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The Dominican Republic (Spanish: República Dominicana) occupies the other half (well two-thirds really) of the island of Hispaniola and one of the few countries with "Republic" on its colloquial name.

Since Christopher Columbus arrived on the island in search of gold and Asian trade routes in 1492, the island has been constantly changing hands between all kinds of powers. It started as a Spanish colony until the end of the 18th century, when it became a French colony. After the success of the Haitian Revolution in 1804 drove the French out of western Hispaniola, the French managed to hold onto the eastern part of the island, before the Spanish drove the French out altogether in 1808. The Dominicans experienced a period of relative autonomy, due to the decline of the Spanish Empire after The Napoleonic Wars, before being invaded by neighboring Haiti in 1822.

The Haitian occupation was initially popular, but by 1844 the Dominicans became disillusioned by Haitian rule and successfully revolted. In a curious turn of events, in 1861 they asked Spain to be taken as a colony again. The move was highly unpopular and resulted in a civil war which resulted in the Spanish leaving again. A period of chaotic political scene and economic mismanagement followed that war, and ended with an invasion by the United States in 1916. The chaotic American occupation lasted until 1922. The new president, Horacio Vasquez, presided over the only period of stable governance and healthy economic growth in Dominican history until that point.

If you thought the situation was bad, you can believe things went worse. Rafael Trujillo, generally considered one of the worst tyrants in Latin American history and the inspiration for The Generalissimo trope, assumed power in 1930 after years of plotting against President Vasquez, indulging in a cult of personality worthy of Stalin or Saddam Hussein. He stole almost all the money from international aid, ordered the killings of all kinds of opponents and the Haitians living on the Dominican side of the frontier (using a Trust Password to identify them). Trujillo also waged other bizarre, crazy acts, like an assassination attempt on Venezuela's well-respected President Betancourt and the kidnapping and execution of Dominican dissident and US citizen, Jesus Galindez, in New York State and in broad daylight. He maintained himself and his loyal puppets in power and ensured the country would be ruled with an iron fist. His detractors started to compare him to a rabid dog until the U.S., initially their supporters, got alienated enough with Trujillo's fascistic rule to order a CIA plot to kill him in 1961. The new president, Juan Bosch, was eventually seen as too left-wing for the US and Dominican conservatives' tastes, and a civil war broke out in 1965, followed by a US invasion against Bosch and a second occupation until 1966.

After the Trujillo era, the country still had its time of military government and strongmen politicians, but now it’s a functioning democracy. However, the constant turmoil of its history has left its marks in the form of corruption, unemployment and problems with the electric distribution network. Also, the relations with Haiti keep being lukewarm at best (the continuing immigration of Haitians doesn’t help either). The country is well-known for its telecommunication system, however. In the most recent years, it has finally—finally—found its place, being the fastest-growing economy in The Caribbean (if not the Americas) since about 2000, spurred in part by the success of the government's plan to make the country a center of textile manufacturing for the Western Hemisphere (if you're Americas-based and have underwear, there's a decent chance it was made in the DR), in part by the country's excellent tourism industry, and in part by the entirely fortuitous discovery of literal gold and silver mines in the country in the early 2010s. (Columbus must be rolling in his grave at that last one.)

Don't confuse the country with the (arguably) less well-known Dominica, which is also a sovereign country located in the Caribbean, but is a part of the Lesser Antilles instead of the Greater Antilles in which the DR belong (the former encompasses all those small islands scattered to the north of Venezuela, while the latter includes the "larger" countries, such as the DR, Cuba, Haiti, and the US territory of Puerto Rico). It's not helped by the fact that Dominica also has the same cross symbol in its flag, though colored green, or the fact that the demonyms of both countries are "Dominicans" in English.note 

Notable Dominicans and people of Dominican descent:

The Dominican Republic in fiction:

  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa is set during the late parts of the infamous dictatorship era under Rafael Trujillo's government.
  • The book In the Time of the Butterflies is based on the assassination of the Mirabal sisters by Trujillo’s government.
  • Carla from Scrubs is Dominican.
  • The Serpent and the Rainbow supposedly takes place in Haiti, but the filming was moved to the Dominican Republic.
  • The Fast and the Furious series features the country twice in important plot points. The fourth film, Fast & Furious, opens with Dom's gang raiding a truck in the countryside, and the country is also the last place where Dom saw Letty before her apparent death. The seventh film, Furious 7, revisits it again as a safe refuge for Mia and her children while the gang confronts the Big Bad, and later on, it is revealed that sometime before the truck raid in the fourth film, Dom and Letty got married in the country.
  • Rumor had it that the titular Jackal of The Day of the Jackal was behind the assassination of Trujillo, but of course no one will ever be sure.
  • Killer7 has one of its chapters (namely the fifth, titled Alter Ego) set in Santo Domingo. The Smiths travel to this destination to look for a group of supervillains known as the Handsome Men.

