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The Dominican Republic is one of the largest and most prominent countries in the Caribbean. Famous for its tropical coastline and laid-back vibe, the country is also the source of a large diaspora, especially in the United States.
The Dominican Republic was formerly a Spanish colony
The first European settlement in the Americas was located in Santo Domingo, which is the capital of the Dominican Republic today. The country has been occupied in turn by the Spanish, French, Haitians, and even briefly by the United States before achieving independence. However, Spanish influence is the most strongly felt in the Dominican Republic, which continues to be a Spanish-speaking nation even till this day.
The Dominican Republic is not Dominica
The Dominican Republic is often confused with neighboring country of Dominica. While both may have names that sound similar, they are in fact very different countries. Note that while both countries have names that are spelled similarly, stress is on “mi” for the Dominican Republic, and on the “ni” for Dominica.
Santo Domingo was the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas
The first permanent European Settlement in the New World, established when Columbus landed in 1492, remains in the Colonial District of Santo Domingo. There, architecture from the colonial period remains well-preserved, and tourists can take a step back in time and see how the colonialists lived 600 years ago. It’s breathtakingly beautiful.
The Dominican Republic shares an island with Haiti
Both the Dominican Republic and Haiti share one landmass, known as Hispaniola. The island was known by a variety of names, including Haiti and Santo Domingo, before finally becoming known as Hispaniola after the occupying American forces recommended the name to the National Geographic Society in 1918. French and Spanish influences are still strongly present in the island today, as evident from the French-speaking Haiti and the Spanish-speaking Dominican Republic.
Bachata originated from the Dominican Republic
Bachata, the highly popular style of dance/music, was only popularized after the death of dictator Trujillo. Formerly, the style was regarded as being low-class and uncouth, but is now popular in dance halls worldwide.
Dominican Republic brought us the Merengue
Merengue was made the official music/dance of the Dominican Republic by Trujillo’s government. The style purportedly originated from the dances of slaves in the sugar beet plantations, who had to dance in a single line as they were chained to each other. However, other sources claim that Merengue was actually influenced by acoustic groups. The genre was already popular in the early 20th century, and was frequently performed with various instruments.
The Dominican Republic has lovely golf courses
While one might often associate the Dominican Republic with merengue music and balmy tropical weather, it is little known that the country is a popular destination for golf aficionados. As the singular most-visited destination in the Caribbean each year, the Dominican Republic’s golf courses get lots of traffic. Lovely tropical weather all year round also helps to keep these golf courses perennially in business.
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