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Dominican Republic

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Dominican Republic

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Quick Facts
CapitalSanto Domingo
Governmentrepresentative democracy
CurrencyDominican peso (DOP)
Areatotal: 48,730 sq km
land: 48,380 sq km
water: 350 sq km
Population8,721,594 (July 2002 est.)
ReligionRoman Catholic 95%

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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. 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.


Map of Dominican Republic
Caribbean, eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Haiti
Geographic coordinates 
19 00 N, 70 40 W
Map references 
Central America and the Caribbean
total: 48,730 sq km
land: 48,380 sq km
water: 350 sq km
Area - comparative 
slightly more than twice the size of New Hampshire
Land boundaries 
total: 360 km
border countries: Haiti 360 km
1,288 km
Maritime claims 
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 6 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical maritime; little seasonal temperature variation; seasonal variation in rainfall
rugged highlands and mountains with fertile valleys interspersed
Elevation extremes 
lowest point: Lago Enriquillo -46 m
highest point: Pico Duarte 3,175 m
Natural resources 
nickel, bauxite, gold, silver
Land use 
arable land: 21.08%
permanent crops: 9.92%
other: 69% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land 
2,590 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards 
lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding; periodic droughts
Environment - current issues 
water shortages; soil eroding into the sea damages coral reefs; deforestation; Hurricane Georges damage
Environment - international agreements 
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note 
shares island of Hispaniola with Haiti (eastern two-thirds is the Dominican Republic, western one-third is Haiti)


8,721,594 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure 
0-14 years: 33.7% (male 1,503,344; female 1,439,157)
15-64 years: 61.3% (male 2,720,308; female 2,621,539)
65 years and over: 5% (male 206,556; female 230,690) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate 
1.61% (2002 est.)
Birth rate 
24.4 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate 
4.68 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate 
-3.59 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio 
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate 
33.41 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth 
total population: 73.68 years
female: 75.91 years (2002 est.)
male: 71.57 years
Total fertility rate 
2.94 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 
2.8% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 
130,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths 
4,900 (1999 est.)
noun: Dominican(s)
adjective: Dominican
Ethnic groups 
white 16%, black 11%, mixed 73%
Roman Catholic 95%
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 82.1%
male: 82%
female: 82.2% (1995 est.)


Country name 
conventional long form: Dominican Republic
conventional short form: none
local long form: Republica Dominicana
local short form: none
Government type 
representative democracy
Santo Domingo
Administrative divisions 
29 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 district* (distrito); Azua, Baoruco, Barahona, Dajabon, Distrito Nacional*, Duarte, Elias Pina, El Seibo, Espaillat, Hato Mayor, Independencia, La Altagracia, La Romana, La Vega, Maria Trinidad Sanchez, Monsenor Nouel, Monte Cristi, Monte Plata, Pedernales, Peravia, Puerto Plata, Salcedo, Samana, Sanchez Ramirez, San Cristobal, San Juan, San Pedro de Macoris, Santiago, Santiago Rodriguez, Valverde
27 February 1844 (from Haiti)
National holiday 
Independence Day, 27 February (1844)
28 November 1966
Legal system 
based on French civil codes
18 years of age, universal and compulsory; married persons regardless of age
note: members of the armed forces and police cannot vote
Executive branch 
chief of state: President Rafael Hipolito MEJIA Dominguez (since 16 August 2000); Vice President Milagros ORTIZ-BOSCH (since 16 August 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Rafael Hipolito MEJIA Dominguez (since 16 August 2000); Vice President Milagros ORTIZ-BOSCH (since 16 August 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms; election last held 16 May 2000 (next to be held NA May 2004)
election results: Raphael Hipolito MEJIA Dominguez elected president; percent of vote - Rafael Hipolito MEJIA Dominguez (PRD) 49.87%, Danilo MEDINA (PLD) 24.95%, Joaquin BALAGUER (PRSC) 24.6%
Legislative branch 
bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate or Senado (30 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (149 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 16 May 2002 (next to be held NA May 2006); Chamber of Deputies - last held 16 May 2002 (next to be held NA May 2006)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PRD 24, PLD 3, PRSC 3; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PRD 83, PLD 49, PRSC 17
Judicial branch 
Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (judges are elected by a Council made up of members of the legislative and executive branches with the president presiding)
Political parties and leaders 
Dominican Liberation Party or PLD [Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna]; Dominican Revolutionary Party or PRD [Hatuey DE CAMPS]; Social Christian Reformist Party or PRSC [Joaquin BALAGUER Ricardo]
Political pressure groups and leaders 
Collective of Popular Organizations or COP
International organization participation 
ACP, Caricom (observer), ECLAC, FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO (subscriber), ITU, LAES, LAIA (observer), NAM (observer), OAS, OPANAL, OPCW (signatory), PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIK, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO
Diplomatic representation in the US 
chief of mission: Ambassador Hugo GUILIANI Cury
consulate(s): Mobile and Ponce (Puerto Rico)
consulate(s) general: Boston, Chicago, Jacksonville, Mayaguez (Puerto Rico), Miami, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico)
FAX: [1] (202) 265-8057
telephone: [1] (202) 332-6280
chancery: 1715 22nd Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
Diplomatic representation from the US 
chief of mission: Ambassador Hans H. HERTELL
embassy: corner of Calle Cesar Nicolas Penson and Calle Leopoldo Navarro, Santo Domingo
mailing address: Unit 5500, APO AA 34041-5500
telephone: [1] (809) 221-2171
FAX: [1] (809) 686-7437
Flag description 
a centered white cross that extends to the edges divides the flag into four rectangles - the top ones are blue (hoist side) and red, and the bottom ones are red (hoist side) and blue; a small coat of arms is at the center of the cross


