Christopher Columbus arrived on Hispaniola on December 5, 1492, during the first of his four voyages to America. When he sighted Dominican Republic’s coral-edged Caribbean coastline on his first voyage to the New World and pronounced: “There is no more beautiful island in the world.” The first permanent European settlement in the New World was on November 7, 1493, and its ruins still remain near Montecristi in the northeast part of the island.
Total area: 48,442 km² (18,704 sq. miles)
Population: 9,378,818 (2010 census)
In the heart of the Caribbean archipelago - nestled amid Cuba, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico - the island of Hispaniola (Little Spain) is divided between Haiti, on the westernmost third of the island, and the Dominican Republic, which has a lush landmass about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Hispaniola is one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries. Both by area and population after Cuba, the Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean nation.
In the Dominican interior, the fertile Valley of Cibao (rich sugar-cane country) ends its upward sweep at Pico Duarte, the highest mountain peak in the West Indies, which soars to 3,125m (10,250 ft.).
Much of what Columbus first sighted in the Dominican Republic still remains in a natural, unspoiled condition. One-third of the Dominican Republic’s 1,401km (869-mile) coastline is devoted to beaches. The best are in Puerto Plata and La Romana, although Puerto Plata and other beaches on the Atlantic side of the island have dangerously strong currents at times.
The combination of low prices and beautiful terrain has made the Dominican Republic one of the fastest-growing destinations in the Caribbean. Bargain-hunting Canadians, in particular, flock here in droves. Don’t expect the lavish, spectacular resorts that you’ll find on Puerto Rico or Jamaica, but do expect your vacation to be that much less expensive.
The country's political status is one of stability since the late 60’s, and given this, the Dominican Republic is building and expanding rapidly. The economic growth hasn’t benefited everybody, though. The country is still poor, even by Caribbean standards.
Music and sport are of the highest importance in Dominican culture, with merengue as the national dance and accompanied by traditional songs and with baseball being the nation's favorite sport.
Sources: infoplease, wikipedia, lonelyplanet
The climate of the Dominican Republic is mostly tropical. The annual average temperature is 25 °C (77 °F). At higher elevations, the temperature averages 18 °C (64.4 °F) while near sea level, the average temperature is 28 °C (82.4 °F). Low temperatures of 0 °C (32 °F) are possible in the mountaineous areas, while high temperatures of 40 °C (104 °F) have been recorded in protected valleys. January and February are the coolest months of the year, while August is the hottest month. Some snowflakes can fall in rare occasions on the top of the Pico Duarte.
The wet season along the northern coast lasts from November through January. Elsewhere, the wet season stretches from May through November, with May being the wettest month. Average annual rainfall is 1,500 millimetres (59.1 in) countrywide, with individual locations in the Valle de Neiba seeing averages as low as 350 millimetres (13.8 in) while the Cordillera Oriental averages 2,740 millimetres (107.9 in). The driest part of the country lies in the west. Tropical cyclones strike the country every couple of years, with 65 percent of the impacts along the southern coast. Hurricanes are most likely between August and October. The last time a category 5 hurricane struck the country was Hurricane David in 1979.
The Dominican Republic has the second largest economy (some say the largest, according to the U.S. State Department) in both Central America and the Caribbean. It is an upper middle-income developing country primarily dependent on agriculture, trade, and services, especially tourism. Although the service sector has recently overtaken agriculture as the leading employer of Dominicans (due principally to growth in tourism and Free Trade Zones), agriculture remains the most important sector in terms of domestic consumption and is in second place (behind mining) in terms of export earnings.
With a GDP (2007) per capita of $9,208, in Purchasing Power Parity terms is one of relatively high levels for Latin American countries. Economic growth (in 2007) was led largely led by imports, followed by exports and then finance with foreign investments as the next largest factors.
The Dominican Republic is primarily dependent on natural resources and government services. Although the service sector has recently overtaken agriculture as the leading employer of Dominicans (due principally to growth in tourism and Free Trade Zones) agriculture is not a sector to ignore. The service sector in general has experienced growth in recent years, as has construction and development. Free Trade Zone earnings and tourism are the fastest-growing export sectors. Real estate tourism alone accounted for $1.5 billion in earnings (2007)
Tourism accounts for more than $1 billion in annual earnings. According to a 1999 International Monetary Fund report, remittances from Dominican Americans back to their home country are in the billions (just over 3bn) annually and these funds are used to cover basic household needs such as shelter, food, clothing, health care and education. Secondarily, remittances have financed small businesses and other productive activities.
The Dominican Republic's most important trading partner is the United States (75% of export revenues). Other markets include Canada, Western Europe, and Japan. The country exports free-trade-zone manufactured products (garments, medical devices, and so on), nickel, sugar, coffee, cacao, and tobacco. It imports petroleum, industrial raw materials, capital goods, and foodstuffs.
