Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic, is a country located on the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, bordering Haiti. Hispaniola is the second- largest of the Greater Antilles islands, and lies west of Puerto Rico and east of Cuba and Jamaica.

The island of Hispaniola, of which the Dominican Republic forms the eastern two-thirds and Haiti the remainder, was originally occupied by Taínos, an Arawak-speaking people who called the island Quisqueya (or Kiskeya).

The Taínos welcomed Christopher Columbus when he first arrived on December 5, 1492 and on his second voyage in 1493 when he founded the first Spanish colony in the New World. One of the things that piqued the Taino curiosity was the amount of clothing worn by the Europeans. Therefore they came to call them guamikena ("the covered ones").

An estimated 400,000 Tainos living on the island were soon enslaved to work in gold mines. As a consequence of oppression, forced labor, hunger, disease, and mass killings, it is estimated that by 1508 that number had been reduced to around 60,000. By 1535 only a few dozen were still alive.

In 1501 the Spanish monarchs, Ferdinand and Isebella, first granted permission to the colonists of the Caribbean to import African slaves, which began arriving to the island in 1503. These African importees arrived with a rich and ancient culture that has had considerable influence on the racial, political and cultural character of the modern Dominican Republic

Spain, unhappy that Santo Domingo was facilitating trade between its other colonies and other European powers, attacked vast parts of the colony's northern and western regions in the early 17th century.[2] This helped pave the way for French settlers to occupy the depopulated western end of the island, which Spain ceded to France in 1697, and which, in 1804, became the Republic of Haiti. The French held on in the eastern part of the island, until defeated by the Spanish inhabitants at the Battle of Palo Hincado on November 7, 1808.

In 1821 the Spanish settlers declared an independent state, but Haitian forces occupied the whole island just nine weeks later and held it for 22 years.

The twenty-two-year Haitian occupation that followed is recalled by Dominicans as a period of brutal military rule, though the reality is more complex, on February 27, 1844, independence was declared from the Haitians.


Information provided courtesy of: Caribbean Association Midwest America