The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola and borders Haiti. The country is home to a richly diverse culture of Spanish, African and French influences. Its multicultural identity is a result of the island being settled by the Spanish and the subsequent battle for control over the country
The island of Hispaniola was the first New World colony settled by Spain. Christopher Columbus first sighted the island in 1492 toward the end of his first voyage to "the Indies." Columbus and his crew found the island inhabited by a large population of Taino Indians, who made the explorers welcome. The land was fertile, but of greater importance to the Spaniards was the discovery of gold.Spain's first permanent settlement in the New World was established on the southern coast at the present site of Santo Domingo. The presence of gold and a population of natives who could be used as laborers attracted many Spanish newcomers during the early years. Through the next hundreds of years, the Spanish, French and Haitians all battled for control of the island. The nation did not enjoy full independence until 1844, when it emerged from twenty-two years of occupation by Haiti. Contemporarily, the establishment of a democratic process in 1978 was a promising development and has led to economic growth and progress in the country that is continuing today,mainly due to the growth of the tourism industry.
Education has been reformed in recent years. The Dominican Republic had a struggling education system but higher education has enjoyed significant growth that continues today. Dominican universities are renowned and competitive. The country is home to the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo which, established in 1538, is the oldest university in the Americas. The Dominican Republic offers many opportunities for students interested in archaeology, history, geography and the natural sciences.
When it comes to tradition and pastimes, the Dominican Republic cherishes music, dancing and baseball. The national dance is the merengue and dancers move to music made by native instruments such as the tambora (small drum) and melodeon (accordion-like instrument). Parades and dancing in the street are common and the air is continually filled with the sounds of the merengue, creating an atmosphere of joy. Additional, baseball is more of a passion in the Dominican Republic than simply just the national sport. Many famous Major League Baseball stars as Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa are from the Dominican Republic. It is common to find young boys playing baseball in fields, hoping to emulate their heroes.
The Dominican Republic is a beautiful country with much to offer to students and adventurers who are in search of an education in the Caribbean.