Dominican Republic 

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Explored and claimed by Christopher COLUMBUS on his first voyage in 1492, the island of Hispaniola 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 for much of its subsequent history was brought to an end in 1966 when Joaquin BALAGUER became president. He 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 (1996-2000) Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna won election to a second term in 2004 following a constitutional amendment allowing presidents to serve more than one term.


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


total: 48,730 sq km
land: 48,380 sq km
water: 350 sq km

Land boundaries:

total: 360 km
border countries: Haiti 360 km


1,288 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 6 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin


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


rugged highlands and mountains with fertile valleys interspersed

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Lago Enriquillo -46 m
highest point: Pico Duarte 3,175 m

Natural resources:

nickel, bauxite, gold, silver

Land use:

arable land: 22.49%
permanent crops: 10.26%
other: 67.25% (2005)

Irrigated land:

2,750 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

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

Environment - current issues:

water shortages; soil eroding into the sea damages coral reefs; deforestation

Geography - note:

shares island of Hispaniola with Haiti


9,183,984 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 32.6% (male 1,531,145/female 1,464,076)
15-64 years: 61.9% (male 2,902,098/female 2,782,608)
65 years and over: 5.5% (male 235,016/female 269,041) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 24.1 years
male: 24 years
female: 24.3 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.47% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

23.22 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

5.73 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-2.79 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 28.25 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 30.58 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 25.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 71.73 years
male: 70.21 years
female: 73.33 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2.83 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

1.7% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

88,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

7,900 (2003 est.)


noun: Dominican(s)
adjective: Dominican

Ethnic groups:

mixed 73%, white 16%, black 11%


Roman Catholic 95%




definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 84.7%
male: 84.6%
female: 84.8% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Dominican Republic
conventional short form: The Dominican
local long form: Republica Dominicana
local short form: La Dominicana

Government type:

representative democracy


Santo Domingo

Administrative divisions:

31 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 district* (distrito); Azua, Baoruco, Barahona, Dajabon, Distrito Nacional*, Duarte, El Seibo, Elias Pina, Espaillat, Hato Mayor, Independencia, La Altagracia, La Romana, La Vega, Maria Trinidad Sanchez, Monsenor Nouel, Monte Cristi, Monte Plata, Pedernales, Peravia, Puerto Plata, Salcedo, Samana, San Cristobal, San Jose de Ocoa, San Juan, San Pedro de Macoris, Sanchez Ramirez, Santiago, Santiago Rodriguez, Santo Domingo, Valverde


27 February 1844 (from Haiti)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 27 February (1844)


28 November 1966; amended 25 July 2002

Legal system:

based on French civil codes; Criminal Procedures Code modified in 2004 to include important elements of an accusatory system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age, universal and compulsory; married persons regardless of age
note: members of the armed forces and national police cannot vote

Legislative branch:

bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate or Senado (32 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Camara de Diputados (150 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 16 May 2002 (next to be held in May 2006); House of Representatives - last held 16 May 2002 (next to be held in May 2006)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 29, PLD 2, PRSC 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PRD 73, PLD 41, PRSC 36

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (judges are appointed by the National Judicial Council comprised of the president, the leaders of both chambers of congress, the president of the Supreme Court, and an additional non-governing party congressional representative)

Economy - overview:

The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean representative democracy that enjoyed strong GDP growth until 2003. Although the country has long been viewed primarily as an exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, in recent years the service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy's largest employer due to growth in tourism and free trade zones. Growth turned negative in 2003 with reduced tourism, a major bank fraud, and limited growth in the US economy (the source of about 80% of export revenues), but recovered in 2004 and 2005. With the help of strict fiscal targets agreed in the 2004 renegotiation of an IMF standby loan, President FERNANDEZ has stabilized the country's financial situation. Although the economy continues to grow at a respectable rate, unemployment remains an important challenge. The country suffers from marked income inequality; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GNP, while the richest 10% enjoys nearly 40% of national income. The Dominican Republic's development prospects improved with the ratification of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) in September 2005.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$60 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$17.63 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

6.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$6,600 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 10.7%
industry: 31.5%
services: 57.8% (2003)

Labor force:

2.3 million-2.6 million (2000 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 17%
industry: 24.3%
services: 58.7% (1998 est.)

Unemployment rate:

17% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:


Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 2.1%
highest 10%: 37.9% (1998)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

47.4 (1998)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

4.3% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

25.4% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $5.322 billion
expenditures: $5.485 billion; including capital expenditures of $1.1 billion (2005)

Public debt:

51.4% of GDP (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

sugarcane, coffee, cotton, cocoa, tobacco, rice, beans, potatoes, corn, bananas; cattle, pigs, dairy products, beef, eggs


tourism, sugar processing, ferronickel and gold mining, textiles, cement, tobacco

Industrial production growth rate:

2% (2001 est.)

Electricity - production:

12.6 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

11.71 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

128,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - imports:

129,900 bbl/day (2003)

Natural gas - consumption:

300 million cu m (2003 est.)

Current account balance:

-$383 million (2005 est.)


$5.818 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

ferronickel, sugar, gold, silver, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, meats, consumer goods

Exports - partners:

US 80%, South Korea 2.1%, Canada 1.9% (2004)


$9.747 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

foodstuffs, petroleum, cotton and fabrics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals

Imports - partners:

US 48.1%, Venezuela 13.4%, Colombia 4.8%, Mexico 4.8% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$850 million (31 December 2005)

Debt - external:

$7.907 billion (2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$571.6 million (2004)

Currency (code):

Dominican peso (DOP)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

936,200 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

2,534,100 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: NA
domestic: relatively efficient system based on island-wide microwave radio relay network
international: country code - 1-809; 1 coaxial submarine cable; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 120, FM 56, shortwave 4 (1998)

Television broadcast stations:

25 (2003)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

81,598 (2005)

Internet users:

800,000 (2005)


32 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 13
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 1 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 19
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 5
under 914 m: 10 (2005)


total: 517 km
standard gauge: 375 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 142 km 0.762-m gauge
note: additional 1,226 km operated by sugar companies in 1.076 m, 0.889 m, and 0.762-m gauges (2004)


total: 12,600 km
paved: 6,224 km
unpaved: 6,376 km (1999)

Merchant marine:

total: 1 ships (1000 GRT or over) 1,587 GRT/1,165 DWT
by type: cargo 1 (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Boca Chica, Puerto Plata, Rio Haina, Santo Domingo

Military branches:

Army, Navy, Air Force

Disputes - international:

increasing numbers of illegal migrants from the Dominican Republic cross the Mona Passage each year to Puerto Rico to find work

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; Colombian narcotics traffickers favor the Dominican Republic for illicit financial transactions