Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of South and Central America

Dominican Republic Country Profile *

Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of South and Central America

Dominican Republic Country Profile *

Article excerpt

United States Department of State

Official Name: Dominican Republic

PROFILE

Geography

Area: 48,442 sq. km. (18,704 sq. mi.), about the size of Vermont and New Hampshire combined.

Cities: Capital-Santo Domingo (pop. 2.25 million). Other city-Santiago de los Caballeros (942,509).

Terrain: Mountainous.

Climate: Maritime tropical.

People

Nationality: Noun and adjective-Dominican(s).

Population (2012 est.): 10.09 million.

Annual population growth rate (2012 est.): 1.3%.

Ethnic groups: Mixed 73%, European 16%, African origin 11%.

Religion: Roman Catholic 95%.

Language: Spanish.

Education: Years compulsory-6. Attendance-70%. Literacy-84.7%.

Health: Infant mortality rate-19/1,000. Life expectancy-75.28 years for men, 79.69 years for women.

Work force: 60.2% services (tourism, transportation, communications, finances, others), 15.5% industry (manufacturing), 11.5% construction, 11.3% agriculture, 1.5% mining.

Government

Type: Representative democracy.

Independence: February 27, 1844. Restoration of independence, August 16, 1863.

Constitution: November 28, 1966 (amended July 25, 2002); 2010.

Branches: Executive-president (chief of state and head of government), vice president, cabinet. Legislative-bicameral Congress (Senate and House of Representatives). Judicial-Supreme Court of Justice.

Subdivisions: 31 provinces and the National District of Santo Domingo.

Political parties: Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC), and several others.

Suffrage: Universal and compulsory, over 18 or married.

Economy (2011)

Nominal GDP: $54.4 billion.

Real GDP growth rate: 4.5%.

Per capita nominal GDP (est.): $5,780.

Agriculture (7.3% of real GDP): Products-rice, poultry, sugar, cacao, tobacco, coffee.

Non-manufacturing industry (4.5% of real GDP): Construction and mining.

Manufacturing industry (21.3% of real GDP): Beverages and tobacco, free trade zone (FTZ) textiles and wearing apparel, sugar, coke and refined petroleum products, grains.

Services (64.7% of real GDP): Communications, commerce, tourism, real estate, transport and storage.

Trade: Exports-US $7.792 billion (f.o.b.), including free trade zones: FTZ exports (textiles, electronic products, jewelry, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, shoes), cacao, sugar, tobacco, coffee. Markets-US (52.3%, including Puerto Rico) Haiti, Western Europe.

Imports-US $18.38 billion (f.o.b.), including free trade zones: petroleum and petroleum-derived products, durable consumer goods (automobiles, etc.), foodstuffs.

Suppliers-US (44%, including Puerto Rico), Venezuela, Taiwan, China, Mexico, Colombia.

People

Slightly fewer than half of Dominicans live in rural areas; many are small landholders. Haitians form the largest foreign minority group. All religions are tolerated; the state religion is Roman Catholicism.

History

The island of Hispaniola, of which the Dominican Republic forms the eastern two-thirds and Haiti the remainder, was originally occupied by Tainos, an Arawak-speaking people. The Tainos welcomed Columbus in his first voyage in 1492, but subsequent colonizers were brutal, reducing the Taino population from about 1 million to about 500 in 50 years. To ensure adequate labor for plantations, the Spanish brought African slaves to the island beginning in 1503.

In the next century, French settlers occupied the western end of the island, which Spain ceded to France in 1697, and which, in 1804, became the Republic of Haiti. The Haitians conquered the whole island in 1822 and held it until 1844, when forces led by Juan Pablo Duarte, the hero of Dominican independence, drove them out and established the Dominican Republic as an independent state. In 1861, the Dominicans voluntarily returned to the Spanish Empire; in 1865, independence was restored. …

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