Dominican Republic has an area of 78,730 square kilometers and a population of 10,767,000 (as of 2017).
The official language is Spanish. The republic is a presidential democracy. Approx. 95% of the population belong to the Roman Catholic religion.
The Dominican Republic is a developing country, and the Welthungerhilfe organization estimates that 24% of the population are hungry or malnourished. The average income is officially EUR 400, but the unemployment figures are considerably higher than in other Latin American countries. In addition, other estimates assume that the monthly family income is just around EUR 240. It is astonishing that the majority of Dominicans live in the capital Santo Domingo (excluding the surrounding area, almost 3 million). The cost of living here is enormous compared to rural areas and quite similar to those in Europe. These assessments are based on our own experiences and of course on those of our large family.
Finally, it should be mentioned that a large part of the gross domestic product is generated by tourism.
The currency is Peso. Exchange rates usually fluctuate between 50 and 60 Pesos per Euro. The division into Centavos has been abolished.
There is probably not much left to say about the history or the discovery of this island. On December 5, 1492, Christopher Columbus was the first European to set foot on this Caribbean gem. In the course of the conquest, it got the name Hispaniola as it is still called today, which refers to the whole island and includes Haiti.
You can find traces of the conquerors everywhere on the island, especially Christopher Columbus. The capital Santo Domingo is the oldest European colonial city. The roots of today’s population are mainly European and African, the genetic make-up of the indigenous people of Taino is hardly to be found anymore.
In the Dominican Republic, an astonishing 30% of the total land area is under conservation. Approx. 6000 different plant species, of which almost 2000 only grow here, for example the Bayahibe rose – a cactus species with a beautiful pink bloom, the national flower of the country. In the Parque Nacional de Este alone you can find more than 300 varieties of orchids. And here in the cooler mountains, too, you can discover a lot on walks through beautiful pine forests.
But the Dominican Republic not only surprises with its great flora, there are also up to 7000 different animal species. And again a lot that can only be found here on the island. Unfortunately, many are threatened, such as the American crocodile, which lives in salt water. There are also different types of iguanas, such as the endangered rhino iguana. Four different species of sea turtles live off the island of Samana and lay their eggs on the island’s pristine beaches. There are tons of coral reefs of many different sizes and shapes, most are fortunately protected in order to save them from the growing tourism.
The very endangered manatee (see cow) can be found at the estuaries and lagoons of the north coast. And of course the up to 3,000 humpback whales that mate in the warm water off the coast of Samana and give birth to their young ones are particularly noteworthy.
Ornithologists can discover and observe a lot as well, apart from countless species of hummingbird, for example the Hispaniola parrot. All of this is of course just a very small overview of the beautiful, very varied nature that exists on this great island. Perhaps worth mentioning, there are no poisonous animals that are deadly, only they cause unpleasant pain, such as the bite of the centipede but also that of a domestic tarantula.
But it is certainly interesting that one of the most dangerous trees in the world grows here in the Dominican Republic, the Hippomane or Mancinella. You can even find it in the Guinness Book of Records.
Just contact with the branches or the wood can cause severe burns or even blindness. The fruits of this tree are actually deadly. Don’t worry, it only grows in very remote areas. Similar to mangroves on the coast. Here they hold the sand together with their deep roots. As a rule, these trees are marked with a skull, they are also called “apples of death” or “beach apples” (Manzinella de la playa).
We would be happy to advise you on possible excursions or organize a great discovery tour with a guide.