Dominican Republic, republic (1995 est. pop. 7,511,000), 18,700 sq mi (48,442 sq km), West Indies, on the eastern two thirds of the island of Hispaniola . The capital and largest city is Santo Domingo.
Land and People
The land ranges from mountainous to gently rolling, with fertile river valleys. It has a moderate subtropical climate, ample rainfall, and fertile soils. Periodic hurricanes can cause extensive damage. The country is administratively divided into 29 provinces and one district. The majority of the population is of mixed African and European descent. Spanish is the official language and Roman Catholicism the state religion. Population growth is a continuing problem in the Dominican Republic, and emigration to the United States, particularly to New York City, has been high.
The country is largely agricultural; sugarcane is the chief crop, and sugar is the chief product and export. However, sugar production has sharply declined in recent years. Other major crops are coffee, cocoa, bananas, tobacco, and rice. There are deposits of rock salt, bauxite, copper, platinum, zinc, gold, silver, and nickel; mining has gained importance in recent years. The growth of the nation's free-market zones has encouraged the growth of various light industries, particularly the manufacture of clothing. Since the late 1960s tourism has become increasingly important to the economy, and several international resort areas have been built. The United States and Great Britain are the main trading partners.
The country is governed under the 1966 constitution. The president, senate, and chamber of deputies are all directly elected for four-year terms. The major parties are the conservative Social Christian Reformist party, organized by Joaquín Balaguer the rival and social-democratic Dominican Revolutionary party, organized by Juan Bosch (both men served as president of the country), and the centrist Dominican Liberation party.