Wednesday, September 4, 2013

96. Dominican Republic - Introduction

Dominican Republic
República Dominicana  (Spanish)
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Dios, Patria, Libertad" (Spanish)
"God, Fatherland, Liberty"
Anthem: Himno Nacional
National Anthem
and largest city
Santo Domingo
19°00′N 70°40′W / 19.000°N 70.667°W / 19.000; -70.667
Official languages Spanish
Ethnic groups (1960)
Demonym Dominican
Government Unitary representative democratic republic
 -  President Danilo Medina
 -  Vice President Margarita Cedeño de Fernández
Legislature Congress
 -  Upper house Senate
 -  Lower house Chamber of Deputies
 -  from Spain December 1, 1821 
 -  from Haiti February 27, 1844 (not recognized by Haiti until 1867) 
 -  from Spain (declared) August 16, 1863 (recognized on March 3, 1865) 
 -  from the United States July 12, 1924 
 -  Total 48,442 km2 (130th)
18,704 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0.7
 -  2010 census 9,445,281
 -  Density 193.6/km2
501.5/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate
 -  Total 98.7 billion
 -  Per capita $9,646
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 -  Total $59 billion
 -  Per capita $5,763
Gini (2010) positive decrease 47.2
HDI (2013) Increase 0.702
medium · 96th
Currency Peso (DOP)
Time zone Atlantic (UTC-4)
Drives on the right
Calling code +1-809, +1-829, +1-849
ISO 3166 code DO
Internet TLD .do

The Dominican Republic  is a nation on the island of Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that are shared by two countries. Both by area and population, the Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean nation (after Cuba), with 48,445 square kilometres (18,705 sq mi) and an estimated 10 million people, one million of which in the capital city, Santo Domingo.
Taínos inhabited what is now the Dominican Republic since the 7th century. Christopher Columbus landed on it in 1492, and it became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, namely Santo Domingo, the country's capital and Spain's first capital in the New World. After three centuries of Spanish rule, with French and Haitian interludes, the country became independent in 1821. The ruler, José Núñez de Cáceres, intended that the Dominican Republic be part of the nation of Gran Colombia, but he was quickly removed by the Haitian government and "Dominican" slave revolts. Victorious in the Dominican War of Independence in 1844, Dominicans experienced mostly internal strife, and also a brief return to Spanish rule, over the next 72 years. The United States occupation of 1916–1924, and a subsequent calm and prosperous six-year period under Horacio Vásquez Lajara, were followed by the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina until 1961. The civil war of 1965, the country's last, was ended by a U.S.-led intervention, and was followed by the authoritarian rule of Joaquín Balaguer, 1966–1978. Since then, the Dominican Republic has moved toward representative democracy, and has been led by Leonel Fernández for most of the time after 1996. Danilo Medina, Dominican Republic's current president, replaced former president Leonel Fernández holding 51% of the Electoral Vote over his opponent ex-president Hipolito Mejia in 2012.
The Dominican Republic has the ninth largest economy in Latin America and the second largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region. Though long known for sugar production, the economy is now dominated by services. The country's economic progress is exemplified by its advanced telecommunication system. Nevertheless, unemployment, government corruption, and inconsistent electric service remain major Dominican problems. The country also has "marked income inequality".International migration affects the Dominican Republic greatly, as it receives and sends large flows of migrants. Haitian immigration and the integration of Dominicans of Haitian descent are major issues. A large Dominican diaspora exists, most of it in the United States. They aid national development as they send billions of dollars to their families, accounting for one-tenth of the Dominican GDP.

Population Genetics

Child with grandmother in Santo Domingo
In a research study it was revealed that the Dominican Republic's population racial admixture is European and African, but there is also a minor Taíno element in the population; research published in 2010 showed that 70% of Dominicans have African genes, and 15% of Dominicans have Taíno ancestry.
Even though it was found out that the Dominican Republic overall DNA admixture is multiracial with a significant amount of Taíno DNA which is consistent with both the historical background of the nation but, being that Dominicans range from full Whites to full Blacks to Mulattoes, these genetic findings are not assigned to the whole nation's population. Therefore, it does not suggest that Dominicans in general have Taíno DNA, but rather it means that individuals may or may not have it.

The Dominican Republic is the most visited destination in the Caribbean. The country's year-round golf courses are among the top attractions on the island. In this mountainous land is located the Caribbean's highest mountain, Pico Duarte, as is Lake Enriquillo, the Caribbean's largest lake and lowest elevation. It has an average temperature of 26 °C (78.8 °F) and great biological diversity. Music and sport are of great importance in the Dominican culture, with Merengue and Bachata as the national dance and music, and baseball as the favorite sport.
The Dominican Republic is 68.9% Roman Catholic, 18.2% Evangelical, 10.6% with no religion, and 2.3% other. However, other sources place the irreligious ratio at 7% and nearly 10%. Recent immigration, as well as proselytizing, has brought other religions, with the following shares of the population: Spiritist: 2.2%, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 1.1%, Buddhist: 0.1%, Bahá'í: 0.1%,Chinese Folk Religion: 0.1%, Islam: 0.02%, Judaism: 0.01%. The nation has two patroness saints: Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia (Our Lady Of High Grace) and Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes (Our Lady Of Mercy).
The Catholic Church began to lose popularity in the late 19th century. This was due to a lack of funding, of priests, and of support programs. During the same time, the Protestant evangelical movement began to gain support. Religious tension between Catholics and Protestants in the country has been rare.
There has always been religious freedom throughout the entire country. Not until the 1950s were restrictions placed upon churches by Trujillo. Letters of protest were sent against the mass arrests of government adversaries. Trujillo began a campaign against the church and planned to arrest priests and bishops who preached against the government. This campaign ended before it was even put into place, with his assassination.

During World War II, a group of Jews escaping Nazi Germany fled to the Dominican Republic and founded the city of Sosúa. It has remained the center of the Jewish population since.