The Dominican Republic is jam-packed with unique cultures and rich history. Below, we’ll introduce 35 fun facts about the Dominican Republic that are sure to capture your interest.
The Caribbean is famous for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and luxury resorts. However, the Dominican Republic isn’t just another sunny place to don your shorts and drink cocktails.
Dominican Republic At-a-Glance
Location: Eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola, Caribbean.
Population: 10.79 million (2023 est.).
Capital City: Santo Domingo.
Area: 48,670 sq km.
Official Languages: Spanish.
Predominant Religion: Roman Catholic 44.3%, Evangelical 13% (2018 est.).
Climate: Tropical maritime, little seasonal temperature variation.
(Source: The World Factbook)
General Facts About the Dominican Republic
1. The Dominican Republic is in the Caribbean on the island of Hispaniola. The island nation is the second-largest Caribbean state.
2. Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic. More than 85% of the current population are native Dominican Spanish speakers. Haitian Creole and Samana English are also spoken across the nation.
3. Christianity is the most widely followed religion in the Dominican Republic. Almost 50% of Dominicans identify as Catholics. Around 13% of the population identifies themselves as Evangelical. Approximately 15% of the nation is unaffiliated.
4. The Dominican Republic boasts varied landscapes, from stunning beaches along its 1,000-mile (1,609-kilometer) coastline to lush mountains and fertile valleys inland. The island nation’s terrain also consists of savannah, rainforest, and highlands, including the Caribbean’s tallest mountain (Pico Duarte).
5. The Dominican Republic is famous for its natural attractions like Punta Cana, Jarabacoa, and Samana Bay. The nation is also well-known for its UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, such as the Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve, which preserves unique ecosystems. Lake Enriquillo, the largest lake in the Caribbean and located below sea level, is inhabited by more than 400 freshwater crocodiles.
6. Annually, from mid-December through March, Samana Bay witnesses the return of approximately 3,000 to 5,000 humpback whales from the North Atlantic for the birthing of their young.
Interesting Facts About Dominican Republic History
7. The recorded history of the Dominican Republic only started in 1492 when Christopher Columbus landed on the island. However, evidence suggests the ancient indigenous Taíno people began to arrive by canoe from Belize between 6000 and 4000 BC.
8. El Pomier, a complex of over 50 caves, contains the most extensive collection of prehistoric Taíno rock art in the Caribbean. There are more than 6,000 drawings in the caves, dating back more than 2,000 years.
9. The Taíno people who used to inhabit the Dominican Republic rarely wore any clothes. Men and unmarried women would go about their day naked. Married women would wear a small apron called a nagua, while men would occasionally wear a loincloth.
10. Men and women from the ancient Dominican Republic wore earrings, necklaces, and nose rings, occasionally made of gold. These pieces of jewelry would usually be worn during special occasions.
11. The Taínos invented a particular type of ritual seat called a “duho.” Duhos were intricately carved wooden seats that depicted a man on all fours. They were created between 1200 and 1500 AD and were commonly found in caves around Santo Domingo.
12. The Taíno people of the ancient Dominican Republic played a ball game called “Batey.” This game would often be played using a solid rubber ball. The game had both recreational and ceremonial purposes.
13. The arrival of European explorers brought diseases like smallpox to the Dominican Republic, which devastated the Taíno population. Over two years in the 1500s, approximately 50% of the Taíno population died. That’s almost 500,000 people.
14. Santo Domingo, the capital city, is home to the Americas’ oldest continuously inhabited European settlement. Due to its historical importance (the city is renowned for establishing the Americas’ first university, hospital, and cathedral), it was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.
15. The Cathedral of Santa María la Menor in Santo Domingo is the oldest cathedral in the Americas. It was built between 1512 and 1540.
16. The Dominican Republic is one of just a few countries worldwide that has fought and won independence twice. Therefore, the nation celebrates two Independence Days, one from Spain in 1821 and the other from Haiti in 1844.
17. From the 15th to 17th century, the Dominican Republic was a haven for pirates. Pirates would hide around Catalina Island to ambush and raid Spanish ships. In the 16th century, the infamous pirate Francis Drake plundered Santo Domingo.
18. The Dominican Republic is the only nation in the world with the Bible on its national flag. Designed by Juan Pablo Duarte, the flag was first hoisted in February 1844 before it became the official flag in November of the same year.
19. The Dominican Republic is famous for a genre of music and dance called merengue. This Latin music genre was first created in the Dominican Republic in the 1800s. It was initially played with European stringed instruments, but the accordion replaced them.
20. The soulful music genre of bachata, known for its romantic ballads, originated in the Dominican Republic in the early 20th century. It consists mainly of Spanish, African, and indigenous Taíno musical elements.
21. The rare blue gemstone Larimar is found exclusively in the Dominican Republic. It’s often referred to as the “Caribbean Gem,” and it is believed many of the ancient inhabitants of the Dominican Republic were aware of the stone before mining began in 1974.
Fun Facts About the Modern Dominican Republic
22. Not everyone in the Dominican Republic has the right to vote. Military personnel, national police, and convicted criminals aren’t permitted to vote in elections.
23. The Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean, with more than 6.4 million annual visitors. That makes it the 5th most visited place in the Americas.
24. The Dominican Republic stands at the forefront of eco-friendly and sustainable tourism initiatives, safeguarding around 25% of its terrestrial and marine areas through a network of national parks, reserves, and sanctuaries.
25. The “Amber Coast” on the North Coast stands out for its transparent Dominican amber, a fossilized tree resin. The Amber Museum in Puerto Plata showcases a notable amber stone with a prehistoric mosquito, famously featured in “Jurassic Park.”
26. The Dominican Republic has been ranked 1st worldwide for traffic accident fatalities. According to statistics, there are 65 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants. The island nation is followed by Zimbabwe and Venezuela.
27. In 2018, the Dominican Republic became the first country in South America to ban plastic bags. In 2021, a single-use plastic law was enforced, regulating the use of single-use plastics in food establishments.
28. Behind the United States, the Dominican Republic produces the highest number of Major League Baseball Players in the world. Approximately 50 active players from the Dominican Republic play in the Major League Baseball. It goes without saying that baseball is the nation’s national sport.
29. Notable baseball stars hailing from the Dominican Republic include Sammy Sosa, Albert Pujols, Juan Marichal, Vladimir Guerrero, Pedro Martinez, and David Ortiz.
30. The Dominican Republic is a major producer of cigars, with almost half of the world’s cigars coming out of the country. The nation’s significant role in the cigar industry is attributed to the migration of Cuban cigar makers to the country following the U.S. embargo against Cuba.
31. The Dominican Republic is home to some of the strangest animal species in the world. Fine examples include the solenodon, a rare mammal species, and a rare lizard species called rhinoceros iguana.
32. On a specific hill in Barahona, your car will defy gravity and roll uphill instead of down. The optical illusion happens at a magnetic pole called Polo Magnetico.
33. The Dominican Republic hosts vibrant and colorful celebrations throughout February and March called the Carnival. Each city adds its unique touch to the festivities. Carnival celebrations typically feature elaborate costumes, masks, music, and dance.
34. Holy Week, or Semana Santa, is a significant religious and cultural tradition in the Dominican Republic. It involves a series of processions, reenactments of biblical scenes, and religious ceremonies leading up to Easter Sunday.
35. On February 2nd, Dominicans celebrate Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus Christ, where they light candles and make offerings to the Virgin Mary. This is a traditional Christian holiday.
Before You Go…
Embark on a Caribbean journey by exploring fun facts about Belize, the Jewel of the Caribbean, and its unique allure.