About Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti to the west. Though known for its pristine beaches, all-inclusive resorts and golfing, it has a varied terrain comprising rainforest, savannah and highlands, including Pico Duarte, the Caribbean’s tallest mountain. It has Spanish colonial history going back 500 years, and passionate merengue is its official music and dance.
This country opens its arms wide to all visitors wishing to discover its rich cultural history with its colonial districts and its heritage of nature scattered among the mountains, the beaches and the valleys. It is a place also preferred by whales and dolphins during mating season. It's a splendid show to experience.
The sporty tourist will be delighted by all the possibilities offered such as diving, pedestrian excursions, golf and even palpitating expeditions like rock climbing or white water rafting down the rapids near Jarabacoa.
The Dominican Republic is; a romantic island, an ideal place to serenade your beloved one; then enticing to relaxation with its siesta after lunch hours practised by its people laying in their hammock; other times energising where one takes taste to dance at nay moment or place always with a smile on their lips.
Santo Domingo Currency : Dominicain peso Driver's License : International license required. Must be 21 years old and have credit card Electricity : 110 volts, 60Hz Entry Requirements : A valid passport is required and a tourist card ($10 US dollars) available through your airline or at the custom lines. It is the traveller's responsibility to check with the country’s Embassy for up-to-date information. GMT Time : -4hr. Daylight savings time is not applied Government : Representative democracy Land size : 48 730 km2 Language : Spanish, basic English and French in resort areas National Airlines : Air Santo Domingo Population : approx. 9,650,054 Religion : 95% of the population are catholic Required Vaccines : none Tourist Season : Year round but November through April best
Being an insular country of agricultural and of breeding, the Dominican Republic offers a variety of dishes where the Taïnas influences are mixed with the European and African ones, creating an explosion of taste rich in colors, condiments and savours:
El Chenchén, the Basilica of Nuestra Señora of Encarnación is a typical southern dish made from corn cut into small pieces and boiled during several hours with various spices, the whole accompanied by goat with sauce; el Chacá, also containing corn, is a dessert prepared with milk, sugar, cinnamon as well as coconut milk; fish and moro of guandules with coconut of Samaná; rice and the kidney beans, a staple of the Dominican table, prepared in various manners; plantains used to prepare mangú, mofongo and pasteles in hoja; manioc, a based used to make fritters made with meat, cheese and chicken called catibia or other fried delicacies such as pastelones; chicharrones from pork: sausages, chipolatas, black and white blood sausage are popular dishes as well as the yaniqueque ,a flour tart fried in oil, cod torrejitas, pork and chicken fried or in sauces, fried sweet potato, tripe, cow leg in sauce, Creole stews and more.
Typical Creole cuisine include: rice mixed with beans called moro; the same quite juicy mixture but is el chambre; ripe banana with sugar and cinnamon called platanos maduros in cazuela; with red kidney beans one prepares a typical dessert soup for Lent called habichuelas idiot dulce.
Culture Art runs in the blood of the Dominicans as an essential part of everyday life: a vase of bougainvilleas which decorates the table, houses painted with intense tropical colors, traditional songs and folklore.
Painting and sculpture started to flourish with the emigration of artists and intellectual Spaniards who, fleeing the Spanish civil war, establishing themselves in this country. Here you will find a craft heritage which dates back to the time of the taïnos, craftsmen of nature, manufacturing "in the taina way" their plates, higueros, hammocks, bags and baskets. The Limé Dolls are also part of the current craft industry; they are made out of terra cotta and are known for their faces without traits. Artists incorporate amber, the national precious stone, in beautiful jewellery, earrings, necklaces and other objects.
The Dominican music as we know it today is a result of many influences which are interlaced since the ancient Areitos with whom the Taïnos transmitted their culture from generation to generation. Since the time of the conquest and through various historical circumstances, the traditional Dominican music intermingled with the French, Italian, African and other sounds. One finds variations of the zapateado, toques de palo, Creole, merengue, bolero and bachata for example. Between peasants, the traditional merengue is played by a small group of musicians called perico ripiao.
The base of the Dominican religion is Catholicism. However, as in all the aspects of its culture, one cannot escape from the syncretism which characterizes it, thus, "popular religion" is formed by catholic components which are linked with the elements of the Indian and African religious heritage. Moreover, there are Adventist, Pentecostal, Evangelical temples and other Christian churches.
Geography Located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, under the Tropic of Cancer, it shares the Island of Hispaniola with its neighbour Haiti. The Dominican Republic counts for two thirds of its surface and its terrain includes jagged mountains, such as the central Cordillera, intermingled with fertile valleys.
