"The Dominican Republic is a country rich in history and culture since well before it's discovery by Christopher Columbus."
The recorded history of Hispaniola, where the Dominican Republic is located, began over 5,000 years before the famous Christopher Columbus stepped onto the shores of what has been referred to as the most beautiful island in the Caribbean. Inhabited originally by the Taino Indians, apparent immigrants from what is now Mexico (Yucatan) and South America (Amazonia). These were a very prosperous, gentle people who had a strong agricultural economy and numbered approximately 200,000 at their peak.
Christopher Columbus, an Italian and arguably the island's most famous inhabitant, landed under the Spanish flag in 1492 and claimed the entire island for Spain. Although this was his third major island, having landed in the Bahamas and Cuba first, this was the land that captured his imagination for its beauty and wealth. The beauty of the island was evident with the gently washed white sand beaches combined with towering inland mountains. The wealth was discovered as gold lying in the rivers and streambeds and worn as jewelry by the Taino leaders.
Columbus decided to return to Spain but his flagship, the Santa Maria, ran aground and sank after the entire crew fell asleep following a lengthy feast. Columbus left less than 50 of his crew on the island while he returned to Spain with the Nina and Pinta. Unfortunately the crew left behind abused the local Taino bringing about the wrath of the Indians and the demise of the Spaniards.
When Columbus returned the following year he landed close to the city of Puerto Plata. He was dismayed to find his crew had been killed and, not knowing why, assumed the Taino were at fault. The purpose of this visit to the island was to enslave the inhabitants forcing them to mine the plentiful island gold.
Between 1492 when Columbus first landed and 1495 the Spanish invaders totally crushed the Taino Indians, enslaving them to work in the gold mines. Spain attempted several times to establish colonies on the north coast but ultimately only succeeded with the first permanent European colony in what is now Santo Domingo to the south. Spain continued for many years to use Hispaniola as the jumping off point for its conquest of most of the Western Hemisphere.
From 1795 through 1844 the entire island of Hispaniola was under the rule of Haiti, originally a French colony which was backed by Napoleon's famous army. In 1844 the Dominican Republic became a sovereign country when it ejected the French rule from Haiti through revolution. The Dominican Republic modeled its original constitution after the United States.
Unfortunately the Dominican Republic was in a constant state of turmoil, including an invasion by the United States Marines in 1916. In 1930 Rafael Trujillo took power as dictator and ran the country with an iron fist. Although he was responsible for much of the early economic growth of the country his persecution of anyone who disagreed with him made him hugely unpopular; he was assassinated in 1961 in Santo Domingo.
Today the Dominican Republic enjoys a peaceful representative democracy not unlike the United States. The country has a multi-party political system with national elections every four years. By and large, the Dominican Republic is friendly with all nations in the Western Hemisphere, is particularly close to the United States, and has strong beneficial ties to leading nations in Europe.