Capital | Santo Domingo
Population | 9,794,487 (July 2010 est.)
Area | 48,730 SQ KM
Official Language | Spanish
Holidays | Independence Day, 27 February (1844 – from Haiti)
Currency | Dominican pesos (DOP)
Time Zone | UTC -4
Best Time to Visit | December to April
Connecting with the Culture | Discovering the New World in Santo Domingo’s Zona Colonial. Whale-watching on the Peninsula de Samana. Spending the day at Caberete, DR’s hippist beach town. Hiking, rafting and bird-watching in the interior’s mountainous national park. Enjoying a party DR style, drinking rum or Presidente beer and dancing salsa and merengue above all else.
Read | In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. A tale of the 1960’s political martyrs, the Mirabal sisters.
Listen | 1960’s and 70’s tunes by merengue legend Jonny Ventura.
Watch | 1492: The Conquest of Paradise
Eat | sancocho de siete carnes, hearty soup with manioc, plantain and seven types of meat.
Drink | rum or Presidente, the country’s beloved beer
In a Word | Que chulo! (great)
Characteristics | palm-lined beaches, merengue, rum, cigars
Surprises | Dominicans are very polite and tend to dress quite formally; In the Dominican Republic, maintaining close family ties and cultivating friendships are top priorities and music is part of everyday life.