History The first inhabitants of the Dominican Republic date back to 2600BC. They were hunter-gatherer nomads which used stone tools. Then arrived the Salanoids around the year 250BC, one can find them a bit everywhere in the Caribbean. A final migration from Venezuela swept the Antilles approximately 2000 years ago and settled on the island around the year 800 A.C. Then they were known as the Taïnos which in arawaca language means "good" or "noble". They lived a sedentary life rich with religious and agricultural traditions.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus reached the coasts of the island and discovered these inhabitants of an unknown Indian race. Nevertheless, the discovery and especially its methods of conquest, exterminated this race within 50 years, which limited the impact of the indigenous culture on the Dominican one.
The manioc, corn, peanut and tobacco are important products of the current Dominican agriculture which survived the conquest. One found vestiges of Taino art in various localities on the island and the pottery found on the island are of higher quality than those of the others islands.
Nature The Dominican Republic is proud of its marvellous countryside, its mangroves, the tropical forests covering its mountains, its multiple species of flowering trees. This country also counts more than 218 species of birds.
Still more spectacular is the gathering of the whales of bump in Bahía de Samaná during the season of reproduction. The manatees, the whales control and more than eight species of turtle find themselves in water surrounding the Island of Hispaniola.
Sports This destination is a paradise for sporty tourist. Several golf courses are found, some of which were conceived by international renowned architects. Water sports abound, especially diving near the areas of Barahona and Cabo Rojo. Surfing is practised along the eastern coast. Pedestrian excursions are very popular as well as bicycle rentals.
The national sport is baseball.
Banks & Money
It is advised to change your foreign currencies into American dollars, rather than the Dominican peso, at the larger banks or the accredited exchange bureaus of the country. Usually the hotels will also make the exchange but at a lesser rate of exchange.
Major credit cards and the travellers' cheques are widely accepted in most hotels, restaurants and businesses.
Climate Humid tropical but still pleasant thanks to the winds coming from the North-West and mountainous rises present on the island. The water temperature is usually between 27°C and 30°C. The rainy seasons are from May to August and again later in October.
The Dominican Republic has one of the most organized communication systems in the world. It is thus possible to return quickly in communication with all the countries.
The country code for the Dominicain is 809.
Health There are no required vaccines to enter the country however precautions do need to be enforced. The most common illness is the traveler's diarrhea (turista), usually showing up on the third day. Drink bottled water and wash your hands often. Make sure your food is thoroughly cooked and avoid open-air stands.The tap water is not treated. Avoid dairy products as they are not pasteurized. Fruits and vegetables should be peeled before consumption. The following vaccines are recommended for any tropical destination: hepatitis A and B, rabies, typhoid, tetanus and yellow fever
Official Holidays January 1 - New Year's Day January 21 - Our Lady of Las Altagracia End of January - Anniversary of Juan Pablo Duarte February 27 - Day of Independence Early May - Labour Day Mid-August - Restoration Day September 24 - Our Lady of Las Mercedes Early November - Constitution Day December 25 - Christmas
Intense colors, music, religion, expression of joy and Dominican heat: Carnival! The Dominican carnival remains the most popular and authentic expression of the culture, it is an explosion of sound and color. Generally celebrated on February 27, Independence Day, where original creations of masks, disguises, floats and typical masquerades of the various areas and groups are presented.
Safety The rate of criminality is rather high. Tourists are more likely to be a target in cities or seaside resorts. Use good judgement, take advantage of the safety deposit boxes provided by the hotels and ensure that your lock hotel door or your rented car. Walk at night is not advised and women should be accompanied at all time.
Shopping The tourist zones are equipped with excellent sopping centers. Souvenirs include the traditional mamajuana liquor, wicker, leather, mahogany sculptures, masks, ceramics, cigars, rum, coffee, liquid vanilla and jam.
The fashion amateurs will be able to acquire clothing from the local desigers like Jenny Polanco, Hiuberd Franco, Yanina Azar, Marcio Peña y Leonel Lirio.
Amber and larimar are handcrafted to create gorgeous jewellery, earrings, necklaces, and others objects. Amber, a resin of yellowish chestnut color made of trees can contain fossils of insects and small petrified plants. Larimar, only found in this country, is also considered a precious stone. Its blue sky color makes it desirable for beautiful jewellery pieces.
Taxes & Tips a 16% tax (VAT) is charged on all goods or purchases, and often a 10% tax for service at the discretion of the business. The departure tax of around US$20, per person, is payable at the airport should it not already be included on your plane ticket, please verify.
Tipping is customary for bellmen, doormen, porters, tour guides, taxis and washroom assistant. Tipping your maid daily or all in advance assures special attention. Also the 10% rule applies to restaurants for extra special service.
Transportation The guaguas (popular buses) and the public means of transport can be used for a reasonable price. There are also private tourist taxis.
To explore the country some bus companies offer itineraries between Santo Domingo and the majority of the larger cities of the country. Another alternative is car rental.