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Dominican Republic Information - Page 2
Taino Indians, from the American mainland, lived on the island of Hispaniola many hundreds of years before colonization by Spain.

Columbus landed on Hispaniola in 1492. Soon after, Santo Domingo was founded becoming the first Spanish Colony in the Americas.

The Taino Indians did not survive Spanish occupation for long: many died from unfamiliar diseases brought to the island by the Spanish; others died in slavery. At the beginning of the sixteenth century African slaves were brought to Santo Domingo to replace the Indian slaves in the plantations.

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, under the Treaty of Ryswick, the island of Hispaniola was divided between Spain and France. Santo Domingo remained Spanish but the western part of Hispaniola (Haiti) went to France.

During the next century the French, Spanish and the British fought over Hispaniola.

In 1795 Saint Domingo was ceded to France but Spain retook the Colony in 1808. A revolt against the Spanish (1821) was followed by a short period of independence.

Between 1822 and 1844 Santo Domingo was annexed by Haiti.

In 1844 Santo Domingo proclaimed independence and became the Dominican Republic. However in the early 1860s the Dominican Republic returned to Spanish rule during a period of economic instability.

Independence was regained, and the second Dominican Republic declared in 1865.

At the beginning of the twentieth century the USA negotiated a fifty-year Treaty allowing the US to take responsibility for the Dominican Republic's debts and manage the Republic's customs department. Internal disorder in 1916 led to the occupation of the Republic by US forces. In 1924 the US withdrew its forces from the island.

Six years later General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina took control of the country. Trujillo's power lasted thirty years until his assassination in 1961.

Following the Trujillo dictatorship, the Dominican Republic underwent a period of political turmoil: in 1963, Juan Bosch, the elected leader was deposed by a coup and 1965 saw civil war and US occupation.

Since 1966 a number of Presidents have been elected with Joaquin Balaguer serving as the leader of the Dominican Republic between 1966 to 1978 and 1986 to 1996.

The economy of the Dominican Republic is one of the fastest growing in the region. The country has a service economy; tourism is of major importance to the Republic. The construction industry has also benefited from the growth in tourism.

Other industries include mining, cement, textiles, tobacco and sugar processing.

The agricultural sector, once the mainstay of the economy, produces cocoa, coffee, sugarcane, corn, bananas, beans, potatoes, rice, dairy products, tobacco and cotton. Livestock is reared.

Remittances are sent home to the Dominican Republic from family members working in the USA and Puerto Rico. (2011)

The Dominican Republic is well represented in the arts.

The Teatro Nacional in Santo Domingo is the venue for ballet, opera, concerts and theatre.

Museums include the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Dominican Man and the Pre-Hispanic Art Museum.

Popular dance music in the Dominican Republic is meringue. Bands known as "perico ripiao" play meringue music which is often combined with other musical styles.

In the world of literature, the famous writer Manuel de Jesus Galvan (1834-1910) wrote the novel Enriquillo, a story about resistance to the Spanish conquerors.

Baseball is the main team sport in the Dominican Republic. There are five professional league teams and a number of players are recruited for teams in the USA and Japan.

Swimming at the public beaches is popular. Other water sports include scuba diving, windsurfing and jet-skiing.

Christmas, Easter and religious holidays are celebrated in the Dominican Republic. Other holidays include New Year's Day - 1 January, Independence Day - 27 February (from Haiti), Labour Day - 1 May, and the Restoration of Independence - 16 August.

News from the Dominican Republic is available from Newslink.

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