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Dominican Republic Country Information

Travel Advice with Country Information from the CIA.

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Dominican Republic Map

Introduction

Background

The Taino - indigenous inhabitants of Hispaniola prior to the arrival of the Europeans - divided the island into five chiefdoms and territories. Christopher COLUMBUS explored and claimed the island on his first voyage in 1492; it became a springboard for Spanish conquest of the Caribbean and the American mainland. In 1697, Spain recognized French dominion over the western third of the island, which in 1804 became Haiti. The remainder of the island, by then known as Santo Domingo, sought to gain its own independence in 1821 but was conquered and ruled by the Haitians for 22 years; it finally attained independence as the Dominican Republic in 1844. In 1861, the Dominicans voluntarily returned to the Spanish Empire, but two years later they launched a war that restored independence in 1865. A legacy of unsettled, mostly non-representative rule followed, capped by the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas TRUJILLO from 1930 to 1961. Juan BOSCH was elected president in 1962 but was deposed in a military coup in 1963. In 1965, the US led an intervention in the midst of a civil war sparked by an uprising to restore BOSCH. In 1966, Joaquin BALAGUER defeated BOSCH in the presidential election. BALAGUER maintained a tight grip on power for most of the next 30 years when international reaction to flawed elections forced him to curtail his term in 1996. Since then, regular competitive elections have been held in which opposition candidates have won the presidency. Former President Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna (first term 1996-2000) won election to a new term in 2004 following a constitutional amendment allowing presidents to serve more than one term, and was later reelected to a second consecutive term. Following the two-term presidency of Danilo MEDINA Sanchez (2012-2020), Luis Rodolfo ABINADER Corona was elected president in July 2020.

Geography

Location

Caribbean, eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Haiti

Geographic coordinates

19 00 N, 70 40 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean

Area

total: 48,670 sq km

land:48,320 sq km

water:350 sq km

country comparison to the world: 131

Area - comparative

slightly more than twice the size of New Jersey

Land boundaries

total: 376 km

border countries (1):Haiti 376 km

Coastline

1,288 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone:24 nm

exclusive economic zone:200 nm

continental shelf:200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin

measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines

Climate

tropical maritime; little seasonal temperature variation; seasonal variation in rainfall

Terrain

rugged highlands and mountains interspersed with fertile valleys

Elevation

highest point: Pico Duarte 3,098 m

lowest point:Lago Enriquillo -46 m

mean elevation:424 m

Natural resources

nickel, bauxite, gold, silver, arable land

Land use

agricultural land: 51.5% (2018 est.)

arable land: 16.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 10.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 24.8% (2018 est.)

forest:40.8% (2018 est.)

other:7.7% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

3,070 sq km (2012)

Total renewable water resources

23.5 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Population distribution

coastal development is significant, especially in the southern coastal plains and the Cibao Valley, where population density is highest; smaller population clusters exist in the interior mountains (Cordillera Central)

Natural hazards

lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding; periodic droughts

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified:none of the selected agreements

Geography - note

shares island of Hispaniola with Haiti (eastern two-thirds makes up the Dominican Republic, western one-third is Haiti); the second largest country in the Antilles (after Cuba); geographically diverse with the Caribbean's tallest mountain, Pico Duarte, and lowest elevation and largest lake, Lago Enriquillo

People and Society

Population

10,597,348 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 87

Nationality

noun: Dominican(s)

adjective:Dominican

Ethnic groups

mixed 70.4% (Mestizo/Indio 58%, Mulatto 12.4%), Black 15.8%, White 13.5%, other 0.3% (2014 est.)

note: respondents self-identified their race; the term "indio" in the Dominican Republic is not associated with people of indigenous ancestry but people of mixed ancestry or skin color between light and dark

Languages

Spanish (official)

printed major-language sample:
La Libreta Informativa del Mundo, la fuente indispensable de información básica. (Spanish)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Religions

Roman Catholic 47.8%, Protestant 21.3%, other 2.2%, none 28%, don't know/no response 0.7% (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Dominican Republic

conventional short form:The Dominican

local long form:Republica Dominicana

local short form:La Dominicana

etymology:the country name derives from the capital city of Santo Domingo (Saint Dominic)

Government type

presidential republic

Capital

name: Santo Domingo

geographic coordinates:18 28 N, 69 54 W

time difference:UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: named after Saint Dominic de Guzman (1170-1221), founder of the Dominican Order

Administrative divisions

10 regions (regiones, singular - region); Cibao Nordeste, Cibao Noroeste, Cibao Norte, Cibao Sur, El Valle, Enriquillo, Higuamo, Ozama, Valdesia, Yuma

