66 Interesting Facts About Dominican Republic

Last updated on June 30th, 2020

The Dominican Republic is the 86th most populous country in the world. It has an area of 48,670 sq km. It is a sovereign state located in the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region. Santo Domingo is its capital and largest city. Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic. The natives or inhabitants of this country are called Dominican. Peso (DOP) is its currency. It has only one bordering country and that is Haiti.

Dominican Pesos in the black wallet
Dominican Pesos in the black wallet

With these interesting facts about the Dominican Republic, let’s explore more about this Hispaniola island nation, which was once ruled by its adjacent nation and had a turbulent time in the past.

66 Interesting facts about the Dominican Republic

1. Before the formation of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the island was jointly named Hispaniola.

2. The Dominican Republic is the only country in the world to have an image of the Holy Bible on its national flag.

The Dominican Republic Flag

Flag of The Dominican Republic
The National flag of the Dominican Republic. Image source – CIA

3. It is also the second-largest island in the Caribbean. Wondering which one is the largest? It is Cuba.

4. The country shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, making Hispaniola the one island shared by two countries. The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island of Hispaniola while the western three-eighths of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti.

5. Street signs and restaurant menus are written in Spanish, which is the country’s official language.

6. People of the country are very loyal to their families.

7. “Catedral de Santa Maria La Menor” in the Dominican Republic is believed to be the oldest cathedral in the Americas. It dates back to 1540. The cathedral can be visited in the capital city of the country – Santo Domingo. At the front side is Columbus bronze statue facing north as well as Taíno native Anacaona the first person from Hispaniola to understand Spanish.

Catedral de Santa Maria la Menor.
Facts about Dominican Republic. Catedral de Santa Maria la Menor. Image credit – Reinhard Link

8. The island country saw difficult days of brutality, conspiracy, and downfall during colonial times. It was affected by a poor economy and political instability even after gaining independence. However, as of today, the country is improving with the help of agriculture and tourism.

9. February 27, 1844, is the official independence day of the D.R.

10. Sugar processing is one of the main industries in the country. Established around a sugar mill, the settlement (batey) is a company town made of houses and barracks. It is very close to the fields of sugarcane, allowing convenience for the group of workers living around the labor sites.

11. People of the island nation prefer living in joint families.

12. The Dominican Republic is a popular destination for weddings and honeymoons.

13. The country is also known the world over for its golf courses that are set along the breathtaking coast.

14. The people of the region are not punctual. Say, if you had a meeting with someone at 8 pm, you could expect them to arrive by 8:45 or 9 pm. Arriving late is a norm in D.R., so do not fret when you have to wait for someone to arrive.

15. D.R. is also known for producing excellent rum. The country’s rum is manufactured using a unique distillation and aging process that brings pleasant taste and smoothness. They are known as the 3 Bs, for Brugal, Barcelo, and Bermudez. The other two respected and high-quality rums are the Vizcaya and Siboney. Tourists who visit the Dominican Republic get a rum tasting opportunity and it is much cheaper at the sources.

16. The northern west part of the island, the Bay of Samana, sees humpback whales that visit the island every year between December and March for mating. There is a sanctuary for whales where the creatures are treated with respect. Tourists can spot both full-grown humpbacks and their newborn calves. Most male humpbacks will be fighting for attention from the females, making it a fun activity to watch. They slap they tails and fins in the air thereby creating thunderous claps.

17. Voting is not permitted to the members of the armed forces and the national police.

Dominican Republic Map
The Dominican Republic on the map with bordering Haiti. (the eastern five-eighths – Dominican Republic, the western three-eighths – Haiti)

18. Do not be surprised if you are handed a few chiclets in return when you pay the bill and there is some change to be given to you. Businesses generally hand over something of equal value to your change when the situation demands.

19. Drinking during the day, at night and on Sundays is completely normal. So, you can very much enjoy your drink at any time during your visit to the country.

20. Honking your horn as loud as possible, in traffic jams, is considered very normal. Though honking won’t clear the traffic, it will still keep you busy during the trying times.

21. Coffee, sugar, and tobacco are the island’s main sources of income. Tourism is also playing an important part in supporting the economy now.

22. Moreover, the capital of the country–Santo Domingo–is the oldest city in the new world. The capital that was founded in 1496 by Bartholomew Columbus carries a rich history. The first colonial rule by Spanish Crown began here and it is no wonder the first cathedral, university, and municipal building were established here.

