Note: Dominican Republic
Area: 48,442 sq. km. (18,704 sq. mi.), about the size of Vermont and New
Cities: Capital--Santo Domingo (pop. 2.7 million).
Other city--Santiago de los Caballeros (908,230).
Noun and adjective--Dominican(s).
Population (2001): 9.2 million.
growth rate (2005): 7.5%.
Ethnic groups: European 16%, African origin 11%,
Religion: Roman Catholic 95%.
Years compulsory--6 Attendance--70%. Literacy--84.7%.
Infant mortality rate: 28.3/1,000. Life expectancy--70.2 years for
men, 73.3 years for women.
Work force: 60.2% services (tourism, transportation,
communications, finances, others), 15.5% industry (manufacturing), 11.5% construction,
11.3% agriculture, 1.5% mining.
Type: Representative democracy.
Independence: February 27, 1844. Restoration
of independence, August 16, 1863.
Constitution: November 28, 1966; amended
July 25, 2002.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state and head
of government), vice president, cabinet. Legislative--bicameral Congress
(Senate and House of Representatives). Judicial--Supreme Court of Justice.
31 provinces and the National District of Santo Domingo.
Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC), Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD),
Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), and several others.
Suffrage: Universal and
compulsory, over 18 or married.
GDP: $17.63 billion.
Growth rate: 7.5%.
Per capita GDP: $6,600.
minerals (1% of GDP): Nickel, gold, silver.
Agriculture (12% of GDP): Products--sugarcane,
coffee, cocoa, bananas, tobacco, rice, plantains, beef.
Industry (24% of GDP):
Types--sugar refining, pharmaceuticals, cement, light manufacturing, construction.
Services, including tourism and transportation: 61% of GDP.
($5.8 billion (FOB), including processing zones: textiles, sugar, coffee, ferronickel,
cacao, tobacco, meats and medical supplies. Markets--U.S. (80%), Canada,
western Europe, South Korea. Imports--$8.9 billion: food stuffs, petroleum,
industrial raw materials, capital goods. Suppliers--U.S. (48%), Japan,
Germany, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia.
half of Dominicans live in rural areas; many are small landholders. Haitians form
the largest foreign minority group. All religions are tolerated; the state religion
is Roman Catholicism.
The island of Hispaniola, of which the Dominican Republic forms the eastern
two-thirds and Haiti the remainder, was originally occupied by Tainos, an Arawak-speaking
people. The Tainos welcomed Columbus in his first voyage in 1492, but subsequent
colonizers were brutal, reducing the Taino population from about 1 million to
about 500 in 50 years. To ensure adequate labor for plantations, the Spanish brought
African slaves to the island beginning in 1503.
the next century, French settlers occupied the western end of the island, which
Spain ceded to France in 1697, and which, in 1804, became the Republic of Haiti.
The Haitians conquered the whole island in 1822 and held it until 1844, when forces
led by Juan Pablo Duarte, the hero of Dominican independence, drove them out and
established the Dominican Republic as an independent state. In 1861, the Dominicans
voluntarily returned to the Spanish Empire; in 1865, independence was restored.
Economic difficulties, the threat of European intervention, and ongoing internal
disorders led to a U.S. occupation in 1916 and the establishment of a military
government in the Dominican Republic. The occupation ended in 1924, with a democratically
elected Dominican Government.
Rafael L. Trujillo, a prominent army commander, established absolute political
control. Trujillo promoted economic development--from which he and his supporters
benefited--and severe repression of domestic human rights. Mismanagement and corruption
resulted in major economic problems. In August 1960, the Organization of American
States (OAS) imposed diplomatic sanctions against the Dominican Republic as a
result of Trujillo's complicity in an attempt to assassinate President Romulo
Betancourt of Venezuela. These sanctions remained in force after Trujillo's death
by assassination in May 1961. In November 1961, the Trujillo family was forced
In January 1962, a council
of state that included moderate opposition elements with legislative and executive
powers was formed. OAS sanctions were lifted January 4, and, after the resignation
of President Joaquin Balaguer on January 16, the council under President Rafael
E. Bonnelly headed the Dominican government.
1963, Juan Bosch was inaugurated President. Bosch was overthrown in a military
coup in September 1963. Another military coup, on April 24, 1965, led to violence
between military elements favoring the return to government by Bosch and those
who proposed a military junta committed to early general elections. On April 28,
U.S. military forces landed to protect U.S. citizens and to evacuate U.S. and
other foreign nationals.
