Fast Facts

Population:
8,862,000
Capital:
Santo Domingo; 1,865,000
Area:
48,442 square kilometers (18,704 square miles)
Language:
Spanish
Religion:
Roman Catholic
Currency:
Dominican peso
Life Expectancy:
69
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $6,300
Literacy Percent:
85
Flag: Dominican Republic
Map: Dominican Republic

Occupying the eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is the second largest country, after Cuba, in the West Indies. This mountainous land includes Pico Duarte—the highest point in the Caribbean. Colonized in 1493 by Spaniards, it offered the first chartered university, hospital, cathedral, and monastery in the Americas. Santo Domingo, founded in 1496, is the oldest European settlement in the Western Hemisphere. The nation became independent in 1844, but endured political instability and repressive governments. Today it is a democracy, economically dependent on agriculture and tourism.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Tourism, sugar processing, ferronickel and gold mining, textiles
  • Agriculture: Sugarcane, coffee, cotton, cacao; cattle
  • Exports: Ferronickel, sugar, gold, silver, coffee

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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