Did you want to learn more about the Dominican Republic? We have some facts you need to know about the country, with a special focus on our specialty, which is Dominican food. These are just some of the many interesting things to know about the Dominican Republic.
Naturally, there's way more we could say about our beautiful, varied country, but we've tried to narrow it down to the bare essentials. We present 25 interesting facts about the Dominican Republic, ranging from the basic data to some of the country's main claims to fame, plus a few factoids that may surprise you.
Please read on for many more fun and fascinating facts about República Dominicana – our official name.
Basic Dominican facts
Let's start with the basics, perfect if this is your first introduction to our country or you are a kid with a homework assignment about our land.
Here are 10 basic facts about the Dominican Republic:
- The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba.
- Hispaniola, with the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean sea to the south, is shared with another country, Haiti.
- The island of Hispaniola was the first place in the New World to be settled by Europeans, and the first seat of Spanish rule after Christopher Columbus arrived on its shores during his first exploratory voyage in 1492. However, it wasn’t the site of his first landfall; that was in what is now known as the Bahamas.
- The previous inhabitants of the island of Hispaniola were the Taino people.
- The first cathedral, first hospital, and first university in the Americas were founded in what is now the capital city, Santo Domingo.
- The country’s currency is the Dominican peso – DOP or RD$.
- Dominican Republic Independence Day is celebrated on February 27.
- The national flag of the Dominican Republic depicts a white cross on a blue and red background.
- The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish.
- The national tree of the Dominican Republic is West Indian mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni), and the national flower is the Bayahibe Rose (Leuenbergeria quisqueyana). The national bird is the palmchat (Dulus dominicus). We do not – yet – have a national fruit.
What we're famous for
Every country has things that they are better known for. Which are ours? Here are five of the Dominican Republic’s main claims to fame:
- The Dominican Republic is famous for being a top Caribbean tourism destination. Tourists are attracted to its idyllic deep blue beaches and tropical landscapes and the warm welcome they receive from the Dominican people. Popular tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic include Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, and Samaná.
- The Dominican Republic is very famous for its exceptionally talented baseball players, such as Sammy Sosa, Albert Pujols, and Hall of Famers Juan Marichal, Vladimir Guerrero, Pedro Martinez, and David Ortiz, and for its internationally-popular merengue music and dance. Naturally, the national sport is baseball.
- The Dominican Republic is a popular whale-watching destination during the months of February and March when humpback whales from the North Atlantic Ocean migrate to the humpback whale sanctuary in Samana Bay for their mating season.
- The Dominican Republic is well known as a producer of bananas, mangos, sugar, coffee, cocoa, and tobacco. Dominican rum and cigars are highly rated by connoisseurs all over the world.
- Two semi-precious stones - amber and larimar - are associated with the country. The Dominican Republic is the only place where the light-blue larimar stone is found. At the Amber Museum, you can even see a prehistoric mosquito embedded in a Dominican amber stone. Amber is a fossilized tree resin.
Fun Dominican facts
Each country has curious and fun things that surprise visitors. Here we give you five fascinating facts about the Dominican Republic:
- The Dominican Republic is home to both the highest peak in the Caribbean - Pico Duarte in the Central Mountain Range (3,098 meters above sea level), and the lowest point in the Caribbean - Lake Enriquillo between the provinces of Bahoruco and Independencia (46 meters below sea level). Lake Enriquillo is also the largest lake in the Caribbean.
- Wildlife fauna in the Dominican Republic includes the unusual solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus), a very rare venomous mammal, and the rhinoceros iguana (Cyclura cornuta), a large lizard. Both species are endemic, so you won't find them anywhere else.
- Movies filmed in the Dominican Republic include The Godfather II, Jurassic Park, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
- The colonial city in the capital Santo Domingo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The Columbus Lighthouse, or Faro a Colon, in Santo Domingo, was designed in the 1930s and finally completed in 1992, in time for the 500th anniversary of the European arrival in the Americas.
Dominican food facts
We can't leave them out; after all, food and culinary culture are what we're all about. So finally, here are five fun facts about Dominican cuisine:
- As in many other Latin American and Caribbean countries, beans are a Dominican diet staple. The daily lunchtime dish is known as La Bandera Dominicana - The Dominican Flag, consisting of white rice, red beans, and chicken or beef.
- There are several claims to the national dish. Most people would say it is La Bandera, and other contenders include Sancocho, a meaty stew with root vegetables, and Mangú, mashed green plantains.
- Mamajuana – some spell it Mama Juana –is a famous Dominican alcoholic drink, reputed to have many special qualities, made with herbs and tree bark steeped in rum, honey, and red wine.
- One of our most distinctive dishes is Habichuelas con dulce, a sweet dish made with beans and spices.
- Several of our dishes have unusual or poetic names, like the iced milk and citrus juice drink called Morir soñando, which means “to die dreaming”.
Here's just one: The daily lunch dish of rice, beans, and meat is named after the national flag – La Bandera Dominicana.
There's not a single answer to that question; we are known for many things, like our famed baseball players, our great food, our gorgeous landscapes, for being the first European settlement in America, and more.
There are many things that are interesting about our country, but one fact that can surprise you is that we have the highest point in the Caribbean and the lowest one too.
The capital of República Dominicana (Dominican Republic) is Santo Domingo, for short. The city's official name is Santo Domingo de Guzmán.
República Dominicana (Dominican Republic) is located in the Eastern part of the island of Hispaniola, with the Caribbean Sea to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the North. The Island of Hispaniola sits between Cuba to the West and Puerto Rico to the East.
The Dominican Republic occupies two-thirds of Hispaniola, the second-largest Caribbean island. The Republic of Haiti occupies the western third of the island. Curiously, Hispaniola is the only island containing two distinct and independent nations.
These are just a few things that make the Dominican Republic an amazing country to visit and get to know.
Do you have any other questions we might be able to answer? Feel free to ask in the comments.