The Dominican Republic is a nation in the Caribbean on the island of Hispaniola, bordering Haiti to the west. It’s capital is Santo Domingo, and it’s population is 10.5 million people.
The native Taíno people had inhabited Hispaniola before the arrival of Europeans, dividing it into five chiefdoms. The Taíno had constructed an advanced farming and hunting society, and were in the process of becoming an organized civilization. Christopher Columbus explored and claimed the island for Spain, landing there on his first voyage in 1492. Later, the Colony of Saint Dominic (Spanish: Colonia de Santo Domingo) was established, making Santo Domingo the oldest European-founded city in the Americas.
During the nineteenth century, Dominicans were often at war, fighting the French, Haitians, Spanish, or amongst themselves, resulting in a society heavily influenced by military strongmen, who ruled the country as if it were their personal kingdom. After more than three hundred years of Spanish rule, the Dominican people declared independence in November 1821. The leader of the independence movement, José Núñez de Cáceres, intended the Dominican nation to unite with the country of Gran Colombia, but the newly independent Dominicans were forced to unify with Haiti in 1822.
Independence came 22 years later in 1844, after victory in the Dominican War of Independence. Over the next 72 years, the Dominican Republic experienced mostly internal conflicts, several failed invasions by its neighbour, Haiti, and brief return to Spanish colonial status, before permanently ousting the Spanish during the Dominican War of Restoration of 1863–1865.
After a brief invasion by the United States, which was between 1916 and 1924 and a brief peace until 1930, the Trujillo dictatorship began. Although the six-year term was marked by impressive economic growth, atrocities such as the Parsley Massacre were committed by his government, and the nations citizens were repressed. From 1930 the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo ruled until 1961. A civil war in 1965, the country's last, was ended by U.S. military occupation and was followed by the authoritarian rule of Joaquín Balaguer (1966–1978). He would later attempt to run in 1986, 3 years after Doomsday
After Doomsday, the Dominican Republic was left to its own devices to survive in the post-nuclear war age. The presidency was held by the Dominican Revolutionary Party candidate Salvador Jorge Blanco, who quickly tried to organize a semblance of normalcy after these horrific events. Blanco changed the Dominican constitution, giving the incumbent president the right to run for a second term immediately after his first term.
In 1986, the last puppet president of the Trujillo age, Joaquín Balaguer ran for president once again, but lost in a close race to Blanco, as the people saw him as the man who did the most for the Republic after Doomsday. Though offered membership in the East Caribbean Federation in 1987, they turned it down, feeling they were self-sufficient enough to not join the multi-national union and remain independent.
Balaguer ran for president in 1990 but lost due to the charismatic candidate of the Dominican Liberation Party, Leonel Fernández. During his first term in office, Fernández's political agenda was one of economic and critical reform. He was tired of the ECF trying to influence the Republic, but unlike his predecessors opted to expand trade with them, seeing them as a way to boost the Dominican Republic's economy. The Dominican economy enjoyed an average growth rate of seven percent, the highest in Latin American in that period. Inflation was stabilized in the low single digits, the lowest in all of Latin America. He served a four-year term as President between 1996 and 2000.
Fernández also began a very personal and visionary plan to run the Dominican Republic. When developers proposed the country's first modern port during his first term, he said that "We can be the Singapore of the Caribbean". In Santo Domingo, he built highways and tunnels and favored foreign investment, but delayed fundamental social reforms, like education and public health. He made close ties with Cuba welcoming Cuban investment. Both countries saw each other as the only stronger countries who managed to escape joining the ECF in the Caribbean. In 1997, as the Socialist Siberia re-established contact with Cuba and Nicaragua, the president decided to welcome the delegates to the Republic. From then on, a strong bond developed between the two countries.
Intervention in Haiti
In 1999, the Dominican Republic decided to intervene in the civil war in neighboring Haiti, sending Emmanuel Constant into the country, who organized a personal death squad, trying to undermine the actions of other involved parties. This was done by In 2002, the Latin American countries, which would later form the SAC, and the ECF and Cuba, sent peacekeeping forces into Haiti. Constant and other exiled Haiti leaders escaped into the Dominican Republic, who continues to deny involvement in the civil war. This was a major embarrassment for the administration and a blow to the presidents rule.
The 2002 presidential elections, saw once more the strengthening of the Dominican Revolutionary Party, as Rafael Hipólito Mejía Domínguez was elected as president. His second term ended in 2010, when Miguel Octavio Vargas Maldonado was elected as president. This continuation of a socialist government is the reason why the ties between the USSR and the Dominican Republic continue to stay strong.
Dominican Republic has close relations with Puerto Rico, since contact between them was re-established in 1984. Both governments continue to provide aid to Spanish-speaking countries, particularly the closest ally of the Dominican Republic in Central America, Mexico, to whom it continues to send aid and military personnel. The Dominican Republic is also a member of the League of Nations and has close relations with the USSR and Cuba, who sends military aide to the nation and are major trading partner of the republic. The country is also a member of the CSTO and its president has stated that it will work closely with the organization.
Haiti remains suspicious of the Dominican Republic due to their involvement in their civil war and relations are still tense.
Congress authorizes a combined military force of 44,000 active duty personnel. Actual active duty strength is approximately 32,000. However, approximately 50% of those are used for non-military activities such as security providers for government-owned non-military facilities, highway toll stations, prisons, forestry work, state enterprises, and private businesses. The Commander in Chief of the military is the President. The principal missions are to defend the nation and protect the territorial integrity of the country. The army, larger than the other services combined with approximately 20,000 active duty personnel, consists of six infantry brigades, a combat support brigade, and a combat service support brigade. The air force operates two main bases, one in the southern region near Santo Domingo and one in the northern region near Puerto Plata. The navy operates two major naval bases, one in Santo Domingo and one in Las Calderas on the southwestern coast, and maintains 12 operational vessels. In the Caribbean, only Cuba has a larger military force. The armed forces have organized a Specialized Airport Security Corps (CESA) and a Specialized Port Security Corps (CESEP) to meet international security needs in these areas. The Secretary of the Armed Forces has also announced plans to form a specialized border corps (CESEF). Additionally, the armed forces provide 75% of personnel to the National Investigations Directorate (DNI) and the Counter-Drug Directorate (DNCD). The Dominican National Police force contains 32,000 agents. The police are not part of the Dominican armed forces, but share some overlapping security functions. Sixty-three percent of the force serve in areas outside traditional police functions, similar to the situation of their military counterparts.
Baseball is the most popular sport in this country, and many experts believe it to produce the best players. The Dominican does have an onseason domestic league, but its best players compete in the Mexican major and minor leagues. In the off-season, from October to January, the best players in the region come to the Dominican and compete in the Dominican Winter League.
The national team competes with Cuba for the title of the world's best side.
Basketball is another popular sport in the country. A semi-professional league has of late produced players who have signed contracts with Brazilian and UAR professional clubs, most notably Felipe Lopez and Al Horford.
Other popular sports are boxing and volleyball. Association football is a popular spectator sport, but the country has not done well on the international scene nor produced notable players in recent years. The Dominican Republic is a member of FIFA.
Most television stations in the Dominican Republic are government-owned and -operated. Radio stations, however, are less one-sided, with private and government owned stations operating successfully side by side.