Independence

27 February 1844 (from Haiti)

National holiday

Independence Day, 27 February (1844)

Constitution

history: many previous (38 total); latest proclaimed 13 June 2015

amendments:proposed by a special session of the National Congress called the National Revisory Assembly; passage requires at least two-thirds majority approval by at least one half of those present in both houses of the Assembly; passage of amendments to constitutional articles, such as fundamental rights and guarantees, territorial composition, nationality, or the procedures for constitutional reform, also requires approval in a referendum

Legal system

civil law system based on the French civil code; Criminal Procedures Code modified in 2004 to include important elements of an accusatory system

International law organization participation

accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt jurisdiction

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only:at least one parent must be a citizen of the Dominican Republic

dual citizenship recognized:yes

residency requirement for naturalization:2 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal and compulsory; married persons regardless of age can vote; note - members of the armed forces and national police by law cannot vote

Executive branch

chief of state: President Luis Rodolfo ABINADER Corona (since 16 August 2020); Vice President Raquel PENA de Antuna (since 16 August 2020); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

head of government:President Luis Rodolfo ABINADER Corona (since 16 August 2020); Vice President Raquel PENA de Antuna (since 16 August 2020); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government

cabinet:Cabinet nominated by the president

elections/appointments:president and vice president directly elected on the same ballot by absolute vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 4-year term (eligible for a maximum of two consecutive terms); election last held on 5 July 2020 (next to be held in 2024); note - the 2020 election was rescheduled from 17 May to 5 July 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic

election results:
2020: Luis Rodolfo ABINADER Corona elected president in first round; percent of vote - Luis Rodolfo ABINADER Corona (PRM) 52.5%, Gonzalo CASTILLO Terrero (PLD) 37.5%, Leonel Antonio FERNANDEZ Reyna (FP) 8.9% other 1.1%

2016: Danilo MEDINA Sanchez reelected president; percent of vote - Danilo MEDINA Sanchez (PLD) 61.7%, Luis Rodolfo ABINADER Corona (PRM) 35%, other 3.3%; Margarita CEDENO DE FERNANDEZ (PLD) reelected vice president

Legislative branch

description: bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of:
Senate or Senado (32 seats; note - electoral system changes by the Central Election Commission are being challenged by the ruling party and opposition)
House of Representatives or Camara de Diputados (190 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)

elections:
Senate - last held on 5 July 2020 (next to be held 2024)
House of Representatives - last held on 5 July 2020 (next to be held in 2024); note - the 2020 election was rescheduled from 17 May to 5 July 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic

election results:
Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRM 17, PLD 6, PRSC 6, BIS 1, DXC 1, FP 1
House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRM 86, PLD 75,  PRSC 6, PRD 4, Broad Front 3, FP 3, AP 2, APD 2, BIS 2, DXC 2, other 5

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court of Justice or Suprema Corte de Justicia (consists of a minimum of 16 magistrates); Constitutional Court or Tribunal Constitucional (consists of 13 judges); note - the Constitutional Court was established in 2010 by constitutional amendment

judge selection and term of office:Supreme Court and Constitutional Court judges appointed by the National Council of the Judiciary comprised of the president, the leaders of both chambers of congress, the president of the Supreme Court, and a non-governing party congressional representative; Supreme Court judges appointed for 7-year terms; Constitutional Court judges appointed for 9-year terms

subordinate courts:courts of appeal; courts of first instance; justices of the peace; special courts for juvenile, labor, and land cases; Contentious Administrative Court for cases filed against the government

Political parties and leaders

Alliance for Democracy or APD
Broad Front (Frente Amplio) [Fidel SANTANA]
Country Alliance or AP [Guillermo Antonio MORENO Garcia]
Dominican Liberation Party or PLD [Danilo MEDINA Sánchez]
Dominican Revolutionary Party or PRD [Miguel VARGAS Maldonado]
Dominicans For Change or DXC [Manuel OVIEDO Estrada]
Institutional Social Democratic Bloc or BIS
Liberal Reformist Party or PRL (formerly the Liberal Party of the Dominican Republic or PLRD)
Modern Revolutionary Party or PRM [Jose Ignacio PALIZA]
National Progressive Front or FNP [Vinicio CASTILLO, Pelegrin CASTILLO]
People's Force or FP [Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna]
Social Christian Reformist Party or PRSC [Federico ANTUN]

International organization participation

ACP, AOSIS, BCIE, Caricom (observer), CD, CELAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAES, LAIA, MIGA, MINUSMA, NAM, OAS, OIF (observer), OPANAL, OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, Petrocaribe, SICA (associated member), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Sonia GUZMAN (since 18 January 2021)

chancery:1715 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone:[1] (202) 332-6280, 660-2263

