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Puerto plataPunta cana


State structure

The current constitution dates from 1966 and states that the country is a constitutional presidential republic in which human rights are guaranteed. Although it is moving in the right direction, the democratic tradition is still fragile, as human rights violations still occur.

Legislative power rests with the National Congress, which consists of a Senate and a House of Representatives. The Senate has 30 members who are elected for a period of four years. Each province and the Distrito Nacional is represented in the Senate by one person. The Chamber of Representatives is composed of 120 members, also elected for four years. Citizens aged 18 and over, and those who are younger but are or were married, are eligible to vote. The police and army are not allowed to vote.

Executive power rests with the President and his appointed Council of Ministers. The President also appoints senior officials and has the right of veto over decisions by Congress. However, this veto can be overridden by a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress.

The president is directly elected for four years. A second round of presidential elections is necessary if an absolute majority has not been obtained in the first round by the winning candidate. In 1994, a number of constitutional amendments were made and the president was not allowed to rule for a second consecutive term. In 2002, this law was changed again and the incumbent president is allowed to run for a second term. For the current political situation, see History section.

Administrative division

The Dominican Republic is administratively divided into 29 provinces, with the capital Santo Domingo forming a separately administered unit: the Distrito Nacional.

The provinces are governed by a governor who is appointed by the President.

province capitolinhabitants
Azua Azua203.000
Bahoruco Neyba93.000
Barahona Baharona175.000
Dajabón Dajabón59.000
Distrito Nacional Santo Domingo2.800.000
Duarte San Francisco de Macorís275.000
Elías Piña Comendador60.000
El Seybo El Seybo82.000
Espaillat Moca210.000
Hato Mayor Hato Mayor del Rey81.000
Independicia Jimaní47.000
La Altagracia Higüey180.000
La Romana La Romana203.000
La Vega La Vega380.000
María Trinidad Sánchez Nagua127.000
Monseñor Nouel Bonao154.000
Monte Cristi Monte Cristi105.000
Monte Plata Monte Plata175.000
Pedernales Pedernales20.000
Peravia Baní220.000
Puerto Plata Puerto Plata290.000
Salcedo Salcedo92.000
Samaná Samaná93.000
Sánchez Ramírez Cotuí155.000
San Cristóbal San Cristóbal500.000
San Juan San Juan233.000
San Pedro de Macorís San Pedro Macorís285.000
Santiago Santiago812.000
Santiago Rodríguez Sabaneta55.000
Valverde Mao145.000


In a country where social contrasts are still very pronounced, one always finds children on the street because there are not enough teachers and learning resources. Education is particularly lacking in the urban 'zonas populares' and in the countryside.

Parents are legally obliged to send their children to school, six years of primary school and four years of secondary school. In practice, this law is poorly complied with; as a result, about 20% of the population is illiterate. A small group of rich Dominicans can afford to send their children to private schools.

Nevertheless, the school system has improved in recent years. Many secondary schools now have computers with access to the Internet.

Many foreigners come to the Dominican Republic to study at one of the universities or other training institutes. One can study Spanish language and literature or take a course in salsa and merengue or a theatre course.

For higher education, there are many technical colleges and universities. The oldest university, Universidad Autonómica de Santo Domingo, was founded in 1538 out of the first university in the Americas, Universidad Santo Tomás de Aquino.

Altos de Chavón is situated on a rocky plateau and is a village in the style of a 16th century colonial settlement. The village is home to an annex of New York's Parson's School of Design, a fashion school.

Typically Dominican


Tobacco is the oldest export item from the Dominican Republic. Tobacco was first produced commercially for export in 1531, when Europeans accepted it as a new stimulant. The American market is the main destination for exports.

Since the early 1970s there has been tremendous growth, partly caused by the establishment of foreign, even Cuban, companies. In 1997, 250 million cigars were exported, generating revenues of about $200 million. More than 100,000 Dominicans depend directly or indirectly on the cigar industry.

In annual selections, Dominican cigars invariably score high.


Merengue is a musical form and dance in which African rhythms and European melodies are mixed, and is therefore also called 'música mulata'. It is a fusion of the Spanish 'pasodoble' and African dance in a fast four-quarter time.

In the first half of the 19th century, itinerant trios, the "pericos ripiaos", performed. They mainly made dance music for harvest and wedding celebrations. This traditional style of merengue is known as "merengue típico cibaeño".

A merengue band consists of three or four people. The basic rhythm is mainly indicated by the "guayo", a metal cylindrical plate with a ribbed surface. A metal comb is used to grate over the surface, creating a catchy rhythm. This rhythm is supported by the 'maracas' (samba balls) and/or 'cimbeles' (type of castagnettes). The melody is played by an accordion, guitar or marimba.

The 20th century brought new, mainly American, cultural influences and other instruments (wind instruments and piano) to merengue. In the 1970s, merengue became more electronic. Keyboards, bass guitars and drum computers allowed merengue music to compete with other popular music forms such as reggae, salsa and soca.

Important merengue artists include Luis Alberti and his big band Santa Cecilia, Wilfrido Vargas, Juan Luís Guerra, Toño Rosario, Alex Bueno, Fernando Villalona and especially Johnny Ventura.


Bayer, M. / Dominicaanse Republiek

Creed, A. / Dominican Republic
Chelsea House Publishers

Dominicaanse Republiek
Het Spectrum

Foley, E. / Dominican Republic
Times Books International

Froese, G. / Dominicaanse Republiek
Van Reemst

Langenbrinck, U. / Dominicaanse Republiek

Latzel, M. / Dominicaanse Republiek

Stow, L. K. / Dominicaanse Republiek

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
Copyright: Team The World of Info