and Monchy y Alexandra.

Merengue is a type of lively, joyful music and dance that comes from the Dominican Republic. Merengue means whipped egg whites and sugar in Spanish, like the English word meringue. It is unclear why this became the name of the music of the Dominican Republic. This style of music was created by Ñico Lora in the 1920s; however, it was promoted by General Rafael Trujillo, the republic's military dictator from the 1930s until 1960, and became the country's national music and dance style. World-famous Merengue singers include Miriam Cruz & Las Chicas Del Can, Juan Luis Guerra, Wilfrido Vargas, Sergio Vargas, Johnny Ventura, Chichi Peralta, Kinito Mendez, Ravel, Jossie Esteban y la Patrulla 15, Pochy y su Cocoband, Fernando Villalona, Cuco Valoy, The Freddie Kenton Orquestra, and Conjunto Quisqueya. Other artists popular in the Dominican Republic as of 2006 include Julian, Toño Rosario, Aguakate and Amarfis. Milly Quezada is considered the Queen of Merengue.

Sports

Baseball is by far the most popular sport in the Dominican Republic and there are many famous Dominicans who play Major League Baseball in the U.S., including Albert Pujols, Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martínez, David Ortiz, Jose Reyes, Rafael Furcal, Vladimir Guerrero, Miguel Tejada, and Manny Ramirez. The Dominican Republic also has its own baseball league which runs from October to January. Many MLB players and minor leaguers play in this six-team league during off-season. As such, the Dominican winter league serves as an important "training ground" for the MLB.

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