U.S. forces subsequently established order. In June 1966, President Balaguer,
leader of the Reformist Party (now called the Social Christian Reformist Party--PRSC),
was elected and then re-elected to office in May 1970 and May 1974, both times
after the major opposition parties withdrew late in the campaign. In the May 1978
election, Balaguer was defeated in his bid for a fourth successive term by Antonio
Guzman of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD). Guzman's inauguration on August
16 marked the country's first peaceful transfer of power from one freely elected
president to another.
The PRD's presidential
candidate, Salvador Jorge Blanco, won the 1982 elections, and the PRD gained a
majority in both houses of Congress. In an attempt to cure the ailing economy,
the Jorge administration began to implement economic adjustment and recovery policies,
including an austerity program in cooperation with the International Monetary
Fund (IMF). In April 1984, rising prices of basic foodstuffs and uncertainty about
austerity measures led to riots.
was returned to the presidency with electoral victories in 1986 and 1990. Upon
taking office in 1986, Balaguer tried to reactivate the economy through a public
works construction program. Nonetheless, by 1988 the country had slid into a 2-year
economic depression, characterized by high inflation and currency devaluation.
Economic difficulties, coupled with problems in the delivery of basic services--e.g.,
electricity, water, transportation--generated popular discontent that resulted
in frequent protests, occasionally violent, including a paralyzing nationwide
strike in June 1989.
In 1990, Balaguer
instituted a second set of economic reforms. After concluding an IMF agreement,
balancing the budget, and curtailing inflation, the Dominican Republic experienced
a period of economic growth marked by moderate inflation, a balance in external
accounts, and a steadily increasing GDP that lasted through 2000.
voting process in 1986 and 1990 was generally seen as fair, but allegations of
electoral board fraud tainted both victories. The elections of 1994 were again
marred by charges of fraud. Following a compromise calling for constitutional
and electoral reform, President Balaguer assumed office for an abbreviated term
and Congress amended the Constitution to bar presidential succession.
June 1996, Leonel Fernández Reyna of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) was
elected to a 4-year term as president. Fernández's political agenda was one of
economic and judicial reform. He helped enhance Dominican participation in hemispheric
affairs, such as the OAS and the follow up to the Miami Summit. On May 16, 2000,
Hipólito Mejía, the PRD candidate, was elected president in another free and fair
election, soundly defeating PLD candidate Danilo Medina and Former President Balaguer.
Mejía championed the cause of free trade and Central American and Caribbean economic
integration. The Dominican Republic signed a free trade agreement with the United
States and five Central American countries (DR-CAFTA) in August 2004, in the last
weeks of the Mejía administration. During the Mejía administration, the government
sponsored and obtained anti-trafficking and anti-money-laundering legislation,
sent troops to Iraq in support of the fight against terrorism, and ratified the
Article 98 agreement it had signed in 2002. Mejía faced mounting domestic problems
as a deteriorating economy--caused in large part by the government’s measures
to deal with massive bank fraud--and constant power shortages plagued the latter
part of his administration.
Mejía administration, the Constitution was amended to permit an incumbent president
to seek a second successive term, and Mejía ran for re-election. On May 16, 2004,
Leonel Fernández was elected president in a free and fair election, defeating
Mejía 57.11% to 33.65%. Eduardo Estrella of the PRSC received 8.65% of the vote.
Fernández took office on August 16, 2004, promising in his inaugural speech to
promote fiscal austerity, to fight corruption and to support social concerns.
