Posted by: D. M. | December 25, 2011

The Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic lies on the eastern side of Hispaniola Island, with Haiti on the opposite side, in the centre of the Greater Antilles. The Dominican territory is characterised by mountain peaks and sprawling plains. The central Cordillera area features the highest peak in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, which soars to 3157 metres. The mountain is considered to be the geographical centre of the Antilles, amid beautiful green valleys. To the east is a large peninsula featuring the 1,000 metre peaks of East Cordillera. There are 1600km of coastline, featuring numerous coral reefs. The climate is tropical, with temperatures averaging about 25C and the humidity tempered by Atlantic winds, which bring significant, though not excessive, rainfall.

   The island was discovered by Columbus in 1492, after being shipwrecked. Like most of the Caribbean, it has European and African influences, resulting in a distinctive mix of cultures. When Columbus landed, there were approximately 100,000 native ‘indios’, who were almost wiped out by Spanish colonists who found the island was blessed with fertile soil and deposits of gold. Large numbers of African slaves were imported to work the plantations. In 1844, when the island became independent, 90 per cent of the population were of African descent or mixed race. In the years since, the demographic make-up of the island changed considerably with African emigration to Haiti and an influx of white farmers, a policy promoted by the Creole elite.

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