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Introduction

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The Dominican Republic (Spanish: República Dominicana [reˈpuβliˌka ðoˌminiˈkana]) is a sovereign state located in the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that are shared by two countries. The Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation by area (after Cuba) at 48,445 square kilometers (18,705 sq mi), and third by population with approximately 10 million people, of which approximately three million live in the metropolitan area of Santo Domingo, the capital city.

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Christopher Columbus landed on the island on December 5, 1492, which the native Taíno people had inhabited since the 7th century. The colony of Santo Domingo became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, the oldest continuously inhabited city, and the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World. After more than three hundred years of Spanish rule the Dominican people declared independence in November 1821. The leader of the independence movement José Núñez de Cáceres, intended the Dominican nation to unite with the country of Gran Colombia, but no longer under Spain's custody the newly independent Dominicans were forcefully annexed by Haiti in February 1822. Independence came 22 years later after victory in the Dominican War of Independence in 1844. Over the next 72 years the Dominican Republic experienced mostly internal conflicts and a brief return to colonial status (but Spain had not come to take away its independence) before permanently ousting Spanish rule during the Dominican War of Restoration of 1863–1865. A United States occupation lasted eight years between 1916 and 1924, and a subsequent calm and prosperous six-year period under Horacio Vásquez was followed by the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo until 1961. A civil war in 1965, the country's last, was ended by U.S. military occupation and was followed by the authoritarian rule of Joaquín Balaguer (1966–1978 & 1986–1996), the rules of Antonio Guzmán (1972–1978) & Salvador Jorge Blanco (1982–1986). Since 1996, the Dominican Republic has moved toward representative democracy and has been led by Leonel Fernández for most of the time since 1996. Danilo Medina, the Dominican Republic's current president, succeeded Fernandez in 2012, winning 51% of the electoral vote over his opponent ex-president Hipólito Mejía.

The Dominican Republic has the ninth-largest economy in Latin America and is the largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region. Over the last two decades, the Dominican Republic has had one of the fastest-growing economies in the Americas – with an average real GDP growth rate of 5.4% between 1992 and 2014. GDP growth in 2014 and 2015 reached 7.3 and 7.0%, respectively, the highest in the Western Hemisphere. In the first half of 2016 the Dominican economy grew 7.4% continuing its trend of rapid economic growth. Recent growth has been driven by construction, manufacturing, tourism, and mining. The country is the site of the second largest gold mine in the world, the Pueblo Viejo mine. Private consumption has been strong, as a result of low inflation (under 1% on average in 2015), job creation, as well as a high level of remittances.

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The peso oro is the currency of the Dominican Republic. Its symbol is "$", with "RD$" used when distinction from other pesos (or dollars) is required; its ISO 4217 code is "DOP". Each peso is divided into 100 centavos, for which the ¢ symbol is used. It is the only currency which is legal tender for all monetary transactions, whether public or private, in the Dominican Republic.

The first Dominican peso was introduced in 1844. It replaced the Haitian gourde at par and was divided into 8 reales. The Dominican Republic decimalized in 1877, subdividing the peso into 100 centavos. A second currency, the franco, was issued between 1891 and 1897 but did not replace the peso. However, in 1905, the peso was replaced by the U.S. dollar, at a rate of 5 pesos to the dollar. The peso oro was introduced in 1937 at par with the U.S. dollar, although the dollar continued to be used alongside the peso oro until 1947. (more...)

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Dominicans are people who are ethnically associated with the Dominican Republic. Dominican was historically the name for the inhabitants of the Captaincy General of Santo Domingo, the site of the first European settlement in the Western Hemisphere. The culture held in common by most Dominicans is referred to as mainstream Dominican culture, a mixture of different influences and customs having origins predominately in a European cultural basis, largely derived from the traditions of Spain, especially from Andalusia and the Canary Islands. The country has also been highly influenced by African culture, and Native Taino being a significant minority. The Dominican Republic has also received immigration from other parts of Spain such as Catalonia as well as from other European countries such as France and Portugal. (more...)

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The National Palace is a building in Santo Domingo, that houses the offices of the Executive Branch (Presidency and Vice Presidency) of the Dominican Republic.

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