Fernández said the Dominican Republic would support policies favoring international
peace and security through multilateral mechanisms in conformity with the United
Nations and the OAS. The Fernández administration has worked closely with the
United States on law enforcement and immigration and counter-terrorism matters.
On May 16, 2006, President Fernández’s PLD won a majority of seats in the upper
and lower houses of Congress as well as a plurality of mayoral seats, marking
a major shift in power among the main political parties.
AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
The Dominican Republic is a representative democracy
with national powers divided among independent executive, legislative, and judicial
branches. The president appoints the cabinet, executes laws passed by the legislative
branch, and is commander in chief of the armed forces. The president and vice
president run for office on the same ticket and are elected by direct vote for
4-year terms. Legislative power is exercised by a bicameral congress--the Senate
(32 members), and the House of Representatives (150 members).
Dominican Republic has a multi-party political system with national elections
every 2 years (alternating between presidential elections and congressional/municipal
elections). Presidential elections are held in years evenly divisible by four.
Congressional and municipal elections are held in even numbered years not divisible
by four. International observers have generally agreed that presidential and congressional
elections since 1996 have been free and fair. Elections are supervised by a Central
Elections Board of 9 members chosen for a four-year term by the newly elected
Senate. Its decisions on electoral matters are final.
the constitutional reforms negotiated after the 1994 elections, the 16-member
Supreme Court of Justice is appointed by a National Judicial Council, which is
comprised of the President, the leaders of both houses of Congress, the President
of the Supreme Court, and an opposition or non-governing-party member (one other
Supreme Court Justice acts as secretary of the Council, a non-voting position.)
The Supreme Court has sole jurisdiction over managing the court system and over
actions against the president, designated members of his cabinet, and members
The Supreme Court hears
appeals from lower courts and chooses members of lower courts. Each of the 31
provinces is headed by a presidentially appointed governor. Mayors and municipal
councils to administer the National District (Santo Domingo) and the 124 municipal
districts are elected at the same time as congressional representatives.
President--Leonel Fernández Reyna
Ambassador to the United States--Flavio Dario Espinal Jacobo
Nations--Erasmo Lara Peña
Ambassador to the Organization of American States--Roberto
The Dominican Republic maintains
an embassy in the United States at
1715 22d Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-332-6280).
authorizes a combined military force of 44,000 active duty personnel. Actual active
duty strength is approximately 32,000. However, approximately 50% of those are
used for non-military activities such as security providers for government-owned
non-military facilities, highway toll stations, prisons, forestry work, state
enterprises, and private businesses. The Commander in Chief of the military is
the President. The principal missions are to defend the nation and protect the
territorial integrity of the country. The army, larger than the other services
combined with approximately 20,000 active duty personnel, consists of six infantry
brigades, a combat support brigade, and a combat service support brigade. The
air force operates two main bases, one in the southern region near Santo Domingo
and one in the northern region near Puerto Plata. The navy operates two major
naval bases, one in Santo Domingo and one in Las Calderas on the southwestern
coast, and maintains 12 operational vessels. In the Caribbean, only Cuba has a
larger military force.
The armed forces
have organized a Specialized Airport Security Corps (CESA) and a Specialized Port
Security Corps (CESEP) to meet international security needs in these areas. The
Secretary of the Armed Forces has also announced plans to form a specialized border
corps (CESEF). Additionally, the armed forces provide 75% of personnel to the
National Investigations Directorate (DNI) and the Counter-Drug Directorate (DNCD).
The Dominican National Police force contains
32,000 agents. The police are not part of the Dominican armed forces, but share
some overlapping security functions. Sixty-three percent of the force serve in
areas outside traditional police functions, similar to their military counterparts.
Dominican Republic had one of the fast growing economies in the world in the 1990s.
