Welcome to the paradise of the Dominican Republic - spend some unforgettable days or weeks at the Hispaniola island ... become part of the country of the rhythms of Bachata, Merengue, Salsa and Reggeaton.
In the capital, Santo Domingo, you will encounter a peaceful co-existence of modern office towers and the UNESCO-protected colonial town, where narrow streets are lined by lovely houses in sugary colors.
The visitor can enjoy its stay diving in front of the Amber Coast, hiking along numerous crocodile inhabited mangrove forests in the Monte Cristi National Park or climbing the deep canyons of Jarabacoa.
In the east there are the beautiful beaches of Punta Cana, with its fine white sand beaches, or one might visit the dolphins at Manati Park. A vacation in the Dominican Republic also stands for Caribbean food. Enjoying the typical Dominican dish "La Bandera", stewed goat meat, chicken with rice and fried plantains or mussels braised in coconut milk.
Celebrate the evening with ice cold "Cuba Libres" and Caribbean rhythms in the variuos bars and clubs in Santo Domingo, Cabarete, Puerto Plata, Samana, La Romana, Punta Cana and many places more. In February it's worth it to take a close look to the extravagant parades and devilish costumes at the Dominican Carnival or experience the intoxicating rhythms of the Merengue Festival in Santo Domingo in July.
The Dominican Republic has an incredible range of landscapes - from the beautiful sandy beaches along the coast to the "Pico Duarte" to the highest mountain in the interior, rising up with a height of nearly 3100 meters into the Caribbean sky.
On the northern coast of tropical climate prevails with high humidity, fall and winter temperatures never fall below about 21° C. The temperature there is on average at 28° C. The water temperatures in the northern (Atlantic) and south (Caribbean) are year-round at about 26°C to 28°C. The southern climate it less humid. Many regions in the south are in the rain shadows of the Cordillera Central. The temperatures on the coast in the south are comparable to those in the North. Up in the mountains climate is cooler. In the Cordillera Central, as in the 1,400m above sea level situated city Constanza, even in winter temperatures below freezing are possibile. The Dominican Republic is located in the area of influence of tropical cyclones (hurricanes).
The Dominican Republic is almost entirely Spanish speaking. Due to long-standing and ongoing immigration from Haiti, Haitian Creole is spoken by several hundred thousand Haitian immigrants and their descendants. There is a community of about 8,000 english speakers on the Samaná Peninsula. They are the descendants of freed American slaves who arrived in the 19th century. Tourism, American pop culture, the influence of Dominican Americans, and the country's economic ties with the United States motivate other Dominicans to learn English. Off the language spoken in Spain the local language (Castellano) is different and has retained some words and phrases from Spanish colonial times. On the other hand, the language is heavily mixed with Anglo-American expressions.
The territory of the Dominican Republic was part of the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo. 1805, the colony area was occupied by Haiti. 1844, finally fought his way to Santo Domingo's independence. To fend off attempts to reconquer Haiti, the young republic in 1861 submitted to again to the Spanish crown, but gained statehood already in 1865. After several years of unstable democracy the dictator Ulises Heureaux reached for power in 1882. Heureauxs assassination in 1899 was followed by chaos which was ended by the United States in 1916 by means of military intervention. But even after the U.S. withdrawal in 1924 the democratic government still was not sitting firmly in the saddle. Therefore Rafael Trujillo could easily coup to the presidency in 1930. After the assassination of Trujillo elections were held in 1963, won by the progressive politician Juan Bosch, who was overthrown after only seven months in a military coup. In 1964, a civil war broke out, aiming at the the reinstatement of the democratically elected President Juan Bosch. As the revolutionary forces were nearing victory, 1965 the U.S. troops entered the country again and beat down the rebellion with the help of the OAS Organization of American States.
1966 presidential elections were held and the U.S. intervention forces withdrew. Until 1978 the Office of the President was held by Joaquin Balaguer, who also held the presidency from 1986 to 1994. After allegations of vote rigging and international pressure Balaguer had to retreat and was replaced by Leonel Fernández Reyna in 1996.
As a result of the 'Lex Balaguer' (meanwhile dismantled again), a constitutional amendment, which forbidded a direct reelection to the president, in 2000 Balaguer did not line up to the presidential election which finally was won by Hipólito Mejía - again against Balaguer, who lined up at the age of 93 years for the last time.
The presidential elections in 2004 were won again Leonel Fernández, who also lined up in 2008 as a top candidate of his party and managed to decide the choice on the 16th May, 2008 in the first ballot for himself.
Health, social and education
In the urban areas there is a more or less sufficient basic medical care available. Official statistics consider some 4-5% of the dominican population to be infected by the HIV-Virus. According to the definitions of the world bank there is some 10-15% of the dominican population living in poverty, a third up to half of them even living in extreme poverty. A high unemployment (about 30%) and widespread underemployment is the dominant feature in all regions. A large proportion of Dominicans living on transfer payments, which provide the expatriate relatives. Although there is compulsory schooling this is not always guaranteed - especially in rural areas because the nearest school is often too far away. Those who can afford it send their children to one of the more expensive privately governed schools ("colegios"), otherwise to public school ("escuela"). The illiteracy rate measures about 16% of the population. There are universities in Santo Domingo, Santiago de los Caballeros, San Pedro de Macoris and in Higuey. In Santo Domingo is the oldest university in America (1538).
In 2006 the Presidential Office of Information and Communication Technology (OPTIC) has set up a modern call center which is nationwide available via the service phone number "gob" ("462") - short form of "gobierno" = Government and via http://www.optic.gov.do/.
The country is divided into ten regions ("regiones"), which themselves are divided into 31 provinces ("provincias") plus the national district ("Distrito Nacional"), which includes the capital, Santo Domingo de Guzmán.
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