|General info about the Dominican Republic|
Capital City: Santo Domingo
Santo Domingo Population: 2.2 million
Area: 18,810 square miles
Telephone Calling Code(s): 809, 829
Electricity: 110 V, 60 Hz
The ethnic composition of the Dominican population is, 73% of Mixed race, 16% White and 11% Black. Other ethnic groups in the Dominican Republic include Haitians, Spaniards, Germans, Italians, French, Jews, and Americans. A smaller presence of East Asians (primarily ethnic Chinese and Japanese) and Middle Easterners (primarily Lebanese) can be found throughout the population.
In recent decades, re-immigration from Haiti has increased once again. Most Haitian immigrants arrive in the Dominican Republic illegally, and work at low-paying, unskilled labor jobs, including construction work, household cleaning, and on sugar plantations. Current estimates put the Haitian-born population in the Dominican Republic as high as 1 million
The climate is tropical maritime. The rainy season is between May and November.
Wet season is from May to November, and periodic hurricanes between June and November. Most rain falls in the northern and eastern regions. The average rainfall is 1346 mm, with extremes of 2500 mm in the northeast and 500 mm in the west. The mean annual temperature ranges from 21°C in the mountainous regions to 25°C on the plains and the coast. The average temperature in Santo Domingo in January is 23.9°C and 27.2°C in July.
The Dominican Republic is in the Caribbean. It occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola; Haiti occupies the western part of the island. Cuba and Jamaica are to the west of the Dominican Republic; Puerto Rico is to the east. The whole country measures an area of 44,442 km² making it the second largest country in the Antilles after Cuba.
The country's mainland has three mountain ranges, those being Cordillera Central (starting from Haiti towards east crossing the island), Cordillera Septentrional, and Cordillera Oriental in the East. In between the Central and Septentrional mountain ranges lies the rich and fertile Cibao valley. This major valley is home to the city of Santiago de los Caballeros and to most of the farming areas in the nation. The country's capital and greatest metropolitan area, Santo Domingo, is located at the southern shore.
Santo Domingo is the capital city. Other important cities are Santiago, San Pedro de Macoris, La Romana, Puerto Plata, Barahona, La Vega, San Francisco and Higuey.
The terrain consists of highlands and mountains with fertile valleys. The Yaque del Norte is the longest river.
The Dominican Republic is divided into 31 provinces. The provinces are divided into municipalities, each with it’s own municipal government.
The Dominican peso is the national currency of the country, although US dollars (USD) are acceptable in most tourist sites. The peso was worth the same as the USD at one time, but has recently decreased in value. The exchange rate in 1993 was 14.00 pesos per USD and 16.00 pesos in 2000, but it jumped to 53.00 pesos per USD in 2003 . In 2004, the exchange rate was back down to around 31.00 pesos per USD.
The DR is just a quick hop away from the U.S., and thanks to daily flights on JetBlue and other carriers, it's quickly becoming a major weekend destination for norteños looking to escape the winter chill. The country has seven international airports (unusual for such a tiny country), but it's really only Las Américas International (serving Santo Domingo), Punta Cana International, Gregorio Luperón International (serving Puerto Plata), and Santiago International
Before entering the country at ports or airports, visitors are required to fill out embarkation/disembarkation forms (to show with a photo ID or passport) and purchase a Tourist Card, good for 30 days of travel in the DR. (It's essential that each visitor has $10 to pay for the Tourist Card. No coins or other currency, including Dominican pesos, can be used.) Tourist Cards are available at booths in the airports and ports.
Americans over age 25 can easily rent a car in the DR as long as they have a valid driver's license. Major car rental companies have airport, hotel, and city locations.
Dominican Republic has five major highways. These 5 highways round the Countries and take you to any important town of the Country. The three Major Highways are Autopista Duarte, Autopista Del Este, and Autopista Del Sur which take you to the North, East, and western side of the Country. Dominican Republic lacks a good system of Routes interconnecting small towns and most of these routes are unpaved. Be advised, road conditions can be bad. If you plan to travel to any areas not accessible from these roads, you'll need to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Current environmental issues are water shortages, soil eroding into the sea damageing coral reefs and deforestation. Bajos de Haina, 12 miles west of Santo Domingo, was included on the Blacksmith Institute's list of the world's 10 most polluted places, released in October 2006, due to lead poisoning by a battery recycling smelter closed in 1999. As the site never was cleaned up children continue to be born with high lead levels causing learning disabilities, impaired physical growth and kidney damage.
The highest mountain in the Caribbean—10,164-foot Pico Duarte (3,175 m)
Lake Enriquillo, one of the largest lakes in the Dominican Republic, is a salt water lake.
Everyday food eaten in the Dominican Republic is rice and beans, fried plantain and cassava bread.
Sancochos, a national dish, is a stew containing a number of different meats and vegetables. Chicken, goat, pork and beef are used in recipes. Fish is also part of the diet.
Vegetables include dasheen, onions, peppers, sweet potatoes and tomatoes. Breadfruit is also grown.
Sweet puddings are made with rice and caramel custard. Bananas, mangoes, pineapples and oranges are plentiful.
Coffee is grown in the Dominican Republic. Coconut juice and other juices are available. Dominican beer (Presidente) and rum are produced locally.
Dominican cuisine has been greatly influenced by its rich history, resulting in Taino and (predominantly) Spanish-influenced dishes. La bandera (the flag), the country's national dish, consists of white rice, red beans, stewed meat, and fritos verdes (fried green plantains). Sancocho, a derivative of the Spanish cocido (stew), is made of meat, plantains, and vegetables. (Each region of the country has its peculiar way of preparing it, including the must-try sancocho prieto, made of seven different local meats.) On the coast, fish and conch are enjoyed, and coconut is used to sweeten many seafood dishes. Samaná's pescado con coco (fish with coconut sauce) is an especially well-known dish. Dishes made with plantains are ubiquitous, and include the popular mangú (a purée of boiled green plantains) and mofongo (mashed plantains). Yaniqueques (disks of deep-fried dough) are often sold on the beaches; casabe (flat round cassava bread) and catibias (cassava-flour fritters stuffed with meat) are staple Taino-derived foods; and locrio, a traditional rice dish adapted to the local produce of the Dominican Republic, is the missing link to the traditional Spanish paella. Also be sure to try pastelitos (meat or cheese-filled pastries) and quipes (small, football-shaped patties of ground beef and cracked wheat, with the consistency of falafel). Bigger appetites will appreciate chimichurris, delicious spit-cooked pork sandwiches.
More than half of the handmade cigars sold in the U.S. are from the DR (including the popular Fuentes, Davidoffs, Romeo y Julieta 1875s, and Macanudos), and because prices are dramatically less expensive than overseas, visitors should score a few stogies to bring home. Additionally, Dominicans boast that their amber is 90 percent more transparent than amber from other parts of the world (you can be the judge if this is true).
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