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The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic shares with Haiti the island of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba. Once the adopted land of the Tainos (Arawaks) and the Caribs, this island was "discovered" by Christopher Columbus and became home to the first European colony in the New World in 1492.
Known above all for the splendour of its white-sand beaches, the Dominican Republic is a country of tremendous diversity. The geography is a fascinating kaleidoscope, from the tropical rainforest to the desert-like expanses of the Southwest, from farming fields as far as the eye can see to the highest summit of the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, from the endless fields of sugar cane to verdant banana groves. The variety and spectacular beauty of its countryside is certainly one of its greatest riches.
But it is not the only one, for people also visit the Dominican Republic for the many remnants of its colonial past, of which the old area of Santo Domingo is one of the most shining examples, for its friendly hospitality and for the dynamic Caribbean culture and people.
With an area of 48,442 square kilometres, the Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two thirds of the island of Hispaniola. When crossing the country, it is hard not to be seduced by the astonishing diversity of the countryside.
Five mountainous massifs rise from the Dominican territory. The most impressive is the Cordillera Centrale at the heart of which stands Pico Duarte, which with an altitude of 3,175 metres is the highest summit in the Caribbean. Southwest of and extending from this range are two small mountain chains, called "Neiba" and "Baoruco". To the north, the whole Atlantic coast is isolated from the rest of the country by the Cordillera Septentrionale, which runs from Monte Cristi to San Francisco de Macoris. Finally, spanning the Samaná peninsula on the eastern part of the island, is the Cordillera de Samaná.
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