A delightful magical place on the Caribbean!
Explored and claimed by 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. The Dominican economy has had one of the fastest growth rates in the hemisphere over the past decade. The Official Language: Spanish, but English is widely spoken, especially in the tourist areas and major resorts.
Government: Representative Democracy
Temperature: Average annual temperature in the high 70's Fahrenheit
Rainfall: Approximately 60 inches annually
Miscellaneous: The second largest nation in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola an is roughly the size of Maryland (US). It is larger than the Bahamas, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, all of the Virgin Islands and the entire French West Indies put together. The Dominican Republic is generally regarded as very safe with crimes against tourists rarely reported. Water is considered reasonably safe to drink at the major resorts, but bottled water is always the safest bet.
Transportation: To rent a car, you will need a valid driver`s license from your country as well as a major credit card for a deposit. Driving is on the right side of the road. Only governement regulated taxis are authorized to pick up from hotels. Taxis are unmetered, so bargaining on fares for your ride or by the hour is always a possibility.
Official Currency: Dominican peso (RD$), but the dollar is widely accepted and preferred. The current exchange rate is roughly $16 RD$ to $1 US dollar. Currency exchange offices are available at the airports as well as the major resorts and shopping areas. Travelers checks and major credit cards are widely accepted.
Entry Requirements: US & Canadian citizens must have a valid passport or proof of citizenship, such as an original birth certificate with an affixed seal. U.K., Australian & New Zealand travelers will need a valid passport. The purchase of a $10 tourist card is required upon arrival which must be presented to the proper immigration authorities when you leave. A $10 departure tax must be paid by all foreign visitors as well.