After a decade of little to no growth in the 1980s, the Dominican Republic’s economy
boomed, expanding at an average rate of 7.7% per year from 1996 to 2000. Tourism
(the leading foreign exchange earner), telecommunications, and free-trade-zone
manufacturing are increasingly important industries, although agriculture is still
a major part of the economy. The Dominican Republic owed much of its success to
the adoption of sound macroeconomic policies in the early 1990s and greater opening
to foreign investment. Growth turned negative in 2003 (-0.4%) due to the effects
of government handling of major bank frauds and to lower U.S. demand for Dominican
manufacturers. The Mejía administration negotiated an IMF standby agreement in
August 2003 but was unable to comply with fiscal targets. The Fernández administration
obtained required tax legislation and IMF board approval for the standby in January
2005. The Dominican peso fell to an unprecedented low in exchange markets in 2003-2004
but strengthened dramatically following the election and inauguration of Leonel
Fernández. Since late 2004 it has traded at a rate considered to be overvalued
on a purchasing power parity basis. Inflation was cut sharply in late 2004 and
was estimated at 9% for that calendar year. The new administration successfully
renegotiated official bilateral debt with Paris Club member governments, commercial
bank debt with London Club members, and sovereign debt with a consortium of lenders.
It met fiscal and financial targets of the standby agreement but fell short of
goals for reforms in the electricity sector and financial markets. Central Bank
statistics indicate 7.5% estimated growth for 2005 with 9% inflation.
Dominican Republic’s most important trading partner is the United States (87%
of export revenues); other markets include Canada, Western Europe, and Japan.
The country exports free-trade-zone manufactured products (garments, footwear,
etc.), nickel, sugar, coffee, cacao, and tobacco, and it imports foodstuffs, petroleum,
industrial raw materials, and capital goods. On September 5, 2005, the Dominican
Congress ratified a Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. and five Central American
countries, known as CAFTA-DR. The stock of U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI)
in the country in 2004 was $1.0 billion, up from $816 million in 2003, much of
it directed to the tourism sector, to free trade zones, and to the telecommunications
sector. Remittances were close to $3 billion in 2004.
ongoing concern is the inability of participants in the electricity sector to
establish financial viability for the system. Three national electricity distribution
systems were privatized in 1998 via sale of 50% of shares to foreign operators;
the Mejía administration repurchased all foreign-owned shares in two of these
systems in late 2003. The third, serving the eastern provinces, is owned and operated
by U.S. concerns. About half of electricity billed goes unpaid, and distributors
have made very slow progress in improving collections. Debts in the sector, including
government debt, amount to more than U.S. $500 million, and generating companies
are undercapitalized and at times unable to purchase adequate fuel supplies.
The Dominican Republic has a close relationship with the United
States and with the other states of the inter-American system. It has accredited
diplomatic missions in most Western Hemisphere countries and in principal European
capitals. Newly elected president of Haiti René Préval made a working visit to
Santo Domingo in March 2006, reciprocating Leonel Fernández’s call on the Interim
Government of Haiti in December 2005. The Dominican government has regularly appealed
for international support for its island neighbor.
is a sizeable Haitian migrant community in the Dominican Republic, many of whom
lack residence permits and citizenship documentation. The Dominican Republic belongs
to the UN and many of its specialized and related agencies, including the World
Bank, International Labor Organization, International Atomic Energy Agency, and
International Civil Aviation Organization. It is a member of the OAS and the Inter-American
The U.S. has a strong interest in a democratic, stable,
and economically healthy Dominican Republic. The country’s standing as the largest
Caribbean economy, second-largest country in terms of population and land mass,
with large bilateral trade with the United States, and its proximity to the United
States and other smaller Caribbean nations make the Dominican Republic an important
partner in hemispheric affairs. The Embassy estimates that 60,000 U.S. citizens
live in the Dominican Republic; many are dual nationals. An important element
of the relationship between the two countries is the fact that more than 1 million
individuals of Dominican origin reside in the United States, most of them in the
metropolitan Northeast and some in Florida.
relations with the Dominican Republic are excellent, and the U.S. has been an
outspoken supporter of that country's democratic and economic development. The
Dominican government has been supportive of many U.S. initiatives in the United
Nations and related agencies. The two governments cooperate in the fight against
the traffic in illegal substances. The Dominican Republic has worked closely with
U.S. law enforcement officials on issues such as the extradition of fugitives
and measures to hinder illegal migration.
