The Dominican Republic is located on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti.
Golden coastlines, deep blue lagoons and plush resorts are the order of the day in the Dominican Republic. As part of the tropic of cancer, the Dominican Republic has staggering topography and boasts verdant mountains, lagoons and over 1000 miles of stunning Caribbean coastline.
The east coasts is home to luxurious resorts with pristine private beaches and the north coast is the place to go for diving, with its Atlantic currents and unique reefs. La Caleta, near Santo Domingo, is an underwater wonderland with a depth of 600 feet and a little over 600 square miles. Home to numerous wrecks – including the sunken ‘Hickory’ – which was sunk intentionally in 1984 to create an artificial reef.
The Dominican Republic has far more to offer than great beaches and diving however. Steeped in history, The Dominican Republic is a melting pot of European, African, and native Taíno Indian cultures. This is a direct result of its colonisation by the Spanish after the Christopher Columbus discovered it in 1492, naming the Island Hispaniola. Santo Domingo was the first capital city of the Americas.
Hispaniola experienced many changes of power, with the French colonising it in 1795. In 1822, the eastern part of the Island fell into the Haitians’ hands, until – finally – in 1844, the Dominican Republic was born.
The blend of cultures is very apparent in the Dominican Republic, particularly in the Island’s cuisine. Many of its dishes have a Latin American feel, however traditional Taíno Indian ingredients, such as yucca and plantains are used. The most common food on the Island is called La Bandera, or “The Flag”. It is made with meat, rice, fried plantains and red beans – distinctly Dominican.
There are many historic museums and buildings that take a unique look into Dominican culture in Santo Domingo. Among them are the Alcázar de Colon (Fortress of Colon), the Reloj de Sol (the Sun Clock) and the monasterio de los Padres Dominicos (the Monastery of the Dominican Fathers).
The annual carnival – a celebration of independence – is the best way to immerse yourself into the culture. Carnival lasts throughout the month of February, climaxing on the 27th.
Dominican Republic Essential Information:
Capital: Santo Dominigo
Major cities: Puerto Plata
Places of interest: Alcazar de Colon and Cabarete
Time Zone: GMT -4
Language: Spanish (primary) and English. To learn the basics of Spanish visit www.bbc.co.uk
Currency: Dominican Republic uses Dominican Republic pesos (DOP). For up-to-date exchange rates see: www.xe.com/ucc
British Embassy: visit the website for more information