Known as the country of endless summer due to its year-round tropical weather, the Dominican Republic is a vibrant Caribbean country known for its striking beaches, world-famous landmarks and picturesque resorts.
Since declaring independence from Haiti on 27 February 1844, the country had had its share of economic problems and various changes of governments. Nevertheless, it persevered, and today is said to consider itself to be the ‘breadbasket of the Caribbean’ due to being able to grow, farm and catch all food sources served throughout the country.
Here are some more facts about the Dominican Republic.
Dominican Republic facts
1. It is situated next to Haiti on the island of Hispaniola
Hispaniola is located in the Caribbean island group and is considered one of the larger islands in the Caribbean Sea. The Dominican Republic is positioned to the east of this island, neighbouring Haiti that is located on the west side of Hispaniola.
2. The Dominican Republic is the only country that has the image of a Bible on its flag
An interesting fact about Dominican Republic is that the open Bible shown on the flag’s coat of arms depicts text from the Gospel of John 8: 32, which is “And the truth shall make you free”. The flag was designed by one of the country’s founding fathers, Juan Pablo Duarte, and each colour on the flag has important significance too. Blue signifies liberty, red the blood of heroes who fought for the country’s independence, and white symbolises salvation.
3. Politician Robert Trujillo was one of its most brutal dictators
Known as a ruthless leader, Robert Trujillo has been called the Little Caesar of the Caribbean. He ruled the country for just over 30 years and didn’t allow freedom of speech or free press. Trujillo also had several nicknames: El Jefe (“The Chief”), El Benefactor (“The Benefactor”) Chapitas (“Bottlecaps”), due to his undiscerning wearing of medals)and El Chivo (“The Goat”)
4. The country’s capital is home to the oldest cathedral in the Americas
The Basilica Cathedral of Santa María la Menor can be found in Santo Domingo, which is the Dominican Republic’s capital. Although it was commissioned in 1504 by Pope Julius II, its construction was only finished in 1541. Today, visitors can still get a glimpse of its Renaissance and Gothic-inspired design thanks to cathedral tours that offer entry to outside and inside areas.
5. The Dominican Republic’s Santo Domingo colonial city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
An interesting fact about Dominican Republic is that the oldest permanent European settlement in the Americas can be found in Santo Domingo’s colonial city, or Ciudad Colonial in Spanish. Several historical landmarks can be found in this World Heritage site, including the Ozama Fortress, which is said to be the oldest European military building in the Americas, and a statue honouring explorer Christopher Columbus, to name a few.
6. It has a town with a ‘magnetic pole’
Polo, a town in the Barahona Province in the south-western of the Dominican Republic, is famous for having El Polo Magnético – which translates to a ‘magnetic pole’, an interesting fact about Dominican Republic. This area is located on a mountain near the town. If you park a vehicle in neutral gear at a specific spot, it will create the illusion that the car is rolling up the hill. This is called a gravity hill, which is an optical illusion influenced by the shape of the hill as well as the area surrounding it.
7. The well-known Merengue music and dance originated in the Dominican Republic
The famous, fast-paced Merengue music style is known for its quintillo – a repeating five-beat rhythm pattern. Musicians usually perform merengue music with instruments such as a diatonic accordion, a Tambora (which is a two-sided drum) and a güira (also called a metal scraper). Its popular dance component, the Merengue dance style, is also the Dominican Republic’s national dance.
8. The Palmchat is the country’s national bird
This small, long-tailed songbird is very social and can often be seen feeding in flocks on berries and flowers. About 8 inches long, the Palmchat can easily be recognised by its strong, yellow beak, greenish-brown plumage on the upper part of its body and whitish feathers with darker streaks below. Known as Cigua Palmera in Spanish, the Palmchat is unique to the island of Hispaniola.
9. Baseball is the most popular sport in the Dominican Republic
The first amateur baseball tournaments were held in the 1940s, as a tribute to Rafael Trujillo. Trujillo was at the forefront of developing the country’s first baseball stadium. Since then, several Dominican baseball players have had the honour to be included in Major League Baseball. Furthermore, over 65 Dominican players have had the honour to participate in MLB All-Stars, a fun Dominican Republic fact.
10. Dominican Amber and Larimar are two endemic stones found in this country
Both Dominican Amber and Larimar (an unusual blue pectolite variety) are seen in jewellery sold across the Dominican Republic. Dominican Amber is mined in La Cumbre, whereas Los Chupaderos is one of the main sites where blue pectolite is mined.
11. Its hyper saline Lake Enriquillo has a massive crocodile population
Spanning about 375 km2, Lake Enriquillo is said to have the Caribbean’s largest population of American crocodiles, a fun fact about Dominican Republic. Numerous bird species, as well as iguana species that are unique to Hispaniola (including the endangered rhinoceros iguana), can also be found near Lake Enriquillo.
12. Famous fashion designer Oscar de la Renta was born in the Dominican Republic
The late Óscar Arístides Renta Fiallo, who was known professionally as designer Oscar de la Renta, was born in Santo Domingo in 1932. He was the first Dominican to design haute couture for a French fashion house, having designed collections for Balmain between 1993 and 2002.
The Dominican Republic is a country that proudly preserved its heritage and continues to honour its history with several landmarks and monuments dedicated to important figures from its past. Its popularity and attraction as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean is another accomplishment of this country that proves its importance to a worldwide audience.
I hope that this article on Dominican Republic facts was helpful! If you are interested, visit the Country Facts Page!