23. The country experiences warm and sunny conditions for most parts of the year. For this reason, the climate of D.R. is also known as an “endless summer.”

coffee Dominican Republic

24. Coffee is their national drink, and baseball is their national sport.

25. “Dominican flag” is the name of their traditional dish. It is prepared using chicken, beans, and rice.

26. They have a beer named “Presidente.

27. “Merengue” is the name given to the Dominican Republic’s music. It (Merengue) is a Spanish word for whipped egg whites in sugar.

28. The Dominican Republic is the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas.

Columbus Statue and Cathedral, Parque Colon, Santo Domingo, Caribbean.

29. Christopher Columbus visited the island on December 5, 1492. Actually, he founded the island (accidentally), naming it Hispaniola.

30. It is the largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region, and the tenth-largest economy in Latin America.

Caribbean Sunset, Bavaro.
Interesting facts about the Dominican Republic: Caribbean Sunset, Bavaro. Image credit – Joe deSousa

31. A large group of people from the Dominican Republic live in the U.S., sending billions of dollars in remittance to their families.

32. D.R. also served as headquarters for the pirates of the Caribbean during the mid 17th century. Pirates recruited people here for raiding Spanish treasure ships.

33. It is also the most visited destination in the Caribbean.

34. Before independence, the country was known as Santo Domingo.

35. The Colonial City of Santo Domingo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

36. The western third of the island was separated, and a new country—Haiti—was born in 1804. The remaining island at that time was known as Santo Domingo. Haiti ruled over Santo Domingo until 1844 when the region became independent and was named the Dominican Republic.

37. In the area, the island nation is slightly more than twice the size of New Hampshire. It shares a land boundary of 376 km with Haiti.

38. Pico Duarte, at 3,098 m, is the highest point in the country. SirRobert H. Schomburgk was the first climber to the mountain, 1851.

39. More than 50% of the land of the island is used for agriculture, while 40% is covered by forests.

40. Severe storms are experienced in the country between June and October.

41. The Dominican Republic is the oldest European settlement in the Western Hemisphere.

42. The Dominican Republic is the only country in the world to produce a rare blue variety of the silicate mineral pectolite. Its color changes from white, light-blue, green-blue to deep blue.

Lariman specimen
Larimar specimen – a rare blue variety of the silicate mineral Pectolite. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

43. Police in the country are very polite and helpful to locals as well as tourists. Do not be afraid to ask for help, when in need.

Did you know?

44. People of the country are very thankful and religious. You will often read the statement, “God has blessed this business.” This signifies their belief in religion.

45. Abortions are banned in the country, even in cases of rape and serious health problems of pregnant women.

46. An estimated five million people visit the country annually. It ranks 6th overall among the most popular tourist destinations in the Americas. The country’s administration is expecting to reach 10 million annual visitors by 2023. Majority of the tourists come from the United States and Canada.

47. The Amber Museum in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic has an amber stone with a prehistoric mosquito preserved inside of it.

48. The Dominican Republic is known as the “Breadbasket of the Caribbean.”

49. D.R. has the second-largest number of Major League Baseball players. It stands second only to the United States. They have produced many world-famous baseball players.

50. Juan Marichal is the only Dominican player who is a part of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

51. On the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the island by Christopher Columbus, a lighthouse—Faro a Colon—was erected in Santo Domingo.

Dominican Republic facts: Faro a Colon (Columbus Lighthouse) from North-West, April 2017: Its construction began in 1986 and was inaugurated in 1992. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

52. The majority of women in the Dominican Republic have curly hair. However, the women in the region like straight hair. Hence, they visit salons to get the job done.

53. The Dominican Republic is also home to a threatened species of lizard in the family of Iguanidae – the rhinoceros iguana. The lizard varies in length from 60 to 136 centimetres while their skin color could be steely grey, dark green or brown.

A male rhinoceros iguana
Interesting facts about Dominican Republic: a male rhinoceros iguana, Pedernales Province, Dominican Republic, 2007. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

54. Lake Enriquillo is the largest lake and the lowest elevation in the Caribbean. The lake is found in the southwestern part of the country, about 30 minute-drive from the town of La Descubierta. It covers an area of 375 square km. It is the home of at least 400 species of the American crocodile.

55. Legally, the drinking age in the country is 18. And it is illegal in the country to kiss a woman in front of a police officer.

56. Did you know that Haiti, now the neighboring country of the Dominican Republic, also ruled over the country for nearly 20 years?

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