FAX:[1] (202) 265-8057

consulate(s) general:Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Mayaguez (Puerto Rico), Miami, New Orleans, New York, San Juan (Puerto Rico)

consulate(s):San Francisco

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Robin BERNSTEIN (since 6 September 2018)

telephone:[1] (809) 567-7775

embassy:Av. Republica de Colombia # 57, Santo Domingo

mailing address:Unit 5500, APO AA 34041-5500

FAX:[1] (809) 686-7437

Flag description

a centered white cross that extends to the edges divides the flag into four rectangles - the top ones are ultramarine blue (hoist side) and vermilion red, and the bottom ones are vermilion red (hoist side) and ultramarine blue; a small coat of arms featuring a shield supported by a laurel branch (left) and a palm branch (right) is at the center of the cross; above the shield a blue ribbon displays the motto, DIOS, PATRIA, LIBERTAD (God, Fatherland, Liberty), and below the shield, REPUBLICA DOMINICANA appears on a red ribbon; in the shield a bible is opened to a verse that reads "Y la verdad nos hara libre" (And the truth shall set you free); blue stands for liberty, white for salvation, and red for the blood of heroes

National symbol(s)

palmchat (bird); national colors: red, white, blue

National anthem

name: "Himno Nacional" (National Anthem)

lyrics/music:Emilio PRUD'HOMME/Jose REYES

note: adopted 1934; also known as "Quisqueyanos valientes" (Valient Sons of Quisqueye); the anthem never refers to the people as Dominican but rather calls them "Quisqueyanos," a reference to the indigenous name of the island

This is an audio of the National Anthem for Dominican Republic. The national anthem is generally a patriotic musical composition - usually in the form of a song or hymn of praise - that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions, or struggles of a nation or its people. National anthems can be officially recognized as a national song by a country's constitution or by an enacted law, or simply by tradition. Although most anthems contain lyrics, some do not.:

Economy

Economic overview

The Dominican Republic was for most of its history primarily an exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, but over the last three decades the economy has become more diversified as the service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy's largest employer, due to growth in construction, tourism, and free trade zones. The mining sector has also played a greater role in the export market since late 2012 with the commencement of the extraction phase of the Pueblo Viejo Gold and Silver mine, one of the largest gold mines in the world.

For the last 20 years, the Dominican Republic has been one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. The economy rebounded from the global recession in 2010-16, and the fiscal situation is improving. A tax reform package passed in November 2012, a reduction in government spending, and lower energy costs helped to narrow the central government budget deficit from 6.6% of GDP in 2012 to 2.6% in 2016, and public debt is declining. Marked income inequality, high unemployment, and underemployment remain important long-term challenges; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GDP, while the richest 10% enjoys nearly 40% of GDP.

The economy is highly dependent upon the US, the destination for approximately half of exports and the source of 40% of imports. Remittances from the US amount to about 7% of GDP, equivalent to about a third of exports and two-thirds of tourism receipts. The Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement came into force in March 2007, boosting investment and manufacturing exports.

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 1,211,081

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:11.65 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 70

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 8,948,107

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:86.05 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 91

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the Dominican Republic’s fixed-line tele-density is well below the Latin American average due to lack of infrastructure; distribution of telephony services is proportionate to income inequalities; small, localized operators provide services; telecom and mobile broadband growing with LTE available to most of the population; government program aims for universal access to broadband services, and development of a national backbone; 5G launch anticipated in 2021 (2021) (2020)

domestic:fixed-line teledensity is about 11 per 100 persons; multiple providers of mobile-cellular service with a subscribership of 83 per 100 persons (2019)

international:country code - 1-809; 1-829; 1-849; landing point for the ARCOS-1, Antillas 1, AMX-1, SAm-1, East-West, Deep Blue Cable and the Fibralink submarine cables that provide links to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and US; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

combination of state-owned and privately owned broadcast media; 1 state-owned TV network and a number of private TV networks; networks operate repeaters to extend signals throughout country; combination of state-owned and privately owned radio stations with more than 300 radio stations operating (2019)

Internet country code

.do

Internet users

total: 7,705,529

percent of population:74.82% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 64

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 951,970

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants:9.15 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 72

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers:6

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

HI

Airports

total: 36 (2013)

country comparison to the world: 108

Airports - with paved runways

total: 16 (2017)

over 3,047 m:3 (2017)

2,438 to 3,047 m:4 (2017)

1,524 to 2,437 m:4 (2017)

