The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Republic of Haiti. The country is the second-largest island in the Caribbean, with a surface area of 48,198 square kilometers. Located in the heart of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and to the south by the Caribbean Sea.
The population of the Dominican Republic is more than 8.5 million people.
- Time Zone
Local time is Caribbean Eastern Time (GMT – 0400). In the winter it is an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States. The Dominican Republic does not practice daylight savings time, as is customarily done in the United States.
- Capital City
The capital of the Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo, which is the oldest city in the new world. It has a population of almost 2.5 million people.
The Dominican Republic’s political structure is based on democratic principles. Every four years the country elects its president, vice president and legislators.
Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic. However, you’ll be surprised how many hotel and tourist destination employees speak English, French, German and Italian. If you decide to venture outside of the tourist areas, it is helpful to learn some basic phrases in Spanish.
The Dominican Peso (RD$) is the official currency of the Dominican Republic. You can find out the exchange rate here. Major credit cards and travelers’ checks are accepted at many of the country’s tourist locations; ATMs are located in almost all of the Dominican Republic’s cities, as well as at most resorts.
The Dominican Republic enjoys a tropical climate year-round. Depending on your location, a typical day could have full sun or a combination of sun and clouds. Its average annual temperatures ranges from 66° to 93° F (19° to 34° C). The coldest season is between November and April, and the hottest season is between May and October.
The Dominican Republic has an excellent reputation for its varied and flavorful food. There are luxurious restaurants with gourmet menus as well as more casual ones with Creole food, a very local style. You will also find Oriental, Mexican, Mediterranean, Italian restaurants, as well as those with light or vegetarian food, pizzerias, and fast food.
- 2014 Holidays (Non Business Days):
- January 1: New Year’s Celebration - January 6: The Three Kings’ Day (moved to Monday January 09th) - January 21: Our Lady of Altagracia’s Day - January 26: Juan Pablo Duarte’s Day (moved to January 30th) - February 27: Independence Day - April 6: Good Friday – Religious Celebration - May 1: Labor Day (Moved to April 30th) - June 7: Corpus Christi Day - August 16: Restoration of Independence Day - September 24: Las Mercedes Day - November 6: Constitution Day (moved to November 5th) - December 25: Christmas Day
In the Dominican Republic, electric plugs are 110 volts, like those in the United States and Canada. Because of this, Europeans and visitors from some countries in South America will have to bring a power adapter.
- Passport, Tourist Card and Visa
Citizens and residents of the United States, Canada and the majority of European countries can enter the country with a 30 day tourist card, which can be bought when you enter the country for US $10. Any person, no matter what their nationality, may come into the Dominican Republic with a tourist card if they have any of the following valid visas in their passport: United States, Canada, United Kingdom or the European Union (Schengen). If you wish to extend your tourist card to 90 days, you will need to pay UD $20 (RD $800) to immigration when you leave the country. The exit tax is US $20.00, but this is usually included in the airline ticket.
The Dominican people like to dress elegantly, and they love to wear en vogue pieces. Depending on the occasion, they tend to dress either casually or formally. Around hotels and resorts, it is suitable to wear light clothing such as shirts, t-shirts, shorts, swimwear or dresses. In December and January, when the nights are cooler, you may need a light jacket or coat as the temperature drops at night and into the early hours of the morning. If you are going to be in the mountains, you should bring coats and be prepared for temperatures as low as 41 F (5 C), especially in Constanza and Jarabacoa.
The Dominican Republic uses the same call system as the United States. The main area code is 809, though there are also numbers that use a 829 code. You are required to dial ten digits for each call. If you are only given seven digits, it is most likely an 809 telephone number. Because most people now have cell phones, there aren’t as many public phones. If you need a phone, you can buy a prepaid cell phone in the Dominican Republic with a local number for about US $42. The telephone companies that provide cell phone services are: Claro-Codetel, Orange, Tricom and Viva. Viva also sells wireless internet for your laptop. You can purchase a phone in less than an hour at any shopping center. You may also change the “sim card” of your telephone for a local one and use it on your own phone. It is not difficult to find a WiFi hotspot to connect to the internet.