Discover the Dominican Republic
For many people, the Dominican Republic symbolizes the perfect exotic Caribbean vacation destination, a paradise of sun, sand, and sea all year round.
For Christopher Columbus, it was the most beautiful place he had ever seen, deserving of the name La Española, while the original inhabitants honored it with the name Quisqueya, fertile Mother Earth.
The modern name of the island is Hispaniola. It is home to two countries that could not be more distinct: Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic, which covers two thirds of the island to the east, offers a variety of natural treasures that are unique in the Caribbean: lush, subtropical vegetation, fertile valleys, mountain ranges up to 10,400 feet (3175 meters) high, and hundreds of kilometers of its famous palm-lined white sand beaches and shimmering turquoise sea.
Its nature, as well as its moving history, the vivid everyday culture, and its people, make it worth visiting.
All this turns the Dominican Republic into a wonderful place to learn Spanish. Discover the exotic-Caribbean flair, the easy-going vitality, openness and hospitality of its people. We would be happy to welcome you!
¡Bienvenidos a la República Dominicana!
Director International Relations
Country, Culture, and People
The Country …
The subtropical climate averaging a temperature of 82°F (28°C) offers summer and sun all year round. It’s no wonder that tourism is the major economic factor of the Dominican Republic. Mainly all-inclusive tourists spent their vacations and holidays in the country. However, in recent years, due to the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism to support alternative and modern concepts of tourism, more and more individual travelers are discovering the country on their own.
The original inhabitants were the Taino Indians, a peaceful tribe of whose culture only few relicts remain. In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the island. It is here where he founded the first European settlement in the New World and started the colonization of America. The country’s capital, Santo Domingo, dazzles visitors with plenty of colonial architecture: the oldest cathedral, the oldest university, and the oldest court in the New World.
Other important dates of the country’s history are: the occupation by Haiti in 1822, the proclamation of independence by Juan Pablo Duarte in 1844 which gave birth to the modern Dominican Republic, and the dictatorship of General Rafael Trujíllo from 1930 through 1960.
Today, the Dominican Republic is a democratically governed state in the form of a presidential democracy with 10.5 million inhabitants, 11% black, 16% white, and 73% mixed.
… and its People
The hospitality of the Dominicans is proverbial. Close family ties and good neighborhood relations are very important. This is why Dominicans always seem to be on the road: you will meet them in the street chatting with the neighbor, enjoying a cafecito in the small colmado next door, laughing with their families and friends in the back of their trucks when going to the beach on Sundays, or gesturing heavily while playing Domino in the little village pub.
Carnival is very popular in the country and celebrated in February. The more famous one is the carnival of La Vega with its magnificent masks, colorful costumes, and parades every Sunday in February.
If you travel to the country between January and March, you should not miss visiting the peninsula of Samaná. Every year at that time hundreds of humpback whales gather in the Samaná Bay for breeding and birthing, a very rare and fascinating nature spectacle.
Merengue & Bachata & Car Wash
Dominicans love music. The most typical place they like to meet for dancing is the car wash, a mixture of a real car wash and a bar. Famous Bachata and Merengue singers like Anthony Santos, Frank Reyes or Juan Luis Guerra come here to play live concerts.
You absolutely cannot miss the big Merengue and Bachata Festivals that take place every year in Santo Domingo and in Puerto Plata during summer and fall. In Santo Domingo, the capital goes nuts for days during that festival. Thousands of people flock to the sea promenade called the Malecón to dance, sing, and party at one of the numerous live concerts.
Baseball or “Beisbol”, as the Dominicans say, is the national sport. There is no Dominican boy who does not dream about being the next Sammy Sosa or Pedro Martinez, the Dominican heroes of the US American Baseball League.
The Dominican cuisine is dominated by Creole, Spanish, and African influences. Typical dishes are La Bandera, consisting of white rice, red beans, and roasted or fried chicken, as well as Sancocho, a stew featuring seven types of meat combined with a variety of vegetables, including corn, squash, yucca and potatoes.
