History and Politics
Expats moving to the Dominican Republic not only find themselves in one of the biggest countries of the Caribbean, but they also end up in one of the first places Christopher Columbus’ ships landed in 1492. The Spanish conquerors moving to the Dominican Republic in 1493 laid the foundations for today’s Santo Domingo. In the centuries that followed, the country was subject to annexation, premature declarations of independence, and revolutionary upheavals.
But even after the last long-term occupation, the country did not come to a rest. The Dominican Republic’s 31 year totalitarian rule by Rafael Trujillo was followed by rulers who won by flawed elections, were overthrown by military coups, or had to go into exile. Free elections have only been held since 1996! After Leonel Fernández' several terms in office, Danilo Medina was elected president in May 2012 and took office in August of the same year.
Geography and Climate
Upon moving to the Dominican Republic, you should experience a semitropical climate. The Dominican Republic enjoys a tropical climate all year round, with average temperatures ranging from 66° to 93° F (19° to 34° C). The coldest season is between November and April, and the hottest season is between May and October. August is the hottest month. From May to November, you can expect heavy rain falls, particularly in the country’s north. If you move to the Dominican Republic in August and September, you may experience severe storms and hurricanes.
Time ZoneLocal time is GMT -4. It is an hour ahead of Atlantic Standard Time in the United States in the winter. Unlike the United States and Europe, the Dominican Republic does NOT observe daylight saving time.
Capital CityThe capital of the Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the New World. Greater Santo Domingo has a population of around three million people..
GovernmentThe Dominican Republic is a representative democracy. There are three branches of government: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Every four years the country elects its president, vice president, legislators and city government officials. President Danilo Medina and Vice President Margarita Cedeño were elected for a four-year term that began on 16 August 2012 and ends on 16 August 2016. The Constitution does not allow for consecutive re-election.
LanguageSpanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic. However, you’ll be surprised how many hotel and tourist destination employees speak English, French, German and Italian. If you decide to venture out of the tourist areas, it is helpful to learn some basic phrases in Spanish.
CurrencyThe Dominican Peso (RD$) is the official currency of the Dominican Republic. You can find the peso exchange rate for several international currencies at www.bancentral.gov.do/tasas_cambio/TMC4001.PDF
Major credit cards are accepted at most tourist locations, but it is best to check in advance at small hotels, restaurants and shops.
ATMs are located in almost all of the Dominican Republic’s cities, as well as at most resorts. Large supermarkets have ATMs that are open until late.
Tourism Statistics4,064,754 non-resident foreigners flew to the Dominican Republic in 2013. A further 625,016 non-resident Dominicans also chose to visit in 2013. The Dominican Republic received 26.81% of the record number of 15,663,409 million visitors to the Caribbean region in 2013.
Most air arrivals landed at the Punta Cana airport, 63.6% of all air traffic. Santo Domingo was the second destination of arrivals with 19.7%, followed by Puerto Plata 8.7%, Santiago 4.1%, La Romana 2.3% and Samaná 1.3%.
In 2013, most tourists visiting the country by air came from:
In 2013, seaport activity was:
|Santo Domingo||58,267 passengers|
|La Romana||252,932 passengers|
The National Hotel & Tourism Association (ASONAHORES) reports there are 716 hotels with a total of 67,792 hotel rooms in the Dominican Republic as of December 2013.