THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
The island’s laidback lifestyle, pristine beaches and virgin nature are the perfect trifecta for relieving stress and recharging your energy. Whenever you hear “mañana” you can be sure you have reached the point when you can relax to the fullest. The term implies “to do something tomorrow” or “to leave something for never” and it is meant to remind us that one should not overly worry about the things that do not work out or go well. This philosophy contrasts the fast-paced tempo of our everyday lives and makes Dominican Republic the perfect refuge from its pressures.
Modern history of the country and the whole island (called Hispaniola) begins in 1492 with the arrival of Christopher Columbus and his three ships. Since then, it became a cultural melting-pot, benefiting from the influences of Europe, Africa and the Americas. Despite still being considered a developing country, Dominican Republic has a stably growing economic with vast opportunities for investment. Besides mining and metallurgy, textiles and sugar production, the country relies heavily on tourism and services linked to it. Dominican Republic is a Catholic country, but some customs (like the Carnaval in La Vega every February) showcase the influence of other religions, especially that of Haitian voodoo.
Locals are welcoming and friendly, with a lively, amicable approach to life. Dancing (merengue, bachata and salsa), music (reggaeton, dembow, latin jazz and folk music) and sports (baseball, basketball) are the ever-present, typical activities tied to Dominican culture. Dominicans also like to dress nice and take care of themselves – the women tend to go to the salon even multiple times a week and you can often see them out and about wearing hair rollers and hair nets, because there is always something to get ready for.
During your visit, you can spend your days relaxing at the white sand beaches or see some of the many natural treasures. La Caleta Underwater National Park is great for experienced or amateur divers who like to explore shipwrecks and enjoy the abundant marine life. Another amazing place to visit is Hoyo Azul, a natural limestone sinkhole with a lake filled with bright turquoise water.
Sightseeing is also an option: The main attraction in Santo Domingo is its historical center, Zona Colonial, where you can see the ruins of the first hospital in the Americas (Hospital San Nicolas de Bari) built in 1503 and the very first cathedral, Catedral Primada De America, built in the first half in 16th century combining the Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance styles. Until recently it held the remains of Christopher Columbus himself. If you please to amuse all of your senses, you can spend your evening dining out, tasting local rums, pairing them with cigars from the famous La Aurora factory. Outside of the Colonial Zone, you can visit Faro A Colon, or the Columbus Lighthouse, a museum and a mausoleum which is the dominant of Santo Domingo Este.
The official language is Spanish, but thanks to heavy tourism and rising educational standards a lot of people speak English, too. You can also encounter speakers of Creole French (coming from Haiti), French, German or Italian.
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