Dominican Republic is a state of Central America, which occupies the eastern part of the island of Hispaniola, located between Cuba and Puerto Rico. For the physical characteristics ➔ Hispaniola.
With the arrival of the Spaniards, the indigenous residents, perhaps 100,000 (Taino, of the Aruachi group, and Caribi), were practically exterminated and then replaced with African black slaves, which on the date of independence (1844) constituted, together with the Mulattos, about 90% of the population. Subsequently Neri and Mulattos decreased in percentage (today they are about 70%, with a large prevalence of Mulattos), both for the voluntary exodus to nearby Haiti, and, in the period of the dictatorship of RL Trujillo Molina, for the policy of encouragement of the immigration of farmers of European origin.
According to harvardshoes, the demographic trend is characterized by a sustained annual increase (1.5% in 2008). The population is rather irregularly distributed, with strong densities in the southern coastal plain and, above all, in the fertile Cibao valley, N of the Central Cordillera; the lowest densities are found in the provinces of Pedernales and Independencia, located in the arid south-western areas towards the border with Haiti. Since the 1980s, the urbanization process has been intense, which has caused the urban population to rise to over 59%, about a third concentrated in the capital Santo Domingo, the main productive pole of the country. The second city is Santiago de los Caballeros, in the Cibao valley; the other centers have a modest demographic amplitude, even if they play roles of some importance as local markets (San Francisco de Macorís) or maritime ports (La Romana). The religion of the great majority is Catholic.
The growth of cities has gone hand in hand with the decrease in the number of employees in the primary sector, but agriculture continues to be an important activity, even if the sector is very vulnerable, both for natural disasters and for its dependence on world markets., as the main crops are export oriented ones. The prevalent and most profitable crop is that of sugar cane, widespread in particular in the southern coastal plain, whose harvests require a large amount of manpower, which migrates from Haiti seasonally; on the hilly slopes of the Sierra de Bahoruco coffee prevails, while in the inland plains cocoa and tobacco are widespread. Among the subsistence crops, rice, maize, cassava and fruit prevail. Arable land and tree crops cover 30% of the land area, permanent meadows and pastures 43%, forests 13% (precious wood and coloring products); but not all favorable areas are used, despite advances in irrigation. Breeding, favored by the abundance of pastures, is quite developed, especially as regards cattle. The main mineral resource is nickel, coming from the Monseñor Nouel deposit in the Central Cordillera.
Conditioned by the lack of energy, skilled labor and capital, the industrial sector is substantially linked to the transformation of agricultural products (sugar refineries, breweries, oil mills, alcohol and rum distilleries, cotton mills, tobacco factories), except for some ‘ free zones, where the industry shows greater dynamism. The major nationalizations still exist, but privatizations have also started since 2000. The average per capita income, although increasing thanks to US economic aid, is below the Latin American average.
The trade balance is growing in deficit: imports come mainly from the United States, Venezuela, Mexico and Japan (machinery, oil and derivative products); exports are mainly directed to the USA (nickel, sugar and cigars). Good sources of currency are represented by tourism and emigrant remittances. Since 2007 , the D. Republic has joined the CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) which associates it with the USA together with Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.
Communications are guaranteed by a decent road network (about 18,000 km), with arteries that radiate from the capital to the northern, western and eastern regions; the railway network (over 1700 km) is almost entirely at the service of the plantations (transport of products to the ports of embarkation). The main port is that of Santo Domingo. International airport in Punta Caucedo.