The Dominican flag
The flag shows red and blue quarters divided by a white cross, designed by the La Trinitaria, the country's anti-Haitian La Résistance led by three men. Red, blue and white symbolize sacrifice, liberty and salvation, respectively. At the center is the coat-of-arms, depicting a shield in the national colors, before which are six flags flanking The Bible, supposedly opened at John 8:32, which reads "And the truth shall make you free". Supporting the arms are laurel and palm leaves. Above the shield is a scroll with La Trinitaria's keyword "Dios, Patria, Libertad" ("God, Country, Freedom"), and below is the country's name in Spanish.

The Dominican national anthem

Quisqueyanos valientes, alcemos
Nuestro canto con viva emoción,
Y del mundo a la faz ostentemos
Nuestro invicto glorioso pendón.

¡Salve! el pueblo que, intrépido y fuerte,
A la guerra a morir se lanzó,
Cuando en bélico reto de muerte
Sus cadenas de esclavo rompió.

Ningún pueblo ser libre merece
Si es esclavo indolente y servil;
Si en su pecho la llama no crece
Que templó el heroísmo viril,

Mas Quisqueya la indómita y brava
Siempre altiva la frente alzará;
Que si fuere mil veces esclava
Otras tantas ser libre sabrá.

Que si dolo y ardid la expusieron
De un intruso señor al desdén,
¡Las Carreras! ¡Beller!, campos fueron
Que cubiertos de gloria se ven.

Que en la cima de heroíco baluarte
De los libres el verbo encarnó,
Donde el genio de Sánchez y Duarte
A ser libre o morir enseñó.

Y si pudo inconsulto caudillo
De esas glorias el brillo empañar,
De la guerra se vio en Capotillo
La bandera de fuego ondear.

Y el incendio que atónito deja
De Castilla al soberbio león,
De las playas gloriosas le aleja
Donde flota el cruzado pendón.

Compatriotas, mostremos erguida
Nuestra frente, orgullosos de hoy más;
Que Quisqueya será destruida
Pero sierva de nuevo, ¡jamás!

Que es santuario de amor cada pecho
Do la patria se siente vivir;
Y es su escudo invencible el derecho;
Y es su lema ser libre o morir.

¡Libertad! que aún se yergue serena
La Victoria en su carro triunfal,
Y el clarín de la guerra aún resuena
Pregonando su gloria inmortal.

¡Libertad! Que los ecos se agiten
Mientras llenos de noble ansiedad
Nuestros campos de gloria repiten
¡Libertad! ¡Libertad! ¡Libertad!

Brave Quisqueyans,
Let’s raise our song with vivid emotion,
From the world to the face of the earth
Show our unconquered glorious banner.

Hail, the nation who strong and intrepid,
Into war launched itself set to die
When in a warring challenge to the death
Its chains of slavery still it cut off.

No people deserves to be free
If it’s an indolent slave and servile;
If in its chest doesn't grow the flame
that forged virile heroism.

But Quisqueya the brave and indomitable
Always proudly her forehead will raise
For if she were a thousand times a slave
This many times it will be free.

And if fraud and cunning exposed her
To disdain of an intrusive man,
Las Carreras! Beler!...were fields
Which covered in glory were seen.

At the top of our heroic bastion,
Word of the free was materialized,
Where the genius of Sanchez and Duarte
Taught us to be free or to die.

And if could inconsiderate leader
Reduce the luster of these glories,
Of the war seen in Capotillo
The banner of fire waves on.

And the fire that leaves shocked
The arrogant lion from Castile,
Removes it from glorious beaches to
Where floats the banner that’s crossed.

Compatriots, let’s show erect our
Forehead, proud of today for;
Quisqueya will be destroyed
But it will never be again enslaved.

That every chest is of love a sanctuary
Where one feels the homeland lives;
It is the law her invincible shield;
It is her motto be free or die.

Liberty that still serenely lifts up
Victory in her triumphal carriage.
The trumpet of war still resounds
Proclaiming her immortal glory

Freedom! Let the echoes agitate
While full of noble anxiety
Our battlefields of glory reverb these words -
Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!

  • Unitary presidental republic
    • President: Luis Abinader
    • Vice President: Raquel Peña de Antuña

  • Capital and largest city: Santo Domingo
  • Population: 10,878,246
  • Area: 48,671 sq km (18,792 sq mi) (128th)
  • Currency: Dominican peso (RD$) (DOP)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: DO
  • Country calling code: 1 (area codes 809, 829, and 849)
  • Highest point: Pico Duarte (3098 m/10,164 ft) (56th)
  • Lowest point: Lake Enriquillo (−45 m/−148 ft) (14th)