Economy - overview 
The Dominican economy experienced dramatic growth over the last decade, even though the economy was hit hard by Hurricane Georges in 1998. Although the country has long been viewed primarily as an exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, in recent years the service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy's largest employer, due to growth in tourism and free trade zones. The country suffers from marked income inequality; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GNP, while the richest 10% enjoy 40% of national income. A US $500 million foreign bond issue in September 2001 will contribute to increased public investment spending.
purchasing power parity - $50 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate 
1.5% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita 
purchasing power parity - $5,800 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector 
agriculture: 11%
industry: 34%
services: 55% (2000) (2000)
Population below poverty line 
Household income or consumption by percentage share 
lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 40% (1989) (1989)
Distribution of family income - Gini index 
47 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 
5% (2001 est.)
Labor force 
2.3 million - 2.6 million
Labor force - by occupation 
services and government 59%, industry 24%, agriculture 17% (1998 est.)
Unemployment rate 
15% (2001 est.)
revenues: $2.9 billion
expenditures: $3.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.1 billion (2001 est.)
tourism, sugar processing, ferronickel and gold mining, textiles, cement, tobacco
Industrial production growth rate 
2% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production 
9.475 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source 
fossil fuel: 87%
hydro: 13%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption 
8,812.029 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports 
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports 
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products 
sugarcane, coffee, cotton, cocoa, tobacco, rice, beans, potatoes, corn, bananas; cattle, pigs, dairy products, beef, eggs
$5.5 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities 
ferronickel, sugar, gold, silver, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, meats, consumer goods
Exports - partners 
US 87.3%, Netherlands 1.1%, Canada 0.7%, France 0.7% (2000 est.)
$8.7 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities 
foodstuffs, petroleum, cotton and fabrics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals
Imports - partners 
US 60.5%, Japan 10.4%, Mexico 4.7%, Venezuela 3% (2000 est.)
Debt - external 
$5.4 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient 
$239.6 million (1995) (1995)
Dominican peso (DOP)
Currency code 
Exchange rates 
Dominican pesos per US dollar - 17.310 (January 2002), 16.952 (2001), 16.415 (2000), 16.033 (1999), 15.267 (1998), 14.265 (1997)
Fiscal year 
calendar year


Telephones - main lines in use 
709,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular 
130,149 (1997)
Telephone system 
general assessment: NA
domestic: relatively efficient system based on islandwide microwave radio relay network
international: 1 coaxial submarine cable; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations 
AM 120, FM 56, shortwave 4 (1998)
1.44 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations 
25 (1997)
770,000 (1997)
Internet country code 
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) 
24 (2000)
Internet users 
186,000 (2002)


total: 757 km
standard gauge: 375 km 1.435-m gauge (Central Romana Railroad)
miscellaneous gauge: 240 km operated by sugar companies in various gauges (0.558-m, 0.762-m, 1.067-m gauges) (2000 est.)
narrow gauge: 142 km 0.762-m gauge (Dominican Republic Government Railway)
total: 12,600 km
paved: 6,224 km
unpaved: 6,376 km (1996)
crude oil 96 km; petroleum products 8 km
Ports and harbors 
Barahona, La Romana, Manzanillo, Puerto Plata, San Pedro de Macoris, Santo Domingo
Merchant marine 
total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,587 GRT/1,165 DWT
ships by type: cargo 1 (2002 est.)
29 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways 
total: 13
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways 
total: 17
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 4
under 914 m: 10 (2002)


Military branches 
Army, Navy, Air Force, National Police
Military manpower - military age 
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability 
males age 15-49: 2,323,088 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service 
males age 15-49: 1,455,887 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually 
males: 87,404 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure 
$180 million (FY98)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP 
1.1% (FY98)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international 
Illicit drugs 
transshipment point for South American drugs destined for the US and Europe; has become a transshipment point for ecstasy from the Netherlands and Belgium destined for US and Canada; substantial money-laundering activity; Colombian narcotics traffickers favor the Dominican Republic for illicit financial transactions