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Dominican Republic

country agricultural economy major

Dominican Republic, country in the Caribbean Sea, occupying the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola. (The western third is Haiti.)

Land and climate. Parallel mountain chains cross the country from northwest to southeast. Between them are the Cibao and Vega Real lowlands, the country's main agricultural areas. The climate is subtropical, with lowland temperatures averaging 70°F (21°C). Annual rainfall averages over 50 in (127 cm), with hurricanes common between Aug. and Nov. Apart from the capital, Santo Domingo, the greatest concentration of people is in and around the rich agricultural valleys. Other major cities include Santiagi and Puerto Plata.

People. The official language of the country is Spanish, and most of the population professes the state-supported religion, Roman Catholicism.

Economy. The economy of the Dominican Republic is agricultural, with sugar the major export. Tourism is also a major source of foreign currency. In addition, the country produces coffee, cocoa, tobacco, and bananas. Industry is concentrated around the capital and, apart from agricultural processing, includes cement, plastic, and textile manufacturing. There is some mining of bauxite and nickel, and tourism is also important.

History. After centuries of turmoil, including conflict between the local population and Spain and Haiti, the independent Dominican Republic emerged in 1844. The new country was long troubled by political strife and economic instability. From 1916 to 1924, it was occupied by U.S. Marines. In 1930, an army revolt brought the dictator General Rafael Trujillo Molina to power. Free elections follwed Trujillo's assassination in 1961, but the newly elected left-wing government of Juan Bosch was overthrown by a military coup in 1963. An attempt to reinstate Bosch led to armed intervention by the U.S. in 1965. Joaquin Balaguer served as president from 1966 to 1978; he and his successors focused on improving the economy.

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