United States supports the Fernández administration's efforts to improve Dominican
competitiveness, increase foreign private investment, fight corruption, and modernize
the tax system. Bilateral trade is important to both countries, and U.S. firms,
mostly manufacturers of apparel, footwear, and light electronics, account for
much of the foreign private investment in the Dominican Republic.
from the United States, including those from Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,
to the Dominican Republic in 2005 totaled $9.6 billion. The Dominican Republic
exported $6.1 million to the United States in 2005, equaling some 77% of its export
revenues. The U.S. Embassy works closely with U.S. business firms and Dominican
trade groups, both of which can take advantage of the new opportunities in this
growing market. At the same time the Embassy is working with the Dominican government
to resolve business disputes from previous administrations.
Embassy counsels U.S. firms through its written Country Commercial Guide and informally
via meetings with business persons planning to invest or already investing in
the Dominican Republic. It is a challenging business environment for U.S. firms,
although agile exporters and investors can profit doing business in the Dominican
The U.S. Agency for International
mission is focused on four areas: availability of health care, increasing economic
opportunity, improving participation in democratic processes, and environmentally
sound energy production.
Ambassador--Hans H. Hertell
Chief of Mission--Lisa Kubiske
USAID Mission Director--Elena Brineman
Economic and Political Counselor--Michael Meigs
Affairs Adviser--William Millman
Commercial Counselor (DOC/FCS)--Michael McGee
Attaché--Lt. Col. William Tucker (U.S. Marine Corps)
U.S. Embassy is located at Calle
César Nicolas Penson and Calle Leopoldo Navarro, Santo Domingo (tel. 809-221-2171).
Other Contact Information
Department of Commerce
International Trade Administration
14th and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230
1818 N. Street, NW, Suite 310
Washington, DC 20036
Fax: (202) 822-0075
Chamber of Commerce in the Dominican Republic
Torre Empresarial, 6to.
Ave. Sarasota No. 25,
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Tel: (809) 381-0777
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
Department of State's Consular Information Program provides Consular Information
Sheets, Travel Warnings, and Public Announcements. Consular Information Sheets
exist for all countries and include information on entry requirements, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and security, political
disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in the country. Travel Warnings
are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to
a certain country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term conditions
overseas that pose significant risks to the security of American travelers. Free
copies of this information are available by calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs
at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Consular Information
Sheets and Travel Warnings also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet
home page: http://travel.state.gov/. Consular
Affairs Tips for Travelers publication series, which contain information on obtaining
passports and planning a safe trip abroad, are available on the Internet and hard
copies can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office, telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be obtained from the Office
of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. For after-hours emergencies,
Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-4000.
National Passport Information Center (NPIC) is the U.S. Department of State's
single, centralized public contact center for U.S. passport information. Telephone:
1-877-4USA-PPT (1-877-487-2778). Customer service representatives and operators
for TDD/TTY are available Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time,
excluding federal holidays.
can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at 877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747) and
a web site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm
give the most recent health advisories, immunization recommendations or requirements,
and advice on food and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet
entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280)
is available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel.
Information on travel
conditions, visa requirements, currency and customs regulations, legal holidays,
and other items of interest to travelers also may be obtained before your departure
from a country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see
"Principal Government Officials" listing in this publication).
citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas are encouraged
their travel via the State Department's travel registration web site at https://travelregistration.state.gov/
or at the Consular section of the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country by filling
out a short form and sending in a copy of their passports. This may help family
members contact you in case of an emergency.
Department of State Web Site. Available on
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of State web site provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
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along with the directory of key officers
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provides a portal to all export-related assistance and market information offered
by the federal government and provides trade leads, free export counseling, help
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National Trade Data Bank.