10 Key Facts About Dominican Republic

Rosario Traducciones continues its linguistic tour #SpanishAroundTheWorld #ElEspañolEnElMundo through Latin America. In this edition, we come ashore the most visited island in the Caribbean.

Rosario Traducciones y Servicios SA has embarked on a virtual linguistic tour to different Latin American countries in celebration of the region's diversity and rich culture. In this third edition, we are traveling to the Dominican Republic, the most touristic Caribbean destination, birthplace of bachata and merengue.

1) One country, three languages

The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean country that occupies two-thirds of the island known as La Española (Haiti occupies the other third of the island). Even though Spanish is the official language and the most widely spoken as a country colonized by the Spaniards in the 19th century, upon the arrival of slaves from the United States, English was introduced, its use increasing with each generation. Likewise, close to the border with Haiti, French is spoken, and French idioms and foreign words can be heard across the island. 

2) First European settlement

La Española was home to the first European settlement in the New World. It was here that Christopher Columbus landed in 1492 on his first voyage across the Atlantic. At that time, the island was inhabited by a tribe called Taino, who called the island Ayti or Hayti (mountainous land or high land). It was here that the Spaniards built a colony—its first in the Americas—and a logistics base for conquering most of the western hemisphere.

3) Santo Domingo, a model capital

Its capital city Santo Domingo was founded in the 15th century and served as a model for the rest of the cities built on the new continent. In fact, the city’s cathedral is the oldest in the Americas. Its first stone was set in 1514 by Diego Colón, Christopher Columbus’s son.

4) The most touristic destination in the Caribbean

Tourism is the island’s main source of revenue. For several decades now, the tourism industry has been growing. The government has taken full advantage of this boom, which has led to the construction of hotel complexes, shopping centers, and other recreational centers. Its beautiful beaches, kind people, tropical climate make it one of the most visited Caribbean destinations by tourists from Europe, the United States, and Canada.

5) Land of bachata and merengue

The Dominican Republic is credited with creating and developing the style known as merengue, a fast-paced rhythmic dance music. Meanwhile, bachata, a type of music and dance that originated in the countryside and rural informal settlements in the Dominican Republic, has become very popular in recent years.

6) Birthplace of baseball greats

 Baseball is the official sport of the Dominican Republic. First introduced at the end of the 19th century, it quickly became the most popular sport on the island. Some of the best baseball players in history were born here, and many major league baseball teams have many Dominican players.

7) The oldest university in the Americas

Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo was the first university to open its doors in the Americas. Bula papal Apostolatus Culmine authorized the creation of Universidad de Santo Tomás de Aquino on October 28, 1538. There is some question as to whether it was really the first, since some say it was actually the National University of San Marcos in Peru. This basically boils down to a legal questions because at that time, Santo Domingo belonged to the Spanish crown and had to adhere to Spanish legal regulations, not those of the Pope, who authorized the creation of the institute. 

8) Large cocoa exporter

Cocoa exports are another one of the country's main sources of income. Two percent of cocoa consumed worldwide is produced in the Dominican Republic, making it the third largest exporting country and the eighth largest producer worldwide.  Its high quality and low price makes it one of the preferred sources in the United States, whose consumers value its high butter content.

9) A truly Dominican stone

Larimar is a semi-precious stone of volcanic origin, extracted from the deep layers of the mountains in the southwest of the island. Its unique blue tones make it an object highly coveted by tourists. First discovered by a priest, the stone was rediscovered in 1974 by Miguel Méndez, a local jeweler. He named it by joining two words: Lari (from Larisa, his daughter's name) and mar (the word for sea in Spanish) invoking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.

10) The highest mountain in the Caribbean

Pico Duarte, a mountain in the Cordillera Central range, is considered the highest of the Greater Antilles. Mountaineers and school groups alike climb it. Pico Duarte and Pico La Pelona are twin peaks. According to current topographic data, the two mountains have the same altitude of 3,087 meters above sea level.