OFFICIAL NAME: Dominican Republic
CAPITAL: Santo Domingo
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Multiparty Republic
AREA: 48,422 Sq Km (18,696 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 8,338,100
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: The Dominican Republic is located
in the Caribbean Sea and occupies 66% of the island of Hispaniola
while the territory also includes the islands of Beata Catalina,
Saona, Alto Velo and Catalinita. It is bound by Haiti to
the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean
Sea to the south. The country can be divided into two main
topographical regions. (1.) The highlands which consist
of four parallel mountain ranges, the Cordillera Central
which is a heavily wooded mountain range, the Cordillera
Septentrional, the Sierra de Neiba and the Sierra de Baoruco.
(2.) The lowlands which consist of long parallel valleys
which lie in a northwest direction. The most extensive valley
is the Cibao with another being the Neiba Valley while there
are also other numerous small valleys each with its own
drainage system. The largest lake on the island is Lake
Enriquillo. Major Cities (pop. est.); Santo Domingo 2,100,000,
Santiago de los Caballeros 690,000, La Vega 189,000, San
Pedro de Macoris 137,000 (1993). Land Use; forested 13%,
pastures 43%, agricultural-cultivated 30%, other 14% (1993).
CLIMATE: The Dominican Republic has a tropical maritime climate
with trade winds moderating the heat. The wet or rainy season is from May
to November in the south and from December to April in the north. Hurricanes
can also occur between June and November. In general, rainfall is heaviest
in the north and diminishes towards the south and west. Average annual
precipitation varies between 1,390 mm (55 inches) and 1,520 mm (60 inches).
Average temperature ranges in Santo Domingo are from 19 to 29 degrees Celsius
(66 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 23 to 31 degrees Celsius (73
to 88 degrees Fahrenheit) in August.
PEOPLE: The Mulattoes who are of mixed European and African descent
account for 75% of the population followed by the Whites who account for
15% while Black Africans account for 10%. The White population includes
pure Spanish, Lebanese and German Jews while other ethnic aliens include
Chinese and Japanese.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 151 persons per sq km
(391 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 60.4% urban, 39.6% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 50.8% male, 49.2% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
63.9 years male, 68.1 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 38% under 15,
30% 15 to 29, 18% 30 to 44, 9% 45 to 59, 4% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 31.3 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 6.8 per 1,000 (1990). Increase
Rate; 9.9 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 65.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Mostly Christians with around 92% of the population
Roman Catholic. Other religious minorities include Protestants, Haitian
Voodooists, Cultists and a small number of Jews.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Spanish which is spoken by
98% of the population while the remaining 2% of the population speak a
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
48.0%, incomplete primary 31.7%, primary 4.0%, secondary 14.0%, higher
2.3% (1981). Literacy; literate population aged 15 or over 83.3% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In 1930 Gen. Rafael Trujillo Molina
was elected President. He established and ruled a ruthless dictatorship through
a number of "Puppet" Presidents until he was assassinated in May
1961. The then President Dr Joaquin Balaguer remained in office until Jan.
1962 and during this time a power struggle began among the military, the upper
class and the people who wanted a democracy, as well as those who preferred
communism. In Dec. 1962 Dr Juan Bosch was elected President, although in Sept.
1963 the military ousted him and then formed a three member Junta to govern
the country. In Apr. 1965 a pro-Bosch revolt overthrew the Junta and a civil
war followed. This resulted in US Pres. Johnson sending US troops to the Dominican
Republic to intervene in the fighting and maintain order. A truce was arranged
in May 1965 and fresh elections took place in June 1966, which were won by
Balaguer. In 1978 Antonio Guzman won office from Balaguer, however, Guzman
committed suicide in 1982 after allegations of fraud were made against his
family and Dr Jorge Salvador Blanco was elected his successor. In 1979 a hurricane
killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed the homes of about 200,000 others.
In 1984 and 1985 there were serious disturbances after price increases of
essential goods and in 1986 after some violence Balaguer was reelected President.