The Dominican peso (DOP, or RD$) is the national currency, although United States dollars (USD) and euros (EUR) are also accepted at most tourist sites. The dollar is implicated in almost all commercial transactions of the Dominican RepubliC, as it is common in such high inflation economies.
Tourism is the single biggest revenue earner, with receipts increasing more than twentyfold from USD$173 million in 1980 to a whopping USD$5 billion expected in 2012 from about 5 million tourists, as per Tourist Minister Felix Jimenez (DR news).
Successive governments have invested heavily in tourism development, creating upgraded airports and other infrastructure. Most overseas visitors come from Europe, with about 25 percent originating from the United States or Canada. The country now has almost 100,000 hotel rooms, more than any other Caribbean country. About 80,000 Dominicans are directly employed in this sector, mostly working in hotels, and another 150,000 are indirectly employed as taxi drivers, tour guides, or tourist-shop staff. Most tourists visit the Dominican Republic on account of its beaches, but there is an expanding eco-tourism and outdoor activity sector, focused on the country's mountains and wildlife.
In more recent years, the Dominican republic is kicking off its reputation of all inclusive hotels and is venturing into the exclusive world of luxury vacation homes, second homes and primary residences. The European euro, American dollar and not forgetting sterling are to be the new currencies of the Dominican Republic and they are well prepared to receive them.
Having experienced a tourist revolution over the last decade or so, the Dominican Government has decided that they want to see the tourists stay longer and spend more by turning this lush island into a cosmopolitan destination for the international discerning. Signature golf courses are being built, marinas constructed and some beautiful residential architecture is on the drawing boards of highly experienced and renowned international architects. If you were considering a Caribbean island home, take a look at the Dominican Republic - you will be surprised at how far your money will go when compared to other islands in the area.
Sources: Wikipedia, DR News, Lonelyplanet
Car Hire in the Dominican Republic with MisterHire.Com
The Punta Cana became the prime resort area for many good reasons, with its scenery being one of the most important. The Punta Cana enjoys some of the finest beaches in all of the Dominican Republic, with fine white sand and pale turquoise waters that stretch as far as the eye can see. The beaches of the Punta Cana enjoy features of both the Atlantic and Caribbean oceans which they border. The Punta Cana area enjoys some of the best weather in the Dominican Republic, though there is a humid season from May to October. The area generally experiences far less rainfall than the rest of the Dominican Republic, making it an ideal place to plan a vacation without risks. Of course, the Punta Cana is also known for its wide range of activities.
Dominican cuisine is predominantly Spanish, Taíno, and African. The typical cuisine is quite similar to what can be found in other Latin American countries, but many of the names of dishes are different. One breakfast dish consists of eggs and mangú (mashed, boiled plantain), a dish that the Dominican Republic shares with Cuba and Puerto Rico. For heartier versions, mangú is accompanied by deep-fried meat (Dominican salami, typically) and/or cheese. Similarly to Spain, lunch is generally the largest and most important meal of the day. Lunch usually consists of rice, meat (such as chicken, beef, pork, or fish), beans, and a side portion of salad. "La Bandera" (literally "The Flag") is the most popular lunch dish; it consists of meat and red beans on white rice. Sancocho is a stew often made with seven varieties of meat.
Meals tend to favor starches and meats over dairy products and vegetables. Many dishes are made with sofrito, which is a mix of local herbs used as a wet rub for meats and sautéed to bring out all of a dish's flavors.
Sugar-white beaches, inexpensive resorts, and rich natural beauty have long drawn visitors to the Dominican Republic, while at the same time, a not-so-fair reputation for high crime, poverty, and social unrest has scared away many others. All these can be better experienced with the use of a hire car and this is where our services come into place.
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Speed limits in the Dominican Republic
Traffic in the Dominican Republic moves on the right side of the road. Speed limits vary from 25 mph in the city to 60 mph on rural roads, but they are generally not enforced. Drivers are required to carry liability insurance.
If you do drive in the Dominican Republic, you should be aware that the utmost caution and defensive driving are necessary. Traffic laws are similar to those in the United States, but undisciplined driving is common, due to a lack of adequate traffic controls. Many drivers will not use turn indicators. It is common for a vehicle operator to stick his hand out the window to signal a turn. Drivers can also be aggressive and erratic, often failing to yield the right-of-way even when road signs or signals indicate that they should. Turning right on red lights is permitted, but should be done with caution.
The good news is there are still no Alcohol limits in the Dominican Republic! So stick to the general rule: do not drive if you're drinking!
Sources: AngloInfo, rupissed