Dominican Republic – geography
The Dominican Republic is located on the island of Hispaniola, strategically located at the entrance of the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, from where Columbus ‘ and his successors’ first exploration and conquest of the New World emerged.
Several mountain ranges cut through the land along fertile valleys in between; Pico Duarte, the highest point in the Caribbean (3175 m), is located in the middle of the island. The salt lake Enriquillo near the Haitian border is located 44 m below sea level. The climate is tropical and large areas are covered by forest. The country is not nearly as deforested as the neighboring republic of Haiti, and the border between the two can therefore be quite clearly recognized from the air.
The native Native American people of Taino succumbed in the first decades of Spanish colonization and have left no traces. Official statistics show a population of 16% white, 11% black and 73% of mixed African-European descent, but the boundaries are fluid. The black population are descendants of the many African slaves who were imported to the sugar plantations; Hispaniola was among the world’s largest sugar producers. The population is young, but in the context of developing countries, growth is moderate and also slightly declining. Many immigrate legally or illegally in the United States, and New York is probably the city in the world with the second most Dominicans, surpassed only by the capital Santo Domingo. From the poorer neighboring country Haiti many permanent or temporary and often illegal immigrants come to the Dominican Republic. As loose workers in the sugar fields, they form an oppressed group.
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GDP per per capita is about $ 1,000, and the country is among the poorest in Central America. However, the infrastructure is quite well developed and the country has benefited from the rapid development of the Caribbean tourism sector. While Cuba has been closed to the Americans for political reasons, tourism has developed into the largest contribution to the Dominican Republic’s economy. Sugar remains a significant export commodity, but nickel is more important just like commodities made in the over 30 industrial zones, where foreign investors are offered almost total tax exemption and are attracted by the low wages. Since the late 1990’s, the country has enjoyed significant economic growth, mainly due to revenues from tourism and export production in the country’s free zones.. Poverty and unemployment, however, are still pronounced, among the many immigrants from Haiti. In 2001, 25% of the population had an income below the UN poverty line.
Agriculture is characterized by low productivity due to limited investment and a skewed land distribution. A significant part of imports is made up of food. In addition to sugar cane, coffee, cocoa, rice and corn. Demands for land reforms have been met by conservatives as a manifestation of communism; it was the background to a military intervention by the United States in 1965. For culture and traditions of Dominican Republic, please check calculatorinc.
Persistent deficits in the state budget and in the current account of the balance of payments caused major problems with the external debt in the early 1990’s, and the IMF’s (International Monetary Fund) demands for savings had to be complied with, leading to significant social unrest.
As a former Spanish colony, the Dominican Republic is a party to the EU Lomé Convention, where sugar exports have preferential access to the EU market. The country is also part of the United States Caribbean Basin Initiative Project on developing trade in the region.