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 2 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 this beautiful place.
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. You are more than welcome!
¡Bienvenidos a la República Dominicana!
Country & People
The country …
The subtropical climate averaging a temperature of 82°F (28°C) offers summer and sun all year round. No wonder that tourism is the major economic factor of the Dominican Republic. Mainly all-inclusive tourists spent their holidays in the country. In recent years although, due to the efforts of the Ministry of Tourism to support alternative and modern concepts of tourism, more and more individual travelers discover the country on their own.
The original inhabitants were the Taino Indians, a peaceful tribe of whose culture only few relicts are left. In 1492 Christopher Columbus discovered the island. It is here where he founded the first European settlement in the New World and from here where he 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: 1822 the occupation by Haiti, 1844 the proclamation of independence by Juan Pablo Duarte which gave birth to the modern Dominican Republic, and 1930 till 1961 the dictatorship of General Rafael Trujíllo.
Today the Dominican Republic is a democratically governed state in the form of a presidential democracy with 10.5 million inhabitants, 73% of them mixed, 16% white and 11% black.
… and its people
The hospitality of the Dominicans is proverbial. Close family ties and good neighborhood relations are very important. That 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 heavily gesticulating 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 then you should not miss to visit the peninsula of Samaná. Every year at that time hundreds of humpback whales gather in the Samaná Bay for breeding and giving birth. A very rarely and fascinating nature sensation.
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.
In no way you should miss the big Merengue and Bachata Festivals which take place every year in Santo Domingo and in Puerto Plata during summer and fall. In Santo Domingo, for days the capital goes nuts 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 soup featuring seven types of meat combined with different vegetables, yucca, and potatoes.
Dominicans love snacks. You will always find a little comedor close-by where tasteful dishes are appetizingly arranged in the showcase, or a mobile snack-bar that offers meat- and cheese-filled turnovers (empanadas, pastelito) or delicious freshly squeezed fruit juices.
Climate and best Travel Time
The average temperature is 82°F (28°C) which means that you will encounter ideal holiday conditions throughout the whole year. The country has different climatic and vegetation zones: a tropical, warm-humid climate at sea level, 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, 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. There, you can also pay with your credit card almost everywhere. 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 and +1 – 829.
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 International Airlines
Various scheduled and chartered flights go to the Dominican Republic like: American Airlines, Continental Airlines and JetBlue from the US; Air Canada, Sky Service, Air Transat from Canada; ThomsonFly from Great Britain; Condor and Eurowings from Germany; Jet Airways from Belgium; Iberia from Spain; Air France 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 places. Travelers should follow the common rules for being in a foreign country like: do not carry valuables or expensive jewelry, take just small amounts of cash with you, avoid lonely, dark streets and in bigger cities certain districts at night.
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.