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Dominican Republic

Today, the Dominican Republic shares the island with Haiti, a former French colony. Most tourists who come to the island are initially attracted by the magnificent golden sand beaches along its 1,400km (870-mile) coastline. The island’s northern, Atlantic side contains the majority of tourist attractions, hotels and resorts, particularly in the 64km (40-mile) zone between Puerto Plata and Cabarete. Santo Domingo, in the south, features the very first monuments of the American continent: the first cathedral, the first hospital, the first chapel and the first university.

Practical Information

Area: 48 072 km² (18 696 miles²)

Capital: Santo Domingo. Population: 2.2 million

Population: 9.2 million

Currency: Dominican Republic Peso (DOP symbol RD$) = 100 centavos

Government: Republic. Gained independence in 1865, after successive attempts.

Tipping: Hotel and restaurant bills automatically include a 10% service charge (on top of a 12% charge for tax purposes) but an additional tip may be given as an appreciation of good service.

Time zone: GMT - 4

Languages: Spanish

Additional descriptions

Dominican Republic: Social customs

The Dominican lifestyle is more American than Latin, with short siestas and without long, late lunches. The non-Latin ambience is reflected by the fact that, though the culture is rich in Roman CatholicRead more and Spanish influences, 72-hour divorces may be obtained. Daytime dress is generally casual but beachwear and shorts are only acceptable in resorts and at pools; it is considered offensive to enter a church wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Evenings tend to be smarter, with jackets recommended for men at better restaurants, hotels and for social functions.

Dominican Republic: Food and local specialties

Native Dominican cooking combines Spanish influences with local produce. There is plenty of fresh fish and seafood, island-grown tomatoes, lettuce, papaya, mangoes and passion fruit and all citrus fruitsRead more are delicious. Things to know: Beef is expensive (Dominicans raise fine cattle, but most is exported) and local favourites are pork and goat meat. Locally produced beer and rums are cheaper than imported alcohol which tends to be expensive. The national specialties are: La bandera (meaning ‘the flag’, comprising white rice, red beans, stewed meat, salad and fried plaintain). Chicharrones (crisp pork rind). Chicharrones de pollo (small pieces of fried chicken). Sopa criolla dominicana (native soup of meat and vegetables). Pastelón (baked vegetable cake). Presidente (Dominican beer) is very good. Rum drinks such as the local Brugal or Bermudez. Rum añejo (old, dark rum) with ice makes a good after-dinner drink. Native coffee is excellent and very strong.

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