In 1988 former Pres. Blanco was convicted and sentenced to 20 years imprisonment
for corruption. In July 1990 Pres. Balaguer was re-elected for another term
and in August a two day strike in protest to an austerity package announced
on Aug, 8, resulted in the deaths of at least 12 people, 100 injuries and
5,000 arrests when the protests were repressed. In Nov. 1990 another general
strike followed in protest to rising unemployment. In June 1991 relations
with Haiti were strained as Pres. Balaguer decreed the deportation of all
illegal Haitian immigrants under 16 or over 60. In July 1991 Pres. Balaguer
signed a $113 million IMF standby arrangement that resulted in several strikes
in protest to the arrangement which included numerous austerity measures.
By the end of July 1991 some 3,000 Haitian workers had been deported while
another 15,000 had fled the country that led to serious labor shortages for
the sugar plantation and construction industries. In 1992 there were deep
divisions within the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) when 47 members resign
while several others were also expelled and later formed a new party, the
Alliance for Democracy, over the PLD's stance on the proposed new Labor Code.
In May 1992 the new Labor Code was ratified by both houses of the Congress
and the President. In Sept. and Oct. 1992 there were violent demonstrations
in protest to the planned Oct. 12, 1992 celebrations for the 500th anniversary
of Columbus' landing on Hispaniola. On Sept. 30, 1992 secret police killed
the head of the Dominican Committee for Human Rights during a march with 10
police later being arrested. Also during 1992 the US Drug Enforcement Agency
alleged that high-ranking Dominican officials were engaged in drug trafficking,
although Pres. Balaguer denied an knowledge of involvement by members of his
staff. In Mar. 1993 the state-owned Rosario Dominicana temporarily shut-down
its gold mining operations and suspended 70 employees. In 1993 political campaigning
intensified in anticipation of 1994 presidential elections with the leader
of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, Jose Francisco Pena Gomez, accusing
the ruling Social Christian Reformist Party of mounting a racist campaign
by calling him a Haitian and raising fears of a French-sponsored campaign
to unite the country with Haiti. Also during the year Pres. Balaguer spent
two weeks in Florida, USA recovering from an operation.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Peso (P) divided into
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $8,039,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $3,763,000,000 (1993). Imports; USD $2,118,000,000 (1993). Exports;
USD $644,000,000 (1994). Tourism Receipts; USD $1,148,000,000 (1994). Balance
of Trade; USD $ -1,631,000,000 (1994). Economically Active Population;
2,758,000 or 37.6% of total population (1991 est.). Unemployed; 28.0% (1994).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the USA,
Switzerland, Puerto Rico, Spain, Japan, Belgium, the Netherlands and Venezuela.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Bauxite, Cocoa, Coffee, Cotton, Flowers,
Gold, Mangoes, Maize, Nickel, Oranges, Platinum, Rice, Salt, Silver, Sugar
Beets, Tobacco, Tomatoes.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Cement, Food Processing, Metal Refining,
Mining, Petroleum Products, Textiles, Tobacco Products, Tourism.
MAIN EXPORTS: Bauxite, Cocoa, Coffee, Ferronickel, Gold, Meats,
Nickel, Silver, Sugar, Tobacco.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 1,654 km (1,028 mi) (1987),
passenger-km N/A., cargo ton-km N/A. Roads; length 11,400 km (7,084 mi)
(1986). Vehicles; cars 114,000 (1989), trucks and buses 72,000 (1989).
Merchant Marine; vessels 31 (1990), deadweight tonnage 51,765 (1990). Air
Transport; passenger-km 247,880,000 (154,025,000 passenger-mi) (1988),
cargo ton-km 3,965,000 (2,716,000 short ton-mi) (1988).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 11 with a total circulation
of 265,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 1,180,000 (1994). Television; receivers
728,000 (1994). Telephones; units 552,400 (1993).
MILITARY: 24,500 (1995) total active duty personnel with 61.2%
army, 16.3% navy and 22.5% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 1.4% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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