Dominicans love snacks. You will always find a little comedor close-by where tasteful dishes are appetizingly arranged in the front, or a mobile snack-bar that offers meat- and cheese-filled turnovers (empanadas or pastelito) and delicious freshly-squeezed fruit juices.
Climate and Best Time to Travel
The average temperature is 82°F (28°C) which means that you will encounter ideal vacation conditions throughout the entire year. The country has different climatic and vegetation zones: a tropical, warm-humid climate at sea level, and a moderate climate in the mountains. The rainy season in the north is from November through January, in the south, from July through September. Short, heavy rainfalls are possible all year round, with tropical storms occasionally in August and September.
The official currency of the country is the Dominican Peso (RD$). US Dollars and Euros are only accepted in tourist areas and bigger cities. You can also pay with your credit card in those areas, as well. Banks and exchange offices change cash and traveler’s checks. Re-exchange is only possible at a loss. Cash machines accept ATM- and ec/maestro-cards.
The voltage is 110-120 V/60Hz, the same electrical system as in the USA and Canada. Flat-pronged plugs are common practice; you need an adapter to run electrical appliances brought from Europe. Frequent power failures are unfortunately part of the daily agenda but usually there is a private emergency power supply.
Internet and Telephone
Internet cafés and telephone centers are found in all towns and cities. If you bring a triband/quad mobile phone, you can buy a local card and use it in your phone. The international area codes are: +1-809, +1-829, and +1-849.
The Dominican Republic is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and on USA East Coast Time respectively. The country does not adjust to daylight saving time.
The country runs a very good and low-priced public transportation network. Coach transportation lines cover the long routes between major cities while gua-guas (mini-buses) and carro públicos (public taxis) go along the main roads into the city neighborhoods and from town to town. Motoconchos are motorbike-taxis; they are mainly used on short distances between villages and in town. Domestic air travel service is provided to major tourist destinations.
Airports and Airlines
Various scheduled and chartered flights to the Dominican Republic include: American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Spirit and JetBlue from the US; Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat from Canada; ThomsonFly from Great Britain; Condor and Eurowings from Germany; TUIfly from Belgium; Iberia from Spain; Air France and Air Caraibes from France, Aeroflot from Russia and many more.
The major ports of entry are: Santo Domingo (SDQ), Puerto Plata (POP), Punta Cana (PUJ), Santiago de los Caballeros (STI), and La Romana (LRM).
In general, foreigners travelling to the Dominican Republic need a valid passport or equivalent national identity document. All non-resident travelers need to show a round trip ticket as proof of their departure. Citizens of the US, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain and several others do not need a visa. You are allowed to enter the country after purchasing a tourist card for USD 10.- The tourist card allows you to stay for 30 days. A scaled charge applies for longer stays.
Please contact the local embassy in charge or your state department for more detailed information. Usually, there is also an airport tax of USD 20.- to be paid when departing.
Compared to other Caribbean countries, the Dominican Republic is still one of the safest destinations. Travelers should follow the common rules for being in a foreign country like not carrying valuables or expensive jewelry, taking just small amounts of cash with you, avoiding secluded, dark streets, avoiding certain districts at night in bigger cities.
No particular immunization is required by law for traveling to the Dominican Republic. You may decide to get vaccinations – please contact your doctor for more detailed information.
We recommend that you purchase travel cancellation insurance, baggage insurance and travel health insurance.
Beach or City?
What’s your favorite place in the Dominican Republic?
We love both. IIC runs two schools in two very distinct locations:
Santo Domingo, the 3-million inhabitants city on the southside of the island, capital of the Dominican Republic, rich of colonial history and culture OR
Sosua, the beach town on the north coast between surfer’s paradise Cabarete and the Victorian-style built city of Puerto Plata, THE place to be for nature and watersports fans.
Take a look yourself:
“Santo Domingo” – Song by Manny Cruz, a declaration of love to the city of Santo Domingo
Smiles of the North Coast – Sosua, Cabarete, Miches, Puerto Plata