The Dominican Republic is a country located on the island of Hispaniola, it shares its border with Haiti and is the 2nd largest island in the Caribbean, after Cuba.
The official language is Spanish and there are about 11 million inhabitants… 1/3 of whom live in the capital Santo Domingo.
Its sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, welcoming and smiling people have made the Dominican Republic, the number 1 destination in the Caribbean!
A history of colonization
The 1st inhabitants of Hipaniola were the Tainos, it was the oldest civilization of the West Indies, originating from the Arawak family in the Amazon.
This advanced civilization lived on agriculture and hunting and did not resist the arrival of Europeans.
Indians are forced to work in gold mines, hunger, exhaustion and suicides have reduced the population from 400,000 to 60,000 in nearly 50 years.
The acceleration of Spanish colonization will annihilate the last Tainos, who died of diseases such as smallpox…
The Spanish must therefore find a solution to find new manpower – it is the arrival of Africans. The slaves will be separated, to force them to speak Spanish, they will also receive Spanish names and will be converted to Christianity, which leads to ethnocide: Africans will lose their culture and origins.
During his first voyage in 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered this island and renamed it “Hispanicola” taken from his name “Little Spain”.
The colony of Santo Domingo was the seat of the first European settlement in the Americas and the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World.
France in turn established a colony on the other side of the island. The two colonies that became, in the nineteenth century, the Dominican Republic on the Spanish side and the Republic of Haiti on the French side, fought for many decades.
The Dominican Republic officially gained independence on February 27, 1844.
The Dominican Republic today
The first sugar cane plantations were introduced to the Dominican Republic by Spanish settlers in the early sixteenth century. Today, agriculture is one of the most important sectors.
Even today, the sector depends mainly on Haitian immigrants, who represent 90% of the workforce responsible for cutting cane. An estimated 500,000 to 1 million Haitian immigrants are part of the national economy, with sugar cane being the main agricultural product.
Sugar, coffee and cocoa are also a major source of agricultural income.
The products of the mining industry are ferro-nickel, gold and silver. These primary products are the basis of the Dominican Republic’s economy and its main export raw materials.
The industry is mainly focused on the production of food and beverages, chemicals and the refinement of imported oil.
In the services sector, tourism has had a major impact on the Dominican Republic’s economy and now contributes 1/6th of total output.
Currency and payments:
The local currency is the Dominican pesos (RDS)
As of July 2022, 1 dollar = 1 euro = 55 Dominican pesos … These rates are subject to slight daily variations.
We advise you to pay as much as possible in the local currency to avoid abusive exchange rates
If you want to change your euros or dollars into pesos we recommend that you go to the exchange offices in the country, but avoid to change your money in your country of origin, at the airport or at the hotel… Exchange rates are very high
We also advise you to use at least your credit card and to plan cash for your expenses in the country
The main credit cards accepted are Visa / Mastercard and American Express
Merchants apply a tax of up to 18% to cover the costs related to the CB payment, you will understand the importance of paying your expenses in cash!
Similarly, ATM withdrawals are limited in terms of amount per withdrawal (this may vary depending on the card) and each withdrawal is commissioned… Imagine the surprise once the total amount desired is withdrawn!
In case of real necessity, we always advise you to withdraw directly from the bank counter, with your passport, to avoid withdrawals from ATMs in large numbers. In this case you would only pay the commission once, regardless of the amount withdrawn.
Spanish is the official language of the country… But some expressions are very typical of the area…
Hello / Good evening: Buenos días / Buenas tardes
Please : por favor
Thank you : gracias
Good bye : adios
I don’t understand : no entiendo
My name is : me llamo
Money : dinero
How much does it cost: Cuánto cuesta ?
1, 2, 3….10 : Un, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diéz
It is too expensive : Es muy caro !
The addiion please : la cuenta por favor
Left : izquierda
Right : derecha
North/South/East/West : Norte / Sur / Este / Oeste
Days of the week : Lunes, Martes, Miércoles, Jueves, Viernes, Sábado, Domingo
- Colmado: It is a popular store, type local trade, ideal to go buy at a lower cost souvenirs such as rum, coffee … But be careful in the evening this small business often turns into a music bar.
- Gua-gua: This is the public bus… No bus stop, you are waiting on the side of the road… it will eventually pass!
- Motochoncho : Preferred means of transport for Dominicans, it is a motorcycle taxi … 1, 2, 3 passengers… You will be surprised how many people can be ridden on a motorcycle!
- Pica Pollo : fried chicken sold in the “Comedor” (fast food), very economical (count between 150 and 200 Dominican pesos)
- Un chin : a litlle
- Banco : Bank – Be careful not to confuse with Banca which are the lotteries