Dominican Republic history
Around 700 AD Aruak tribes from Venezuela migrated
via the Lesser Antilles to what is now the Dominican
Republic. They were the culmination of cultural
development before the appearance of European seafarers.
In 1492, Christopher Columbus arrived on the mountainous
island and called it La Española, Hispaniola in Latin.
In 1496 he returned on his second trip to the West
Indies with Spanish settlers and founded what was later
to become Santo Domingo, which quickly became the center
for the administration of the new Spanish properties.
The enslavement of the Aruak Indians and introduced
epidemics decimated the indigenous population, and the
colonialists introduced black African slaves as workers
for the sugar cane plantations. As a result, at the
beginning of the 16th
Early modern period and 19th century
In the mid-17th century, so-called Buccaneers, French
privateers, gradually conquered the western part of the
Hispaniola island. In the peace of Rijswijk in 1697,
Spain had to cede this part of the island to France.
Because of its sugar cane, cocoa, coffee and tobacco
plantations, the colony continued to be a lucrative
source of income for the colonial masters. According to AbbreviationFinder, Almost a
hundred years later, in 1795, Spain had to hand over the
western part of the island to France in the peace of
However, a few years earlier, blacks and mulattoes
had started in the western part of the island and later
also in the eastern part of the island as a reason to
rebel against the large white landowners. Under the
black former slave Toussaint Louverture, the insurgents
succeeded in uniting the two parts of the island at the
end of the 18th century and defending them against
attacking Napoleonic troops in the early 19th century.
In 1804, Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Hispaniola as
"Haiti" for independence and rose himself to be emperor.
However, he was murdered two years later; The
Spanish-born residents of the eastern part, with British
help, succeeded in founding a mulatto republic, which
was again subordinate to the Spanish crown.
But this phase was short. In 1821 the Dominican
population rose against Spain, Haiti then occupied the
western part and briefly united the island again. They
were expelled in 1844. The independent "Dominican
Republic" was proclaimed and came under Spanish rule
again for twenty years. Another uprising leads to final
independence in 1865.
The 20th century
After the US Senate rejected the application for the
Republic to join the United States in 1870, bloody
clashes began for decades, which were only brought to an
end by military intervention by the United States in the
early 20th century. In 1905 the United States took over
customs sovereignty, in 1907 financial sovereignty, and
in 1916 they paid off and occupied the accumulated debts
of the impoverished country. The occupation ended in
1924 and the Dominican Republic adopted a liberal
constitution, which ended with a coup by the army
commander in chief, RL Trujillo y Molina. Until 1962, he
exploited the country together with his family. It was
only a year after his murder that his sons agreed to
renewed liberalization and free elections, which the
left-wing exile politician Juan Bosch won with a
In 1966, the moderately conservative politician J.
Balaguer took over as the newly elected president.
Unintentionally supported by the boycott of the
parliamentary and presidential elections by the
strongest opposition party, the Partido Revolucionario
Dominicana (PRD) of the former President Bosch, Balaguer
also won the 1970 and 1974 elections. His style of
government was authoritarian without tackling any
necessary social and political reforms. In 1978 he lost
and the newly elected Social Democratic President AS
Guzm¨¢n Fern¨¢ndez came to power. But he also failed to
push through major social and economic changes.
Fern¨¢ndez committed suicide in 1992 and was succeeded by
Jorge Blanco as a PRD candidate. In 1986 Balaguer came
to power again and headed the country until 1996 as
president. In June he was replaced by Leonel Fern¨¢ndez
Reyna from the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). Already
in the early 1990s, the domestic political situation in
the country was again characterized by riots and unrest.
Nevertheless, the number of holidaymakers increased
steadily during this period and became the most
important source of foreign exchange alongside the
export of food.
Parliamentary elections were held in 1998 and the PRD
won the majority of votes in both the Chamber of
Deputies and the Senate, while the incumbent president's
party went into opposition. In 2000, the entrepreneur
Hip¨®lito Mej¨ªa was elected head of state by the PRD. He
was replaced by Leonel Fern¨¢ndez Reyna four years later
due to the current banking and economic crisis. Thanks
to its consolidation policy in cooperation with the IMF,
the latter was able to overcome the crisis and was
confirmed in office in 2008. The PLD has continued to
represent the government with President Danilo Medina
S¨¢nchez since August 2012.