The eastern part of the island of Hispaniola, which today constitutes the Dominican Republic, has probably been populated since around the year 5,000 before our time.
As in the other major islands of the Caribbean, the siboney people probably immigrated from South America and lived by hunting and retreat. Agriculture was later run by the Taino people and was further developed by the Arab guards. These populations had divided the island into chief judges and made up about 100,000 inhabitants when the Spaniards arrived on the island in 1496. The same year, the city of Santo Domingo was founded.
The entire island of Hispaniola was Spanish possession until 1697, when France acquired the western part of Haiti. The eastern part was then named Santo Domingo. In the late 1700s, France gained dominion over the entire island, but bloody slave rebellion in 1791 led to Haiti becoming independent in 1804. Spain regained control of Santo Domingo until 1821, after which the island was ruled entirely from Haiti before Santo Domingo became its own. Republic of 1844. Unlike all other former Spanish colonies in America, the Dominican Republic celebrates its Independence Day as a mark of the detachment from neighboring Haiti, and not the one they achieved from former colonial power Spain. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Dominican Republic.
However, political stability did not reach the country in the 19th century.
Because of its sugar plantations, Santo Domingo was of considerable economic interest to the United States. During the First World War, the United States felt its interests threatened by both internal turmoil and significant German influence in Haiti. The United States intervened in 1916 and secured full control of the country until 1924.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Provides latest population data about Dominican Republic. Lists by Year from 1950 to 2020. Also includes major cities by population.
A National Guard was equipped to maintain military control as the United States withdrew. One of the officers, Lieutenant Rafael Trujillo, took power in 1930 by electoral fraud, and for 31 years the Dominicans were to live under his ruthless dictatorship. All opposition was banned and foreign investment was to provide economic growth. Liquidations were common during this period, not only by Dominicans, but in 1937 his methods also affected about 20,000 Haitians.
Trujillo’s family gained much of the country’s production life, and family members were given the most influential positions, including his brother Héctor president from 1952–60. Trujillo regarded himself as Latin America’s greatest anti-Communist, securing him the desirable support of the United States. But his greedy desire for economic power also came at the expense of American real estate, and the United States punished this with a halt to sugar imports.
By the time the US broke with Cuba in 1961, patience with Trujillo had obviously come to a break. In May 1961 he was murdered and the family had to leave the country a few months later.
After Trujillo’s death, the United States feared an upheaval of Cuban patterns in the power vacuum that ensued. The United States therefore pushed for a democratization. Juan Bosch returned after 25 years of exile and won the December 1962 election with his newly created Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD). Bosch had done little more than introduce a democratic constitution before he was deposed by a military coup in 1963. But the few months of democracy that the Dominicans had experienced for the first time in history were not so easily forgotten.
On April 24, 1965, a fraction of the army initiated a rebellion that quickly gained wide support with demands for the reintroduction of the Constitution and the restoration of power to Bosch. This ‘constitutional revolution’ caused a stir in the United States, and when Dominican General Elías Wessin y Wessin failed to gain control of the situation, President Lyndon B. Johnson was asked to intervene.
With the Organization of American States (OAS), the United States sent 23,000 soldiers to the island to put an end to the unrest. It took the Americans several months to gain control of the situation, and the campaign raised serious doubts about the US’s assessment of military interference in other countries. Military control of the Dominican Republic was partly left to forces by other OAS member states in September 1965.
Under American supervision, elections were prepared in 1966. The right-wing candidate was Trujillo’s last facade president, Joaquín Balaguer, who was also supported by the Americans. The election of Balaguer as president led to the withdrawal of foreign forces. Bosch was subjected to persecution and cases of murder of party traps in the election campaign. Balaguer remained in power until 1978, and during this period the country experienced a certain economic upswing. American companies gained more influence, and foreign workers from Haiti were roughly exploited as cheap labor on sugar plantations.
Under Balaguer most of the country’s radical opposition was also liquidated. In the 1978 election, Balaguer got a counter candidate from the PRD, the rich cattle farmer Antonio Guzmán. Bosch had left the PRD because he claimed it had become too moderate and created his radical party PLD. As the voting count went on and Guzmán was leading the army, the army entered and stopped the count. Balaguer received a sharp warning, including from President Jimmy Carter, and when the counting resumed, Guzmán won. The new president immediately replaced the entire military top layer and later nationalized some US companies.
