Describing The Dominican Republic

The Island of Hispaniola, of which the eastern part is the Dominican Republic, lies 19º north of the equator and at about longitude 70º west between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. It is south and east of Cuba in an island chain known as the Greater Antilles, which includes also Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.The Republic is a small country about twice the area of New Hampshire. The capital city, Santo Domingo, is on the south coast. The rest of the Island of Hispaniola is the country of Haiti

Since 1966 there has been a democratically elected government consisting of a president, congress and senate. The system of government is very similar to that of the United States of America. There is universal suffrage for persons over 18 years and voting is compulsory except that members of the armed forces and the police cannot vote. The legal system is based on French civil codes although modified in 2004 towards an accusatory system.

The country is generally well educated with about 85% of the population literate. The national language is Spanish and some 95% of the people are Roman Catholics neither facts being surprising given the early Spanish and French occupation of Hispaniola.

The economy is well diversified and only recently did the service sector (including the government) become the largest employer with the growth in the tourist industry. This activity now contributes some 58% of the GDP compared with industry at 31% and agriculture at 11%. The Dominican Republic produces the usual range of tropical agricultural crops. Livestock makes up the rest of the agricultural sector. Industries include, as mentioned above, tourism and also mining and the processing of cement, tobacco, sugar and textiles.

The country is not totally idyllic. Increasing numbers attempt to reach Puerto Rico in search of work. The Dominican Republic has also become a transshipment point for South American drugs destined for the U.S. and Europe and Colombian dealers use the Republic’s banks for financial dealings and money laundering.

Perhaps the best way to gain an impression of the country is via its tourism promotions. There are many good tourist internet sites giving both general and specific information. Amstar, which describes itself as a Destination Management Company provides details of local and easily reached offshore attractions. In addition to commercial interest in tourism in the Dominican Republic there has also been academic attention given to the subject as the first two PDF documents on this site shows. The government has not been reticent in encouraging the tourist industry with the production of its own site. The Dominican Republic’s diplomatic offices in the United States of America and the United Kingdom also promote the country’s tourist attractions and business opportunities. The U.S. Department of State provides detailed information on a wide range of topics specific to travel to the Dominican Republic which will be of interest to travelers from all countries.

The Dominican Republic is very much a place where the “golden rule” has to be applied. It is essential that at least one if not more visits should be made before coming to any decision about permanent retirement here. It is easy to find much negative comment about this country, its infrastructure, its government authorities (especially some sections of the police force) and its people. The adverse remarks have to balanced with the fact that all countries and cities have unattractive and less than safe areas.

The links at the "Resources" tab on this site and the book "How to Retire in the Dominican Republic" by Les Johns will add to the information available to you without extensive and sometimes distracting web searches. The book can be bought directly from this site.

Other Considerations

There is no doubt that the Dominican Republic could satisfy those with a preference for city life or those who aspire to retirement in a "laid back" tropical paradise. The variety of climatic conditions available in such a small country is surprising. Spanish is the official language of the country and in which street signs and restaurant menus are written. Even though the people linked to the tourist trade generally speak English, knowing some Spanish is a great advantage. Information on the language and matters of social and business manners and etiquette are available. The tourist friendly Dominican Republic makes the “golden rule” easy and pleasant to apply with simple accessibility of tourist visas.

There are many useful links at the "Resources" tab on this site. Reference to these and to the book "How to Retire in the Dominican Republic" by Les Johns, available from this site will greatly reduce research time for intending retirees.