The Rich History of Dominican Republic

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The Dominican Republic was the first permanent European settlement in the “New World”. Christopher Columbus settled the new land on his journey in 1492. In 1821, the Dominican Republic gained their independence from Spain. After the Dominican War of Independence, the country was occupied by the United States for eight years. Rafael Leónidas Trujilo Molina was a dictator that ruled the Dominican Republic from 1930 until 1961. After the Dominican Republic’s civil war in 1965, Joaquín Balaguer took control of the country. The current president of the Dominican Republic is Danilo Medina.

The Caamaño revolt was what kicked off the Domincan Civil War. The purpose of this revolt was to allow Juan Bosch to become president of the country again, which would make the Dominican Republic a constitutional democracy. As a result of the revolt, U.S. troops were sent to the Dominican Republic to help restore the peace and tranquility of the nation. The troops from the United States were pulled out of the Dominican Republic in September of 1966. Even after all of this, Bosch did not return to presidency, instead Hector Garcia-Godoy took control. Garcia-Godoy played a pivotal role in bringing democracy back to the country and organizing the elections in 1966.

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The Dominican Republic uses the Dominican Peso as their currency. One United States dollar is worth approximately 52 Dominican Pesos. The top exports of the country include gold, rolled tobacco, knit t-shirts, and Medical Instruments. The kind of medical instruments that the Dominican Republic exports include disposable supplies for surgeries, orthopedic devices, and just general furniture for hospitals. The export of gold brings in the most money for the country, coming in at around 1.5 billion dollars. The United States is the primary export location for the Dominican Republic, bringing in an average of 3.64 billion dollars. Tourism plays an important role in the country’s economy as well. The Dominican Republic is the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean, with more than six million tourists visiting the Dominican Republic each year. Tourists are attracted to the beaches, mountainous landscape, and tropical climate of the country. The Dominican Republic is home to the Caribbean’s tallest mountain, Pico Duarte, and also to the largest lake, Lake Enriquillo.

The Dominican Republic is known for producing some of the best baseball players to every grace the diamond. One of my favorite players of all-time, Albert Pujols, was born in the Dominican Republic. Pujols was drafted in 2001 by the St. Louis Cardinals and won two world series. He went into free agency in 2011 however and signed a ten-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Another MLB superstar, Juan Soto, was raised in the Dominican Republic, Juan Soto. Juan Soto signed to the Washington Nationals as a free agent in 2015 and made his debut in the big leagues in 2018. Soto plays outfield and was a major factor in the Nationals’ World Series championship this year. Soto hit three home runs in the world series alone, along with a 0.333 batting average. He is the youngest player in the MLB at just 21 years old. More MLB superstars from the Dominican Republic include David Ortiz (aka Big Papi), Johnny Cueto, Robinson Cano, and Bartólo Colón.

Amelia Vega is a model from the Dominican Republic. She is married to professional basketball player, Al Horford (who was also born in the Dominican Republic). She was crowned Miss Universe in 2003. She is a cover girl for CoverGirl magazine. Vega does more than just model however; she is also an actress. She was in two movies The Lost City and Homie Spumoni. Her husband, Al Horford, is a Power Forward/Center for the Philadelphia 76ers, but previously played for the Boston Celtics. Horford’s father was the first NBA player from the Dominican Republic.

Music is a major component of the Dominican Republic’s culture. The national music and dances of the country are the Merengue and Bachata. Merengue music has a clear beat and constant rhythm, and the dance emphasizes step patterns. Popular Merengue style songs are “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)” which are both preformed by the popular singer, Shakira. The original Merengue was a circle dance, not danced by individual couples. The main instrument used in Bachata music is the guitar. The first Bachata song was recorded in 1962 by a man named José Manuel Calderón; the title of the song is “Borracho de Amor”. The original Bachata dance was relatively slower, and was only danced closed, but as time went on, the dance gradually gained speed. The new Bachata is danced all over the Caribbean, with more footwork, rhythmic freestyle moves, and alternating between a closed (slow dance style) position and open position. Popular DJ, DJ Khaled, released a Bachata style song in 2019 called “Culpables”.

In conclusion, the Dominican Republic has a rich history, provides important exports to other countries (especially the United States), and a lot of culture behind it. Thanks to the Dominican Republic, the United States gets gold that can be used to make jewelry, medical instruments that are necessary to maintain the health of citizens, and rolled tobacco. The national sport of the Dominican Republic is baseball. Some of the biggest names in the sport were born and raised in the Dominican Republic, such as Albert Pujols, Juan Soto, and Johnny Cueto. Music has an important role in the culture of the Dominican Republic, with the national songs and dances being the Merengue and Bachata.

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