Within PRD, the difference between three wings became increasingly clear. Guzmán represented the most moderate and Jorge Blanco a more radical wing, although both had good relations with European social democrats. Santo Domingo’s mayor, José Francisco Peña Gómez, represented the socialist wing of the party, inspired by Cuba and Nicaragua.
Blanco won the 1982 election narrowly ahead of Balaguer. The new government was constantly challenged by the left and the trade union movement, especially due to the harsh conditions imposed by the IMF’s International Monetary Fund to repay foreign debt. In 1983 and 1984, the economic crisis and rising food prices triggered spontaneous uprisings in the capital. The US responded by coming to the rescue with a crisis of fear that the riots would develop into a serious political crisis.
Blanco’s reign was a difficult balance between satisfying the IMF and the dissatisfied population. In April 1985, a temporary solution was reached with the IMF. The PRD was significantly divided ahead of the 1986 election following the corruption allegations against Jorge Blanco. Veteran Joaquín Balaguer managed for the fifth time to be elected president, this time as a candidate for his newly formed Christian Democratic Party PRSC. During this period, Balaguer promoted a new policy to support landless peasants.
The 1990 election was another veteran settlement between 84-year-old Balaguer and 82-year-old Juan Bosch, a settlement that Balaguer once again won. When Balaguer triumphed again in 1994, protests were made with allegations of electoral fraud by José Francisco Peña Gómez of the PRD, who suffered a very scarce defeat. The compromise solution was that it was decided to hold a new presidential election in the summer of 1996, this time without any of the candidates in Dominican politics as candidates.
The election was won by Leonel Fernández Reyna of the Dominican Freedom Party (Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, PLD). His government introduced economic reforms and the country’s economy entered a good, but short-lived, period with an annual growth rate of 7 percent.
The 2000 election brought the PRD back to power, with Rafael Hipólito Mejía as president. A few years later, there was again a galloping inflation and rising unemployment; a banking scandal caused the problems to accelerate. Both these conditions and the frequent failure of the power supply were the subject of vigorous demonstrations, with several lives lost in clashes with police forces. It was said to be the dream of the near past that led Fernández back into the presidential seat in the 2004 election.
Fernandez’s program entailed cuts of up to 20 percent in public spending to get the economy back on track and restore confidence among foreign investors. Fernández was re-elected in 2008. The country had then signed a free trade agreement with the United States and the Central American states, as a key strategy to strengthen the economy.
The Dominican Republic is still among the poorest countries in the Caribbean, with a growing gap between poor and rich. Natural disasters also aggravate the problems in the economy. Hurricane George caused damage to more than NOK 10 billion in 1998, and over 2,000 lives were lost in a flood in 2004. However, the country has become one of the Caribbean’s most popular tourist destinations, and tourism is a key area of government after sugar exports and other agricultural production lost. much of its importance.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti share a limited area, and the struggle for the conservation and utilization of natural resources has been central in recent times. Both countries are very vulnerable to natural disasters and the risk is increasing. The two are in eighth and third place respectively on the Global Climate Risk Index’s list of the most vulnerable countries due to climate change on earth.
Since both countries, according to CEPAL, also have projected population growth that will be stable until 2050, before it is assumed to flatten out and then decline, population density in both the Dominican Republic and neighboring countries will increase significantly over the next 35 years. By the same source’s calculations, by 2060 there will be about thirty countries on Earth with a higher population density than the island overall, compared to around 50 today.
Therefore, there is reason to believe that the struggle for – and the distribution of – resources and land will be important issues in the future.
Throughout the 2000s, various forms of environmental engagement have emerged. Among other things, there was a wide popular mobilization in the fight against a cement factory in northeast Los Haitises, and a great commitment to put down mining operations in Cotuí. Most recently in 2014, there was a multifaceted association of organizations and social classes that fought to preserve the Loma Miranda mountain range and turned it into a national park. Here, the environmental struggle was tainted with a conflict of interest between the nation-state and the international company holding the mining license.