Cities in DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
|Puerto plata||Punta cana|
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.
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.
|Distrito Nacional Santo Domingo||2.800.000|
|Duarte San Francisco de Macorís||275.000|
|Elías Piña Comendador||60.000|
|El Seybo El Seybo||82.000|
|Hato Mayor Hato Mayor del Rey||81.000|
|La Altagracia Higüey||180.000|
|La Romana La Romana||203.000|
|La Vega La Vega||380.000|
|María Trinidad Sánchez Nagua||127.000|
|Monseñor Nouel Bonao||154.000|
|Monte Cristi Monte Cristi||105.000|
|Monte Plata Monte Plata||175.000|
|Puerto Plata Puerto Plata||290.000|
|Sánchez Ramírez Cotuí||155.000|
|San Cristóbal San Cristóbal||500.000|
|San Juan San Juan||233.000|
|San Pedro de Macorís San Pedro Macorís||285.000|
|Santiago Rodríguez Sabaneta||55.000|
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.
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
Foley, E. / Dominican Republic
Times Books International
Froese, G. / Dominicaanse Republiek
Langenbrinck, U. / Dominicaanse Republiek
Latzel, M. / Dominicaanse Republiek
Stow, L. K. / Dominicaanse Republiek
CIA - World Factbook
BBC - Country Profiles
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