The Dominican Republic is a proud country and one of the most beautiful and popular vacation destinations in the world. While there are many factors that make the Dominican Republic one of the best countries in the world to vacation to, the biggest reasons are the wonderful weather, the gorgeous scenery and the vibrant culture. No one who has visited the Dominican Republic will be able to easily forget it. If you’re interested in taking a vacation that will live in your memory forever, then the Dominican Republic is waiting for you. If you’d like to know more about the country before you visit, however, then you’ll enjoy this comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about this wonderful country.
The Dominican Republic is near South America, a region of the world recognized for pleasant climates and breath-taking scenery. Its capital is the city of Santo Domingo. The official language is Spanish, though English and other languages are spoken in places tourists enjoy. At less than 19,000 square miles, the Dominican Republic is a smaller country—though it makes up for its small size in many ways. The local population is under 10 million, making tourists a large contribution to total population. The Dominican Republic is in the Atlantic (UTC-4) time zone, and the official currency is the peso. At this time, the US dollar is equivalent to approximately 40 pesos.
The Dominican Republic is nestled comfortably in the waters between the US and the South American continent on a large island known as La Hispaniola (part of the Greater Antilles). It is located in the Caribbean Sea, with that sea on its southern coast and the Atlantic Ocean on its northern coast. It shares its large island with the nation of Haiti on the westernmost side. On the left, it is bordered by the island of Cuba. On the right, it is bordered by the island of Puerto Rico. Its location produces a variety of amenities in weather and opportunities, which will be explained further on.
As a popular vacation destination, The Dominican Republic has its share of both classic and modern resorts with a huge range of specialties and activities that meet the needs of both the budgeters and those willing and able to spend as much money as it takes for a wonderful time. Most Dominican resorts take advantage of the popular waterfronts for views and access to the warm ocean. We offer many vacation packages that correspond to some of the most popular and highly rated resorts in the Dominican Republic, so be sure to search our selection for one that fits your needs.
The unique national character of the Dominican Republic is no doubt a product of its rich history. The island was one of those chosen by Christopher Columbus to anchor his ships, and it soon became the site of the first permanent settlement by Europeans in all of the New World. Because of this unique place in American history, what is now the Dominican Republic was once the site of most of the first events to happen in the western hemisphere, and a launching port for many of the explorations that followed in the next couple centuries.
The later history of the island is tumultuous. There were many wars fought on its surface. The island was passed from the control of Spain to France, and revolutions were fought to remove both Spain and France from the Island. After independence still more strife was caused by a Haitian occupation and several following invasions. The Dominicans were also a very politically charged people, and until the late 1900’s, most governments fought for legitimacy amidst a series of problems and poor leadership.
The Dominicans of today are still a politically active people, but they have known peace and great improvements in leadership which have allowed them to march onto the world stage as a modern nation. Today’s Dominican Republic has a robust service economy, enviable economic growth and one of the most modern telecommunication systems in the Caribbean.
The Dominican Republic enjoys tropical climates that make average temperatures on the island a comfortable average 77°F. Both warmer and cooler temperatures are possible though. Truly cold temperatures, which still rarely drop below 40°F, are possible on the mountains, but uncommon anywhere else.
An important consideration in planning your vacation to the Dominican Republic is the systematic wet seasons the country experiences. If you wish to take your vacation on the northern coast, then consider avoiding the months of November through January. If you will be taking your vacation on the eastern or southern coast, then you may want to avoid the months of May through November. The month of May in particular ought to be avoided, as it is the wettest month in the calendar.
The Dominican Republic has a population estimated at near 10,000,000. Somewhat more than a third of this population lives in the capital city of Santa Domingo. The population is made up of many different peoples, reflecting the countries legacy as one of the first settlements of the new world. The populations are made of descendants of the island natives, freed slaves, and some of the first Spaniards to have ever left their shores for the new world. This eclectic mix has produced a vibrant culture that stands out to anyone who visits.
The religion of the Dominican Republic reflects its Spanish origins. Catholics make up nearly 70% of religious population, followed by evangelical Christians at nearly 20%. The remaining ~10% is made up of the irreligious or various smaller religions. Owing to its history, the Dominican Republic houses many old churches of significance to those interested in Catholic history and architecture. The National Pantheon, which now house statues of heroes of the Dominican Revolution, was once a Catholic Church itself. It is now one of the countries’ most cherished monuments.
The cuisine of the Dominican Republic is a creative mix of Spanish, African and native influences. Meat is prized in many Dominican dishes, and is frequently cooked and arranged in many different ways. Curing is a popular preparation for other uses, and the Dominicans are known for their fine salamis. Rice is also a local staple, and a treasured part of the traditional Dominican lunch along with red beans and a fried meat. Most of the meats are cooked in the native Dominican “sofrito”, which is an incredibly flavorful wet rub that is used to bring all the flavors of the meat into play. Healthier parts of the Dominican diet employ creative uses of local fruits and different types of salads.
While the Dominican Republic is generally safe, there are some measures that should be taken to ensure general safety. The U.S state department has published a list of tips for safety in the Dominican Republic which include reminders not to flaunt valuables (headphones, gold watches, and eye-catching purses). Pick-pocketing and mugging are the most common crimes, and tourists are reminded not to go anywhere with strangers. A full list of travel tips for the Dominican Republic is available on the travel.state.gov website for US citizens. Citizens of other nations are recommended to consult their countries’ embassy service for travel tips.
Many health problems in the Dominican Republic are related to insect exposure. Limiting open skin and wearing strong repellants will prevent most problems. Tap water should be avoided, but bottled water and other beverages are plentiful and safe.
A visa is required to enter the Dominican Republic, though it can be purchased at the airport upon arrival. To get one while still in the United States, you must contact the Dominican consulate in Washington D.C. to have one provided for you. The visas, called “tourist cards”, currently cost $10 and allow a stay as long as 60 days. Staying longer than this will result in fines on departure at the airports.