The DR delights visitors with its mix of white-sand beaches and “gingerbread” Victorian architecture. Nine hundred miles of Caribbean coastline make the Hispaniola Island country a beach-lover’s paradise. Day-trip to Puerto Plata and ride the cable car up Mount Isabel de Torres, or groove to the steel drum beats of Cabarete nightlife. The breezy palms and sparkling waters of Punta Cana make it a true tropical paradise. The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti and is the second-largest nation in the Caribbean. It continues to be a popular tourist destination for its beautiful white-sand beaches and pristine blue water, picturesque mountains, dazzling waterfalls, and of course, its tropical climate.
A little of History – The eastern half of the island of Hispaniola, now known as the Dominican Republic, is the earliest of all the European colonies in the western hemisphere. The settlement of Santo Domingo is established on the south coast in 1496 by Diego Columbus, younger brother of the explorer. It becomes the main base for Spanish activities until the conquest of Mexico.mIn 1664 the Spanish lose to the French the western half of the island, or Haiti, which is liberated from colonial rule by Toussaint L’Ouverture in the 1790s. Toussaint is rapidly followed by several others in the rule of Haiti. The most effective of these is Boyer, during whose presidency the two halves of the island are forcibly reunited.
Haiti achieves some degree of stability under Jean Pierre Boyer, who wins power after the death of Henri Christophe in 1820. Two years later Boyer invades and overwhelms the eastern half of the island, Santo Domingo, where the inhabitants have in 1821 risen in rebellion against Spain. Boyer rules French-speaking Haiti, and governs Spanish-speaking Santo Domingo as a conquered province, until he is overthrown in a revolution in 1843. The upheaval of that year also gives Santo Domingo the chance to throw off the yoke of Haiti. The eastern half of the island proclaims its independence, as the Dominican Republic, in 1844. Hispaniola, the oldest European colony in the western hemisphere, becomes also the first region to be free.
However, by extreme contrast, the vast majority of the national population lives in distressed conditions and it is the Haitian-Dominicans who suffer the most. In the mid-1900s, Haitian migrant workers came to the Dominican Republic to work in the sugarcane fields. Historically, racial tension and prejudice has always been a problem between these two nations and it still is today. Today, the children and grandchildren of these migrants, despite being born in the Dominican Republic, are not recognized as Dominican citizens. They cannot claim any rights or privileges granted to citizens. They have no access to social services such as education and healthcare. Racial tension and prejudices have exacerbated this desperate situation.
Most of these Haitian-Dominicans still live in the southern and western regions of the country, near the border of Haiti, in bateyes—shantytowns originally built for the migrant sugarcane workers in the 1960s. Most homes in these communities are pieced together with palm-wood boards and corrugated tin roofs…
The Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean’s most geographically diverse countries, with stunning mountain scenery, desert scrublands, evocative colonial architecture and beaches galore.
Travel Advisory /Dominican Republic – Level 3: Reconsider Travel
Reconsider travel to the Dominican Republic due to health and safety measures and COVID-related conditions.
Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for the Dominican Republic due to COVID-19.
The Dominican Republic has lifted stay at home orders, and resumed some transportation options and business operations. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic.
Exercise increased caution in the Dominican Republic due to crime.
Country Summary: Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic. The development of a professional tourist police corps, institution of a 911 system in many parts of the country, and a concentration of resources in resort areas means these tend to be better policed than urban areas like Santo Domingo. The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.
Read the country information page.
If you decide to travel to the Dominican Republic:
- See the U.S. Embassy’s web page regarding COVID-19.
- Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
- Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
- Follow the advice of resort and tour operators regarding local safety and security concerns
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
- Review the Crime and Safety Report for the Dominican Republic.
- U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.