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Dominican Republic-Ethnic Heritage RACIAL AND ETHNIC GROUPS





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Dominican Republic Index

The island's indigenous inhabitants were the Taino Indians (Arawaks) group and a small settlement of Caribs around the Bahía de Samaná. These Indians, estimated to number perhaps 1 million at the time of their initial contact with Europeans, had died off by the 1550s. The importation of African slaves began in 1503. By the nineteenth century, the population was roughly 150,000: 40,000 of Spanish descent, an equal number of black slaves, and the remainder of freed blacks or mulattoes. In the mid-1980s, approximately 16 percent of the population was considered white and 11 percent black; the remainder were mulattoes.

Contemporary Dominican society and culture are overwhelmingly Spanish in origin. Taino influence is limited to cultigens and to a few vocabulary words, such as huracán (hurricane) and hamaca (hammock). African influence has been largely ignored, although certain religious brotherhoods with significant black membership incorporated some Afro-American elements. Observers also have noted the presence of African influence in popular dance and music.

There was a preference in Dominican society for light skin and "white" racial features.Blackness in itself, however, did not restrict a person to a lower status position. Upward mobility was possible for the dark-skinned person who managed to acquire education or wealth. Social characteristics, focusing on family background, education, and economic standing, were in fact more prominent means of identifying and classifying individuals. Darker-skinned persons were concentrated in the east and the south. The population of the Cibao, especially in the countryside, consisted mainly of whites or mulattoes.

Dominicans traditionally preferred to think of themselves as descendants of the island's Indians and the Spanish, ignoring their African heritage. Thus, phenotypical African characteristics were disparaged. Emigrants to the United States brought a new level of racial consciousness to the republic, however, when they returned. Those who came back during the 1960s and the 1970s had experienced both racial prejudice and the black pride movement in North America. Returning migrants brought back Afro hairstyles and a variety of other Afro-North Americanisms.

Data as of December 1989

Ethnic Heritage

The island's indigenous inhabitants were the Taino Indians (Arawaks) group and a small settlement of Caribs around the Bahía de Samaná. These Indians, estimated to number perhaps 1 million at the time of their initial contact with Europeans, had died off by the 1550s. The importation of African slaves began in 1503. By the nineteenth century, the population was roughly 150,000: 40,000 of Spanish descent, an equal number of black slaves, and the remainder of freed blacks or mulattoes. In the mid-1980s, approximately 16 percent of the population was considered white and 11 percent black; the remainder were mulattoes.

Contemporary Dominican society and culture are overwhelmingly Spanish in origin. Taino influence is limited to cultigens and to a few vocabulary words, such as huracán (hurricane) and hamaca (hammock). African influence has been largely ignored, although certain religious brotherhoods with significant black membership incorporated some Afro-American elements. Observers also have noted the presence of African influence in popular dance and music.

There was a preference in Dominican society for light skin and "white" racial features.Blackness in itself, however, did not restrict a person to a lower status position. Upward mobility was possible for the dark-skinned person who managed to acquire education or wealth. Social characteristics, focusing on family background, education, and economic standing, were in fact more prominent means of identifying and classifying individuals. Darker-skinned persons were concentrated in the east and the south. The population of the Cibao, especially in the countryside, consisted mainly of whites or mulattoes.

Dominicans traditionally preferred to think of themselves as descendants of the island's Indians and the Spanish, ignoring their African heritage. Thus, phenotypical African characteristics were disparaged. Emigrants to the United States brought a new level of racial consciousness to the republic, however, when they returned. Those who came back during the 1960s and the 1970s had experienced both racial prejudice and the black pride movement in North America. Returning migrants brought back Afro hairstyles and a variety of other Afro-North Americanisms.

