Country occupying the eastern two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. The western part is occupied by Haiti (see fig.). The capital is Santo Domingo, and Spanish is the official language; the population (7.4 million in 1996) is of mixed African, Indian, and European descent. It has the highest mountain in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte (3075 m), but also includes much rich agricultural land with large plantations. Cultivation of sugar cane began in the 16th century, and its need for a large workforce led to imposition of slavery on the Amerindian population and importation of Africans for forced labor; ratification of the abolition of slavery took place in 1844. Mining of nickel and textile manufacture are also important, although tourism is the main source of foreign exchange.
Janet Henshall Momsen
The Dominican Republic is the oldest settlement of European origin in America. After its discovery by ...