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The Taino - indigenous inhabitants of Hispaniola prior to the arrival of the Europeans - divided the island into five chiefdoms and territories. Christopher COLUMBUS explored and claimed the island on his first voyage in 1492; it 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 followed, capped by the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas TRUJILLO from 1930 to 1961. Juan BOSCH was elected president in 1962 but was deposed in a military coup in 1963. In 1965, the US led an intervention in the midst of a civil war sparked by an uprising to restore BOSCH. In 1966, Joaquin BALAGUER defeated BOSCH in the presidential election. BALAGUER 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 Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna (first term 1996-2000) won election to a new term in 2004 following a constitutional amendment allowing presidents to serve more than one term, and was later reelected to a second consecutive term. In 2012, Danilo MEDINA Sanchez became president; he was reelected in 2016.


Caribbean, eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Haiti

Natural Resources

nickel, bauxite, gold, silver, arable land

Population - distribution

coastal development is significant, especially in the southern coastal plains and the Cibao Valley, where population density is highest; smaller population clusters exist in the interior mountains (Cordillera Central)

Spanish (official)
SANTO DOMINGO (capital) 2.945 million (2015)
Conventional long form
Dominican Republic
Conventional short form
The Dominican
Local long form
Republica Dominicana
Local short form
La Dominicana
presidential republic
Santo Domingo
Geographic coordinates
18 28 N, 69 54 W
Time difference
UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
The Dominican Republic was for most of its history primarily an exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, but in recent years the service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy's largest employer, due to growth in construction, tourism, and free trade zones. The mining sector has also played a greater role in the export market since late 2012 with the commencement of the extraction phase of the Pueblo Viejo Gold and Silver mine, one of the largest gold mines in the world. The country suffers from marked income inequality; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GDP, while the richest 10% enjoys nearly 40% of GDP. High unemployment, a large informal sector, and underemployment remain important long-term challenges.
External debt stocks
US$ 26,631,939,000
Total tax rate (% of commercial profits)
Real Interest Rate
Manufacturing, value added (% of GDP)
Current Account Balance
US$ -977,600,000
Labor Force, Total
Employment in Agriculture
Employment in Industry
Employment in Services
Unemployment Rate
Imports of goods and services
US$ 20,690,876,959
Exports of goods and services
US$ 18,016,218,609
Total Merchandise Trade
FDI, net inflows
US$ 2,522,500,000
Commercial Service Exports
US$ 7,983,900,000
cocoa, tobacco, sugarcane, coffee, cotton, rice, beans, potatoes, corn, bananas; cattle, pigs, dairy products, beef, eggs
tourism, sugar processing, gold mining, textiles, cement, tobacco, electrical components, medical devices
gold, silver, cocoa, sugar, coffee, tobacco, meats, consumer goods
US 42.2%, Haiti 16.4%, Canada 8%, India 5.4% (2015)
petroleum, foodstuffs, cotton and fabrics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals
US 43.4%, China 9.5%, Trinidad and Tobago 4.7%, Mexico 4.3% (2015)
Country Risk Rating
Political and economic uncertainties and an occasionally difficult business environment can affect corporate payment behavior. Corporate default probability is appreciable.
Business Climate Rating
The business environment is difficult. Corporate financial information is often unavailable and when available often unreliable. Debt collection is unpredictable. The institutional framework has many troublesome weaknesses. Intercompany transactions run major risks in the difficult environments rated C.
  • Top tourist destination in the Caribbean
  • Remittances from diaspora
  • Free-trade agreement with the United States (CAFTA-DR)
  • Free-trade areas (51% of exports)
  • Political stability
  • Dependence on U.S. economic cycle
  • Dependence on price of gold
  • Inadequate power supply
  • Education and healthcare shortcomings
  • High levels of poverty and inequality
  • Drug-related crime
  • High levels of corruption

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