Data as of December 1989



BackgroundExplored and claimed by Christopher COLUMBUS on his first voyage in 1492, the island of Hispaniola became a springboard for Spanish conquest of the Caribbean and the American mainland. In 1697, Spain recognized French dominion over the western third of the island, which in 1804 became Haiti. The remainder of the island, by then known as Santo Domingo, sought to gain its own independence in 1821 but was conquered and ruled by the Haitians for 22 years; it finally attained independence as the Dominican Republic in 1844. In 1861, the Dominicans voluntarily returned to the Spanish Empire, but two years later they launched a war that restored independence in 1865. A legacy of unsettled, mostly non-representative rule followed, capped by the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas TRUJILLO from 1930-61. Juan BOSCH was elected president in 1962 but was deposed in a military coup in 1963. In 1965, the United States led an intervention in the midst of a civil war sparked by an uprising to restore BOSCH. In 1966, Joaquin BALAGUER defeated BOSCH in an election to become president. BALAGUER maintained a tight grip on power for most of the next 30 years when international reaction to flawed elections forced him to curtail his term in 1996. Since then, regular competitive elections have been held in which opposition candidates have won the presidency. Former President (1996-2000) Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna won election to a second term in 2004 following a constitutional amendment allowing presidents to serve more than one term.
LocationCaribbean, eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Haiti
Area(sq km)total: 48,670 sq km
land: 48,320 sq km
water: 350 sq km
Geographic coordinates19 00 N, 70 40 W
Land boundaries(km)total: 360 km
border countries: Haiti 360 km

Coastline(km)1,288 km

Climatetropical maritime; little seasonal temperature variation; seasonal variation in rainfall

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: Lago Enriquillo -46 m
highest point: Pico Duarte 3,175 m
Natural resourcesnickel, bauxite, gold, silver
Land use(%)arable land: 22.49%
permanent crops: 10.26%
other: 67.25% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)2,750 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)21 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 3.39 cu km/yr (32%/2%/66%)
per capita: 381 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardslies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding; periodic droughts
Environment - current issueswater shortages; soil eroding into the sea damages coral reefs; deforestation
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - noteshares island of Hispaniola with Haiti
Population9,650,054 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 31.4% (male 1,543,141/female 1,488,016)
15-64 years: 62.7% (male 3,087,351/female 2,960,319)
65 years and over: 5.9% (male 264,476/female 306,751) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 24.9 years
male: 24.8 years
female: 25.1 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)1.489% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)22.39 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)5.28 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)-2.22 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 69% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.6% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 25.96 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 28 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 23.84 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 73.7 years
male: 71.88 years
female: 75.6 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)2.76 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Dominican(s)
adjective: Dominican
Ethnic groups(%)mixed 73%, white 16%, black 11%

Religions(%)Roman Catholic 95%, other 5%
Languages(%)Spanish

Country nameconventional long form: Dominican Republic
conventional short form: The Dominican
local long form: Republica Dominicana
local short form: La Dominicana
Government typedemocratic republic
Capitalname: Santo Domingo
geographic coordinates: 18 28 N, 69 54 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions31 provinces (provincias, singular - provincia) and 1 district* (distrito); Azua, Bahoruco, Barahona, Dajabon, Distrito Nacional*, Duarte, El Seibo, Elias Pina, Espaillat, Hato Mayor, Independencia, La Altagracia, La Romana, La Vega, Maria Trinidad Sanchez, Monsenor Nouel, Monte Cristi, Monte Plata, Pedernales, Peravia, Puerto Plata, Salcedo, Samana, San Cristobal, San Jose de Ocoa, San Juan, San Pedro de Macoris, Sanchez Ramirez, Santiago, Santiago Rodriguez, Santo Domingo, Valverde
Constitution28 November 1966; amended 25 July 2002