914 to 1,523 m:4 (2017)

under 914 m:1 (2017)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 20 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m:1 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m:1 (2013)

under 914 m:18 (2013)

Heliports

1 (2013)

Pipelines

27 km gas, 103 km oil (2013)

Railways

total: 496 km (2014)

standard gauge:354 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)

narrow gauge:142 km 0.762-m gauge (2014)

country comparison to the world: 114

Roadways

total: 19,705 km (2002)

paved:9,872 km (2002)

unpaved:9,833 km (2002)

country comparison to the world: 115

Merchant marine

total: 38

by type:container ship 1, general cargo 2, oil tanker 1, other 34 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 127

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Puerto Haina, Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo

oil terminal(s):Punta Nizao oil terminal

LNG terminal(s) (import):Andres LNG terminal (Boca Chica)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Armed Forces of the Dominican Republic: Army (Ejercito Nacional, EN), Navy (Marina de Guerra, MdG, includes naval infantry), Dominican Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Dominicana, FAD); National Police (Policia Nacional) (2021)

note: in addition to the military, the Ministry of Armed Forces directs the Airport Security Authority and Civil Aviation, Port Security Authority, and Border Security Corps

Military expenditures

0.7% of GDP (2019)

0.7% of GDP (2018)

0.7% of GDP (2017)

0.7% of GDP (2016)

0.7% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 143

Military and security service personnel strengths

the Armed Forces of the Dominican Republic have approximately 60,000 active personnel (30,000 Army; 13,000 Navy; 17,000 Air Force); approximately 30,000 National Police (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the military is lightly armed with an inventory consisting mostly of older US equipment with limited quantities of material from other countries; since 2010, Brazil and Israel are the leading suppliers of armaments to the Dominican Republic (2020)

Military service age and obligation

17-21 years of age for voluntary military service; recruits must have completed primary school and be Dominican Republic citizens; women may volunteer (2019)

Military - note

the military's primary focuses are countering illegal immigration and refugees along its 350km-long border with Haiti and interdicting air and maritime narcotics trafficking

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Haitian migrants cross the porous border into the Dominican Republic to find work; illegal migrants from the Dominican Republic cross the Mona Passage each year to Puerto Rico to find better work

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 8,192 (Venezuela) (economic and political crisis; includes Venezuelans who have claimed asylum or have received alternative legal stay) (2019)

stateless persons:133,770 (2016); note - a September 2013 Constitutional Court ruling revoked the citizenship of those born after 1929 to immigrants without proper documentation, even though the constitution at the time automatically granted citizenship to children born in the Dominican Republic and the 2010 constitution provides that constitutional provisions cannot be applied retroactively; the decision overwhelmingly affected people of Haitian descent whose relatives had come to the Dominican Republic since the 1890s as a cheap source of labor for sugar plantations; a May 2014 law passed by the Dominican Congress regularizes the status of those with birth certificates but will require those without them to prove they were born in the Dominican Republic and to apply for naturalization; the government has issued documents to thousands of individuals who may claim citizenship under this law, but no official estimate has been released

note: revised estimate includes only individuals born to parents who were both born abroad; it does not include individuals born in the country to one Dominican-born and one foreign-born parent or subsequent generations of individuals of foreign descent; the estimate, as such, does not include all stateless persons (2015)

Illicit drugs

transshipment point for South American drugs destined for the US and Europe; has become a transshipment point for ecstasy from the Netherlands and Belgium destined for US and Canada; substantial money laundering activity in particular by Colombian narcotics traffickers; significant amphetamine consumption

Trafficking in persons

current situation: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in the Dominican Republic and Dominicans abroad; Dominican women and children are sex trafficked throughout the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean, South and Central America, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States; victims from Haiti and elsewhere in the Caribbean, Asia, and Latin America are trafficked in the Dominican Republic; Dominican women are lured to the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America to work in nightclubs but are then sex trafficked; domestically, children are forced into domestic servitude, street vending, begging, agricultural work, construction, and moving illicit narcotics, while adults are forced to work in construction, agriculture, and the services sector

tier rating:Tier 2 Watch List — the Dominican Republic does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so; the government has drafted a revised trafficking law that would be consistent with international law by removing the requirement for force, fraud, or coercion of sex trafficking of victims younger than 18; authorities increased investigations and prosecutions but convicted fewer traffickers and issued inadequate sentences; the country lacks a dedicated victim assistance budget and a full-time victim shelter; authorities did not effectively screen for trafficking indicators or refer all vulnerable individuals to care; the government has not allocated specific funds to implement its national anti-trafficking plan beyond the standard operating budget for the 14 institutions that are part of its Inter-Institutional Commission against Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (2020)

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