Pedernales Province

Pedernales (from Spanish 'flints'; pronounced [peðeɾˈnales]) is the southernmost province of the Dominican Republic, including the offshore island of Isla Beata. It was split from Barahona in 1957. Of its 2,074.53 km², 1374 km² belong to the Jaragua National Park.

Jaragua National Park in Pedernales, Dominican Republic
Jaragua National Park in Pedernales, Dominican Republic
Coat of arms of Pedernales
Coat of arms
Location of the Pedernales Province
Location of the Pedernales Province
Country Dominican Republic
Province since1957
 • TypeSubdivisions
 • Body2 municipalities
2 municipal districts
 • Congresspersons1 Senator
2 Deputies
 • Total2,074.53 km2 (800.98 sq mi)
 • Total52,165
 • Density25/km2 (65/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-4 (AST)
Area code1-809 1-829 1-849
ISO 3166-2DO-16
Postal Code84000

The capital of the province, Pedernales, was originally called Juan López, who was a Spanish inhabitant who had settled in the area around the 19th century.[citation needed]

The province was called Pedernales after the river located on the border with Haiti, in which flint is abundant. The indigenous people of the Dominican Republic, the Taíno, used them to make sharp tools, such as axes and arrowheads.[citation needed]


The province of Pedernales is located in the southwest of the Dominican Republic, sharing its borders with the neighboring Haiti. It is located 330 km (kilometers) from Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital. It is part of the region called Enriquillo, and it is the seventh largest province in the country, with 2,042.40 km² (square kilometers). It borders the province of Independencia to the north, and the province of Barahona to the east.

Pedernales is located in a geomorphological region known as Procurrente de Barahona. The area of Pedernales has some of the most arid lands in the country. It is formed by successive marine terraces. The lowest part of these is on the edge of the coast, less than 100 m s. n. m. (meters above sea level). As one moves away from the sea, the elevations grow to 400 m. Upon entering the north, the ground continues to rise up to the Sierra de Bahoruco. Mount Vincent, with an elevation of about 2046 m, is the highest point of the province.[citation needed]

The territory of Pedernales has several adjacent lands, such as Isla Beata, Isla Los Frailes, Alto Velo Island, and Cayo Piedra Negra making it a strategic place for fishermen. Historically it was considered important[who?], as it served as an orientation for Spanish and French ships during the colonial era that wanted to reach the Western expanse of the island. In addition, its natural conditions allow the nesting of seabirds and other endemic species.


Historical map of Pedernales area.

The Taíno arrived in Hispaniola around the 8th century A.D.[citation needed]. They lived from agriculture, fishing, hunting, and gathering fruits.

At that time, the island was divided into 5 chiefdoms or regions. The Province of Pedernales occupies the territory of what was previously the chiefdom of Jaragua. When the Spanish arrived, Cacique Bohechío was the head of this chiefdom. The inhabitants of this land were characterized by their rebellion, since they were against the oppression that the Spanish subjected them. During the sixteenth century, this land was a refuge for the chief Enriquillo, a Taíno prince, as he was rebelling.

In 1493, Christopher Columbus discovered Beata Island, and considered it a strategic point for ships, due to its geographical location. This attracted several people who later settled on the shores of the island. The Spanish also kept cattle on the island for the new maritime expeditions.

When Hispaniola was divided into a French and a Spanish colony, the Pedernales River was set as a border limit. From 1844, until the signing of the territorial division treaty (1929-1936), there were several incidents and border conflicts in the Enriquillo and Pedernales region. In 1867, the island of Alto Velo was granted to a North American company. Salt extraction was also started in the Beata lagoons.

The settlement of Pedernales began in 1927, during the government of Horacio Vásquez. It was included in the border colonization plan, which aimed to integrate the area with the rest of the country.

Its first administrator was Socrates Nolasco, appointed on April 13, 1927 by Rafael Espaillat, Minister of Agriculture and Immigration (a descendant of Ulises Francisco Espaillat). He was in charge of coordinating the construction of the first town of Pedernales. Pedernales was created on December 16, 1957.

Economy and populationEdit

Bauxite mining in Cabo Rojo.

The main activity in the province is currently agriculture, producing coffee and beef cattle. Fishing is also an important activity, being one of the provinces with the highest catch of fish and lobsters. Limestone mining in Cabo Rojo is also important.

The number of farms in the province amounts to a total of 1,128, which represents only 0.004% of the total number of farms in the country[citation needed], though relatively arid Pedernales has some areas where the land can be very fertile, mainly based on irrigation canals. This has allowed the cultivation of products such as cotton, beans, peanuts, bananas, cassava, coffee, bananas, corn, tobacco, coconut, among others.

Juancho, Pedernales wind farm.

According to statistical data, Pedernales is the least densely populated province in the Dominican Republic[citation needed]. For 2010, the total population reached 31,587 people: 16,895 men and 14,692 women, with a density of 15.7 inhabitants / km² (inhabitants per square kilometer). The predominant ethnic groups are 78% mulatto or mestizo, 13% black and 9% white.

Until 1927, before the Rafael Trujillo regime, the area was inhabited almost entirely by Haitians.[citation needed] Together with the founding of the province, the government imposed measures to raise the Dominican population, stop the Haitian migration, and integrate the province more into the rest of the country.

Municipalities and municipal districtsEdit

Municipalities of Pedernales Province.

The province as of June 20, 2006 is divided into the following municipalities (municipios) and municipal districts (distrito municipal - M.D.) within them:[1]

The following is a sortable table of the municipalities and municipal districts with population figures as of the 2012 census. Urban population are those living in the seats (cabeceras literally heads) of municipalities or of municipal districts. Rural population are those living in the districts (Secciones literally sections) and neighborhoods (Parajes literally places) outside of them.[2]

For comparison with the municipalities and municipal districts of other provinces see the list of municipalities and municipal districts of the Dominican Republic.

Name Total population Urban population Rural population
Oviedo 10,986 3,699 7,287
Pedernales 27,955 16,967 10,988
Pedernales province 38,941 20,666 18,275


  1. ^ Oficina Nacional de Estadistica, Departamento de Cartografia, Division de Limites y Linderos. "Listado de Codigos de Provincias, Municipio y Distritos Municipales, Actualizada a Junio 20 del 2006" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on March 14, 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-24.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Consejo Nacional de Población y Familia. "Censos y Proyecciones de la Población Dominicana por Regiones, Provincias, Municipios y Distritos Municipales, 2012" (PDF) (in Spanish). Retrieved 2012-01-11.[permanent dead link]