Legal systembased on French civil codes; Criminal Procedures Code modified in 2004 to include important elements of an accusatory system; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age, universal and compulsory; married persons regardless of age; note - members of the armed forces and national police cannot vote
Executive branchchief of state: President Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna (since 16 August 2004); Vice President Rafael ALBURQUERQUE de Castro (since 16 August 2004); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna (since 16 August 2004); Vice President Rafael ALBURQUERQUE de Castro (since 16 August 2004)
cabinet: Cabinet nominated by the president
elections: president and vice president elected on the same ticket by popular vote for four-year terms (eligible for a second consecutive term); election last held 16 May 2008 (next to be held in May 2012)
election results: Leonel FERNANDEZ reelected president; percent of vote - Leonel FERNANDEZ 53.6%, Miguel VARGAS 41%, Amable ARISTY less than 5%

Legislative branchbicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate or Senado (32 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives or Camara de Diputados (178 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 16 May 2006 (next to be held in May 2010); House of Representatives - last held 16 May 2006 (next to be held in May 2010)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PLD 22, PRD 6, PRSC 4; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PLD 96, PRD 60, PRSC 22

Judicial branchSupreme Court or Corte Suprema (judges are appointed by the National Judicial Council comprised of the president, the leaders of both chambers of congress, the president of the Supreme Court, and an additional non-governing party congressional representative)

Political pressure groups and leadersCitizen Participation Group (Participacion Ciudadania); Collective of Popular Organizations or COP; Foundation for Institution-Building and Justice (FINJUS)
International organization participationACP, BCIE, Caricom (observer), FAO, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO (correspondent), ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA (observer), MIGA, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, PetroCaribe, RG, SICA (associated member), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Flag descriptiona centered white cross that extends to the edges divides the flag into four rectangles - the top ones are blue (hoist side) and red, and the bottom ones are red (hoist side) and blue; a small coat of arms featuring a shield supported by an olive branch (left) and a palm branch (right) is at the center of the cross; above the shield a blue ribbon displays the motto, DIOS, PATRIA, LIBERTAD (God, Fatherland, Liberty), and below the shield, REPUBLICA DOMINICANA appears on a red ribbon

Economy - overviewThe Dominican Republic has enjoyed strong GDP growth since 2005 and continued to post sound gains through mid-2008. The global recession, however, had a significant impact on GDP growth in the latter half of the year as tourism and remittances, two of the Dominican Republic's most important economic contributors, showed signs of slowing. The economy is highly dependent upon the US, the destination for about two-thirds of exports. Remittances from the US amount to about a tenth of GDP, equivalent to almost half of exports and three-quarters of tourism receipts. The country has long been viewed primarily as an exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco but in recent years the service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy's largest employer due to growth in tourism and free trade zones. Although 2007 saw inflation around 6%, the rate grew to over 12% in 2008. High food prices, driven by the effects of consecutive tropical storms on agricultural products, and education prices were significant contributors to the jump. The effects of the global financial crisis and the US recession are projected to negatively affect GDP growth in 2009 with a rebound expected in 2010. Although the economy is growing at a respectable rate, high unemployment and underemployment remains an important challenge. The country suffers from marked income inequality; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GNP, while the richest 10% enjoys nearly 40% of national income. The Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) came into force in March 2007, which should boost investment and exports and reduce losses to the Asian garment industry.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$78.19 billion (2008 est.)
$74.25 billion (2007 est.)
$68.43 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$44.44 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)5.3% (2008 est.)
8.5% (2007 est.)
10.7% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$8,200 (2008 est.)
$7,900 (2007 est.)
$7,400 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 10.8%
industry: 22.9%
services: 66.3% (2008 est.)
Labor force4.119 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 14.6%
industry: 22.3%
services: 63.1% (2005)
Unemployment rate(%)14.1% (2008 est.)
15.6% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)42.2% (2004)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: 1.5%
highest 10%: 38.7% (2005)
Distribution of family income - Gini index49.9 (2005)
47.4 (1998)
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)19.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $7.46 billion
expenditures: $9.027 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)10.6% (2008 est.)
6.1% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$3.619 billion (31 December 2008)
$4.074 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$5.902 billion (31 December 2008)
$5.631 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$17.37 billion (31 December 2008)
$15.92 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Economic aid - recipient$76.99 million (2005)

