The Dominican Republic, the second largest country in the Caribbean, lies to the east of the Caribbean Islands. The country shares its border with Haiti. The republic is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean in the north and the Caribbean Sea in the south. The natives sometimes call their country, Quisqueya. The total land area of the country is 48,730 sq km. Santo Domingo (the capital), Puerto Plata and Santiago are the three important metropolitan centers of the country. It has a population of about 8,833,000, with approximately two-thirds of the total population living in urban areas. The main language spoken is Spanish.
Before the 20th century, non-representative rule prevailed in this country. The Dominican Republic has become a representative democracy recently. Democracy was introduced in the country after the death of the military dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina in 1961. He was the ruler of Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961.
The majority of its people depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Owing to the development of tourism industry and free trade, the service sector has overtaken the agriculture sector. Principal exports of the country include clothing, cigars, coffee, sugar, flowers and vegetables. Petroleum, industrial raw materials, wood, pharmaceuticals and food products are the major import items.
Mixed Europeans and Africans were the original inhabitants of the Dominican Republic.
Most of the people practice Catholicism. The country has a rich tradition in art and culture. Dominicans have always promoted art, music and crafts. The important festivals celebrated in the country are the jazz festival and the merengue festival.
The Dominican Republic is a famous tourist destination. It has sandy beaches, museums, mountains, casinos, national parks and other historical sites. Some of the most frequented tourist destinations of the country are Las Terrenas, Punta Cana, Boca Chica and Bayahibe.