The Dominican Republic was originally inhabited by the Arawac Indians starting from 800 A.D. Known as the Tainos, which translates to ‘noble’ in the Arawac language, the Tainos were the only inhabitants of the island when Christopher Columbus landed there in 1492. Unfortunately, this discovery and subsequent conquest, led to a rapid extermination of the tribe and their rich culture and history. Fortunately, samples of the Arawac Indian art can be found in several caves throughout the country including Las Marivillas, Pomier and Caritas.
Santa Domingo, the capital city was home to La Hispaniola (the first European colony), the first church, hospital and university. In the late 16th century, along with the depletion of gold resources came a mass departure of the population allowing for the French to take occupation to the west and establish Saint Dominigue. After 200 years of French occupation and fighting with Haiti, Juan Pablo Duarte along with other patriots declared independence.
Equal in size to Vermont and New Hampshire combined, the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, its neighbor to the west. The island’s terrain is varied as evidenced by the Sierra de Bahoruco mountain range that separates the two countries. Although rich in nickel, gold and silver deposits, the Dominican Republic receives its greatest export dollars from coffee, sugar and tobacco, respectively. The size and make up of the population have helped the island to grow their economic base via the service industry. Today, the greatest economic boost has been a result of the booming tourism and second home market industry. Facilitated by six airports and over 5,000 miles of paved roads, high end resorts, condominiums and villas offering gated entries have emerged along the coast. Known for its’ all inclusive resorts, the Dominican Republic offers this tourism option in Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and La Romana. Several five star hotel chains have also opened along the coast drawing tourists from all over the world. Villas, most located in gated communities, start at 400K and are located throughout the island and range in size from 2-4 bedrooms.
The Dominican Republic, birth place of Oscar de la Renta has become a celebrity haven for Julio Iglesias and Mikhail Baryshnikov, as well and all three own property in Punta Cana.