Public debt(% of GDP)37.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
61.1% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productssugarcane, coffee, cotton, cocoa, tobacco, rice, beans, potatoes, corn, bananas; cattle, pigs, dairy products, beef, eggs
Industriestourism, sugar processing, ferronickel and gold mining, textiles, cement, tobacco

Industrial production growth rate(%)1.3% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$4.436 billion (2008 est.)
-$2.068 billion (2007 est.)
Exports$6.95 billion (2008 est.)
$7.16 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)ferronickel, sugar, gold, silver, coffee, cocoa, tobacco, meats, consumer goods
Exports - partners(%)US 58.1%, Haiti 9.3%, Netherlands 2.9% (2008)
Imports$16.1 billion (2008 est.)
$13.6 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)foodstuffs, petroleum, cotton and fabrics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals
Imports - partners(%)US 39.2%, Venezuela 7.7%, Mexico 5.4%, Colombia 4.9% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$2.288 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$2.562 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$11.42 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$10.21 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$15.59 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$12.71 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$59 million (31 December 2008 est.)
Exchange ratesDominican pesos (DOP) per US dollar - 34.775 (2008 est.), 33.113 (2007), 33.406 (2006), 30.409 (2005), 42.12 (2004)

Currency (code)Dominican peso (DOP)

Telephones - main lines in use985,700 (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular7.21 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: relatively efficient system based on island-wide microwave radio relay network
domestic: fixed telephone line density is about 10 per 100 persons; multiple providers of mobile cellular service with a subscribership of roughly 75 per 100 persons
international: country code - 1-809; landing point for the Americas Region Caribbean Ring System (ARCOS-1) fiber-optic telecommunications submarine cable that provides links to South and Central America, parts of the Caribbean, and US; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)
Internet country code.do
Internet users2.147 million (2008)
Airports35 (2009)
Roadways(km)total: 19,705 km
paved: 9,872 km
unpaved: 9,833 km (2002)

Ports and terminalsBoca Chica, Caucedo, Puerto Plata, Rio Haina, Santo Domingo
Military branchesArmy, Navy, Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Dominicana, FAD) (2009)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18 years of age for voluntary military service (2007)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 2,440,203
females age 16-49: 2,326,694 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 2,056,774
females age 16-49: 1,921,836 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 97,766
female: 93,922 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)0.8% of GDP (2006)
Disputes - internationalHaitian migrants cross the porous border into the Dominican Republic to find work; illegal migrants from the Dominican Republic cross the Mona Passage each year to Puerto Rico to find better work

Trafficking in personscurrent situation: the Dominican Republic is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; a large number of Dominican women are trafficked into prostitution and sexual exploitation in Western Europe, Australia, Central and South America, and Caribbean destinations; a significant number of women, boys, and girls are trafficked within the country for sexual exploitation and domestic servitude
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - for a second consecutive year, the Dominican Republic is on the Tier 2 Watch List for its failure to show evidence of increasing efforts to combat human trafficking, particularly in terms of not adequately investigating and prosecuting public officials who may be complicit with trafficking activity, and inadequate government efforts to protect trafficking victims; the government has taken measures to reduce demand for commercial sex acts with children through criminal prosecutions (2008)
Electricity - production(kWh)14.02 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 92%
hydro: 7.6%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0.4% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)12.7 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Oil - production(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)119,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)116,200 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)0 bbl
Natural gas - production(cu m)0 cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)470 million cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m (2008)
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)1.1% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS62,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths4,100 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseasesdegree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
vectorborne diseases: dengue fever and malaria
water contact disease: leptospirosis (2009)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 87%
male: 86.8%
female: 87.2% (2002 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)(years)total: 12 years
male: 12 years
female: 13 years (2004)
Education expenditures(% of GDP)3.6% of GDP (2006)








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