The Dominican Republic in the Past and in the Present

The Dominican Republic combines the old and new worlds in its friendly, resilient culture

Photo credit: © Jan Kranendonk |

The island of Hispaniola is home to two countries with an interconnected past. The history of the island is complicated, but from the ashes of a Spanish colony arose the country we now call the Dominican Republic.


A little island history will help explain this cultural concoction: Hispaniola was home to more than one million natives when Columbus first arrived, and over time, European diseases and fighting took a toll on the indigenous people. The Spanish and French fought for the island after gold had all been mined, and slaves who were brought from Africa fought for their freedom here as well.

The Dominican Republic became its own country later on in its history. However, independence did not mean peace. A corrupt government, following closely on the heels of U.S. occupation, created the opportunity for the Trujillo dictatorship to take hold. Since Trujillo's downfall, the island's resilient people have worked to create a truly peaceful and independent state.


...a beautiful culture and a strong spirit...


In spite of years of social unrest, the islanders of Hispaniola have developed a friendly culture where music and arts have flourished. Crafts and baseball are two examples of a united Dominican culture, one that is a mix of the native Taíno Indian tribe, Spanish colonists, African slaves, as well as American and some French-Haitian influences.


Meanwhile, the island's economy has remained fairly stable. Gold, which was once the island's source of income, gave way to sugarcane. After sugarcane, other forms of agriculture were popular, but tourism is becoming a leading source of income for the Dominican Republic. There has always been something to keep this small country going.

Of course, a nation is nothing without its people, and the people of the Dominican Republic have a complex history that has helped create a beautiful culture and a strong spirit for the islanders.


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