The Dominican Republic is an island nation found in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea. The Dominican Republic occupies half of Hispaniola along with the nation of Haiti, and is the second largest nation in the Caribbean after Cuba. The Dominican Republic has a total population of approximately ten million residents, and covers a total area of nearly nineteen thousand square feet. A group of Amerindians called the Tainos first arrived in the modern day Dominican Republic during the seventh century AD, expelling earlier indigenous peoples. The Tainos were in turn displaced by the Carib Indians, and Spanish explorers finally arrived in the year 1492. The arrival of European explorers resulted in a massive population decline due to smallpox and other epidemics, although the Taino and Carib legacy continues to influence Dominican culture to the modern day. The Spanish controlled the island of Hispaniola until the late eighteenth century, when the Peace of Basel ceded the modern day Dominican Republic to France. Eventually, the Dominican Republic transitioned back into Spanish control and Haitian control, before gradually gaining independence. Despite a rocky history with a number of rebellions and dictators, the Dominican Republic has become much more stable over the past several years.
Although the Dominican Republic itself is a part of the island of Hispaniola, the nation also includes a number of smaller islets and cays. The most notable of these are Saona and Beata, in addition to two mostly submerged offshore banks called Navidad Bank and Silver Bank. The Dominican Republic is an impressively mountainous country, and encompasses four of the highest mountains in the Caribbean Sea. These peaks are, from smallest to largest, Pico Yaque at nine thousand fifty five feet, La Rucilla at ten thousand three feet, La Pelona at ten thousand one hundred and fifty one feet, and Pico Duarte at ten thousand one hundred sixty two feet. The Dominican Republic has a large number of sugar plantations, especially in the Caribbean Coastal Plain to the north of Santo Domingo. There are four major rivers and several large lakes in the Dominican Republic, although the most impressive shorelines of the nation are found along the Caribbean Sea. The Dominican Republic has a pleasant average annual temperature of about seventy seven degrees Fahrenheit, with the temperature rarely dipping below sixty degrees or reaching above eighty five degrees.
The three largest cities in the Dominican Republic in terms of population are the capital, Santo Domingo, with more than three million residents, Santiago de los Caballeros, with about seven hundred and sixty thousand residents, and La Romana, with about a quarter of a million residents. The Dominican Republic has a unique culinary tradition and musical heritage, highlighted by such local dishes as mangu, sancocho, and la bandera and musical styles such as meringue and bachata. The Dominican Republic has adopted much of Cuba’s and the United States’ enthusiasm for baseball, producing some of the most dominant players in Major League Baseball, such as Albert Pujols. The Dominican Republic also boasts a strong tourist industry, with the nation’s green mountains and white sand beaches providing a great incentive to visit the luxury hotels and resorts in the area.