Crisscrossed by rivers and lakes, covered in rain and dry forest and a central spine of high-rising mountains, the country’s sheer diversity makes all the difference. The tropical climate lends itself to outdoor activity all year round.
Located on the eastern two-thirds of the second largest island in the region,“Hispaniola” is located in the Antilles archipelago and is the perfect paradise on which to vacation in the Caribbean.
The Dominican Republic occupies two thirds of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti. It is located between the Atlantic ocean (to the north) and the Caribbean sea (to the south), forming part of the tropic of Cancer. Its borders to the east include the Mona Passage, making it an ideal fishing destination. And to the west, is the Republic of Haiti. Its geographic coordinates are 17º 36’-19º 58’ latitude north and 68º 19’-72º 01’ latitude west. Dominican Republic boasts nearly 1,000 miles of coastline
Due to its large size of 30,000m2 (77,700 km2) including many adjacent islands, the Dominican Republic occupies second place in terms of size, within the Greater Antilles after Cuba. It is 178 miles (286 km) from north to south and 242 miles (389 km) from east to west. The surrounding islands include: Saona, Beata, Catalina and Alto Velo. The Dominican Republic has very accentuated topography, 50 percent of which is taken up by five mountain ranges and three large mountain chains. Within these is the Cordillera Central mountain range where the highest point of the Antilles is located, the Duarte peak at 10,417 feet (3,175 meters). The remaining surface area of the national territory is made up of four large valleys, the main one being Valle del Cibao.
Its hydrography is made up of various lakes, lagoons and rivers, some of which have become very significant tourist attractions. For example, on the Southwest Coast of the Dominican Republic, Lake Enriquillo is the lowest point in all of the Caribbean. The Dominican Republic boasts nearly 1,000 miles (1,609 meters) of beautiful coastline and beaches along the North, Northeast, East and South Coasts.
Due to its ideal position in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic’s tropical climate is influenced by various geographic factors, such as the orography and influence of the trade winds. It has an average annual temperature of 77F (25C), and a high of about 93F (34C) registered between the months of June until August. Normal lows are about 66 F (19C) in the winter (December through February). In the mountainous areas, temperatures have dipped as low as 41F (5C).
The Dominican Republic is rich in culture, history and beauty. The walls and the cobble stoned streets of its emblematic Colonial City bear witness to the richness of its past as the first city founded in the Americas.
It was more than 500 years ago that the Dominican Republic began to write its history. The island was first inhabited by the Taino Indians, one of the most peaceful peoples of the continent, who lived through hunting, fishing and agriculture. Their influence is still present in the culture and gastronomy. Then on December 5, 1492, Admiral Christopher Columbus arrived on the island and named it Hispaniola, an act which determined the meeting of two cultures and which later made Santo Domingo the first city in the Americas.
Towards the end of the XVII century, the French colonized the western part of the island. In 1795, Spain ceded the eastern part to France, leaving the island under French power. After having suffered dominion by the French, the colony returned to Spanish hands, until a group of men led by José Núñez de Cáceres proclaimed Ephemeral Independence in December 1821.
But in January 1822, taking advantage of the military and economic weakness of the eastern part of the island, the Haitians invaded this territory and imposed their rule for 22 years. Then on February 27, 1844, the fight for independence was led by Juan Pablo Duarte and the new Dominican Republic was born.
Despite the cry for independence, on March 18, 1861 the republic was once again annexed by Spain until after the Restoration War, which was led by Gregorio Luperón in 1863. The resulting political unrest resulted in economic chaos. The arrangement of multiple loans from the United States and Europe allowed the Dominican government to deliver the administration and control of its customs to the United States in 1907, and in 1916 the first North American invasion of the country took place.
Following the invasion, various unstable governments followed until the iron dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo was established in 1930. He remained in power for 30 years until he was executed in 1961. Then a provisional government organized the first free elections, which in 1962 took the eminent politician and writer Juan Bosch to the presidency. He was overthrown seven months later, resulting in a civil war led by Francisco Alberto Caamaño and which would then culminate in the second North American invasion in 1965.
In 1966, Joaquín Balaguer was elected and began 12 years of government that were characterized by political repression. In 1978, the country returned to the polls and Balaguer lost overwhelmingly, leaving the Dominican Revolutionary Party (the PRD) to assume power under Antonio Guzmán, which is how Dominican democracy began its path to power. In 1982, the PRD won again under the lead of Salvador Jorge Blanco. But in 1986, Balaguer once again gained the Presidency of the Government with a majority vote, remaining in power until 1996.
The 1996 election was won by Doctor Leonel Fernández of the Party for Dominican Liberation (PLD). Then in 2000, the PRD candidate Hipólito Mejía became president. In 2004, the people returned to the polls to give the PLD and Leonel Fernández victory, who once again began a new presidential term in 2008.
The Dominican Republic is one of the few countries in the region that has nine distinct Ecological zones. This natural diversity provides an unequalled opportunity for visitors to take part in exciting and extraordinary adventure tourism and ecotourism.
In the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic has the highest and lowest points above and below sea level. Duarte Peak rises two miles (3,187 meters) within the Cordillera Central Mountain chain, while Lake Enriquillo is 45 yards (42 meters) below sea level, which has great influence on the salinity of the latter. Both in the upper reaches of the country, as well in the plains, there are a large variety of areas where nature expresses itself in different and extreme forms, from luscious tropical forests through to arid deserts.
Each area offers multiple adventure and ecotourism activities that will enliven the senses. Thrilling adventures include mountain- climbing, horseback-riding, river rafting, trekking or hiking destinations such as Jarabacoa and Constanza; or destinations of untouched beaches and geological depressions, lagoons, dunes and desert areas, such as Pedernales, Bahoruco, Bani, Azua and Barahona; or resorts for diving, windsurfing and kite boarding, jeep safaris, waterfalls and observation of humpback whales, such as on the northeast coast, Puerto Plata, Cabarete and Samaná.
Flora and Fauna
If you are a lover of wonderful nature, you should know that the flora and fauna of the country is immensely rich in variety and species.
Dominican flora includes more than five thousand plants, many of which are endemic and can only be found in the Dominican Republic. Among the endemic species are the royal palm and the pine, while within the native species there is tobacco, pineapple, the kapok, and the mahogany tree, among others.
Dominican Republic fauna is characterized by the greatest diversity of the whole Antilles region. There exists 254 species of birds of which 22 are in danger of extinction. Species of reptile include 1,411, among which highlighted are the American crocodile, the Ricord iguana, the hutia and the solenodon, these last two are also in danger of extinction. There are also some 60 species of amphibians, as well as mammals; the Antilles manatee and the humpback whale.