The Dominican Republic is a major tourist destination visited by millions each year, many of whom are interested in its capital city, the oldest European settlement in the Americas.
In this post I’ll cover what is the capital of Dominican Republic and the most important information about this city.
What is the capital of Dominican Republic?
The capital of the Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo, the first Spanish colony in America.
The Dominican Republic is located on the southeast coast of the Hispaniola island, in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the West Indies, which it shares with the neighbouring Haiti. With an estimated population of 2.9 million people, it is the largest city in the Caribbean by population.
The first city on this land was called New Isabela and it honored Queen Isabella I. The city was later named after Saint Dominic in 1496 by Bartholomew Columbus, Christopher Columbus’ brother, as the capital of the first government during the Spanish conquest that included other countries in Central America.
It is the oldest European settlement in America, and it was the first capital of the Spanish rule colony of Hispaniola. When it collapsed in a hurricane, it was rebuilt in its present location on the right bank of the river (1502). Many expeditions of conquest and conquest to the West Indies and America were initiated there.
Santo Domingo spent more than 30 years named Ciudad Trujillo, after the dictator Rafael Trujillo who ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930-1961.
Santo Domingo is the largest city in Dominican Republic and functions as: Houses all branches of government and home to many important institutions, such as the University of Santo Domingo and the Catholic Church’s Archdiocese of Santo Domingo.
The capital of the country is a major tourist destination and it is also a major port of call for cruise ships in the eastern part of the Caribbean region.
The Dominican Republic’s the site of the first university, cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress in the New World.
The Dominican Republic was a Spanish colony for over 400 years, and Santo Domingo was its capital during that time and the center of Spanish power in the New World.
The city was built on the site of an earlier native settlement, which in pre Columbian times the native Taíno people that inhabited the island of Hispaniola called Quisqueya.
During the colonial era, Santo Domingo was one of the most important cities in the Americas, with a large population and a thriving economy.
However, it was also frequently besieged by pirates and privateers, and it was destroyed by earthquakes and hurricanes on several occasions.
In 1697, the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo was invaded and occupied by the French.
The city was renamed “Saint Domingue”, and it became the capital of the new French colony and filled with African slaves in the south.
The Dominican Republic gained its independence from Spain in 1821, from Haiti in 1844 and fought back for its independence from Spain again in 1865, whilst Santo Domingo once again became the capital city and the capital of the new Dominican Republic.
Geography and climate of the Dominican capital
The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two thirds of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with its neighboring Haiti, who occupies the western third.
Santo Domingo is located on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic, on the Caribbean Sea, and it is surrounded by hills, fertile valleys, and the Ozama River the city has several parks and green spaces like the Mirador Sur and the National Botanical Garden.
Related – Where is the Dominican Republic located?
Just like most of the country, the capital has a tropical climate with warm weather year-round. The average temperature is 26 degrees Celsius (79 degrees Fahrenheit).
Its coordinates are 18.47°N 69.90°W / 18.47; -69.90 and has an average elevation of 20 feet (6 meters) above sea level.
As a country, the Dominican Republic is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the north.
Colonial Zone and its World Heritage Sites
Santo Domingo’s historical zone, which present location is at the center of the capital, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is part of the World Heritage list in the Western Hemisphere.
As one of the main tourist destination in the Dominican Republic, it has many of the city’s historic landmarks that contain mixed European architecture inherited by the Spanish crown and Italian influences like the colonial buildings:
- Fortaleza Ozama (a Spanish fort built in 1502);
- The Alcázar de Colón (the former residence of Columbus’ son, Diego Columbus);
- The Cathedral of Santa María la Menor (the oldest and first cathedral in the Americas), dating back to 1512;
- Monastery of San San Francisco)
- Dominicus Convent Church
- A number of museums, such as the Museum of Dominican Man;
- The Museum of Modern Art;
- The National History Museum;
- The Museum Duarte, which was the birthplace of the founding father Juan Pablo Duarte.
The Dominican Republic is inhabited mostly by people of mixed European and African origins. Western influence is seen in the colonial buildings of the capital, Santo Domingo, as well as in art and literature. African heritage is reflected in music
Santo Domingo has several beaches, including Playa Boca Chica and Playa Guibia.
These beaches are popular with both locals and tourists, and they offer a wide range of activities, such as swimming, sunbathing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.
A great variety of birds, including ducks, are hunted. Fish and shellfish inhabit the surrounding waters, particularly within the coral reefs.
The Dominican Republic has a thriving economy that is based on agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and mining, and Santo Domingo is one of the country’s main economic centers.
The city’s port has one of the busiest freight traffic in the Caribbean, and it is home to many banks, businesses, food processing companies, and important industries.
Santo Domingo is also the economic and cultural center of the Dominican Republic, with a GDP of US$103 billion and an urban area population of 2.7 million people, in a country in which the official language is Spanish, but English is also spoken by many people, specially at the tourist spots.
Just like on the rest of the country, the main currency is the Dominican peso although the United States dollars is widely used.
However, it has an extensive transportation network, which includes a busy airport, a metro system, and a network of buses, taxis, and cars. Cab rides like Uber are also available in the Dominican Republic.
The best way to get around is by car, as the city has a wide network of roads and highways.
Santo Domingo has probably the best cuisine in the region. Dominican food is a mix of Spanish, Taíno, and African origins.
Some popular dishes include sancocho (a stew made with chicken, beef, or fish), mangu (mashed plantains), and tostones (fried plantains).
Shopping and Nightlife
Santo Domingo has a wide range of shopping options, from luxury malls like Bella Vista Mall, Agora Mall, and Blue Mall to street markets that sell a variety of items, such as souvenirs, handicrafts, and food.
Santo Domingo has a lively nightlife scene, with a number of bars, clubs, restaurants, and live music venues, such as the Teatro Nacional, Casa de Teatro, and the popular Bonyé on Sundays.
Other important cities besides Santo Domingo
In the Dominican Republic, or República Dominicana in Spanish, there are other important economic cities like Santiago de los Caballeros, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, La Romana, Cabarete, Miches, and the Samaná Peninsula, all of them tourism spots.