We’ve just returned from our fourth winter get-away trip to the Dominican Republic (aka the DR), four trips spread over nearly 40 years. Each visit was special, but this time was particularly so because we spent a week in the glorious DR sun with our entire family of kids, spouses, and grandkids. It doesn’t get any better than that. The Dominican Republic abounds in resorts to fit every need, and their destinations are so popular that, in Canada at least, charter flights can take you there (as well as to Cuba) from an amazing variety of small regional airports. Nothing easier.
The draw for northerners is most definitely the beautiful white-sand beaches, warm sun, and the beckoning azure Caribbean waters, but the Dominican Republic has a story worth telling and also a rich diversity of landscapes that most winter tourists don’t get a chance to see.
- The Dominican Republic, a Spanish-speaking country, shares the Caribbean Island of Hispanola with Haiti, a French- and Creole-speaking country (one with enormous challenges).
- With a population of 10 million people, the DR is the third most populous country in the Caribbean.
- It is the second largest Caribbean country in land mass after Cuba.
- The DR is the most popular tourist destination of any Caribbean country.
- Its capital, Santa Domingo, is the oldest continuously occupied city in the western hemisphere, having been established by Christopher Columbus’s brother, Bartholomew, in 1498.
- The national sport of the DR is baseball, and some of the biggest stars in Major League Baseball are Dominicans. Our beloved Blue Jays have, and have had, a number of fabulous Dominican players, including Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Melky Cabrera, Kendrys Morales, Jose Reyes, and George Bell.
- The DR has had to gain independence several times over. The first attempt was from Spain in 1821, then from forced Haitian unification in 1844, followed by some periods of internal strife, the Trujillo dictatorship decades, and a few periods of occupation by the Americans. But since the late 1970s, the country has experienced stable representative democracy. It is now the largest economy in the Caribbean region and has enjoyed one of the fastest-growing economies in the Americas.
- The country has a diversity of geographical landscapes, including mountain ranges, fertile valleys tucked in between the mountain ranges, lakes and rivers, some less fertile flat land closer to the coastline, and its renowned and extensive beaches. Most tourists only see the coastal areas.
- The country has a more diversified economy than one might expect. Aside from tourism, they export sugar, coffee, cocoa (chocolate), and tobacco products. They also have a manufacturing sector and mining. The DR is home to the second largest gold mine in the world!
- Merengue is the National Dance of the Dominican Republic. Why not give it a try?!
I’ll let a few pictures from our recent trip provide an additional look at what the Dominican Republic has to offer.
Images by Jane Fritz, Maps from Dominican Republic Tourism