Santo Domingo

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Santo Domingo from space, May 1992

Santo Domingo de Guzmán, population 2,061,200 (2003), estimated 2,253,437 in 2006, is the capital and the largest city of the Dominican Republic. The city is located at 18°30′N 69°59′W, on the Caribbean Sea, at the mouth of the Ozama River. It is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas, and was the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World. It is also considered the most populated city in the Caribbean Region.

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[edit] Historic Background

Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Taíno Indians populated the island of Hispaniola, including the part now occupied by Haiti. At that time, a several chieftains or caciques ruled the island through complex, centralized governments, a fact completely lost on the Europeans, who dismissed the natives as "savages."

Bartholomew Columbus, brother of Christopher Columbus, founded Santo Domingo, which is today the oldest European city in the New World. In reality the city dates back to 1496, the period when the first Europeans settled there, although officially it was founded on August 5, 1498. Governor general Nicolás de Ovando arrived in 1502 with a fleet of 20 ships and 2,500 men. Santo Domingo was destroyed by a hurricane shortly after his arrival and he had it rebuilt on a different nearby site (Meinig 1986:9). The original layout of the city and a large portion of its defensive wall can still be appreciated today throughout the Colonial Zone, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. The Colonial Zone, bordered by the Río Ozama, has also an impressive collection of 16th century buildings, including palatial houses and majestic churches that reflect the architectural style of the late medieval period.

The city's most important colonial buildings include the Catedral Primada de América, which is the first Catholic Cathedral in America; the Alcázar de Colón, once the residence of Don Diego Colón, the son of Christopher Columbus who became viceroy of the colony; the Monasterio de San Francisco, the ruins of the first monastery in America; the Museo de las Casas Reales, the former Palace of the Governor General and the Palace of Royal Audiences; the Parque Colón, a historic square; the Fortaleza Ozama, the oldest fortress in America; the Panteón Nacional, a former Jesuit now hosting the remains of various renown Dominicans; and the Iglesia del Convento Dominico, the first convent in America.

Throughout its first century, Santo Domingo was the launching pad for much of the exploration and conquest of the New World. The expeditions that led to Ponce de Leon's discovery of Puerto Rico, Hernando Cortes' conquest of Mexico and Balboa's sighting of the Pacific Ocean all started from Santo Domingo.

In 1568, the famous English pirate Francis Drake invaded and pillaged the Hispaniola. This so weakened Spanish dominion over the island that for more than 50 years all but the capital was abandoned and left to the mercy of the pirates. In 1655, the French invaded the west end of the island, and after several treaties and forced annexations, the portion of the island controlled by Santo Domingo was reduced to less than half. Later on, in 1822, the Haitians, commanded by Jean-Pierre Boyer, took over the entire island, and the island's Spanish-speaking residents had to fight for their lost independence and survival. Finally, on February 27, 1844, the Spanish part of the island regained its independence after 22 years of Haitian rule thanks to a group of patriots headed by Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez and Matías Ramón Mella, being the Puerta del Conde the main scenario of this relevant event. It was then when the Spanish part of the island became the country known today as the Dominican Republic.

After the independence was achieved, various political factions struggled for control of Santo Domingo. In addition to this instability, the country had to fight continuous Haitian incursions, which were in their totality defeated. In 1861, the Spanish returned to Santo Domingo and annexed the country for four years, this period is known as the Anexión a España. After that, Santo Domingo went through many power changes, including the 20th century Trujillo dictatorship (established after the 1916-1924 occupation by U.S. Marines), which lasted from 1930 to 1961 and ended with the execution of the dictator (during this time Santo Domingo was known officially as Ciudad Trujillo); as well as the multiple presidencies of Joaquin Balaguer, who governed the country for 22 years. These civil wars and political struggles marked the first 70 years of the country's independence.

The year 1992 marked the 500th anniversary, El Quinto Centenario, of Christopher Columbus' discovery of America. The Columbus Lighthouse (Faro de Colón), with an approximate cost of 400 million Dominican pesos, was erected, amidst great controversy, in honor of this occasion.

There are some museums dedicated to the history of the Dominican Republic, the Museo de las Casas Reales is dedicated to the colonial period; while the soon-to-be renovated Museo de Historia y Geografía is dedicated to the Dominican history prior the Discovery up to contemporary times. The history of the Independence is summarized in the Museo y Casa de Duarte and the Altar de la Patria.

The cobblestone streets and late medieval architecture of the Western Hemisphere's first European city let visitors glimpse the colonial past, as vibrant nightlife, warm beaches and posh resorts take historic Santo Domingo into its future.

[edit] Public Transportation

  • OMSA:

The Main public transportation system is The OMSA managed by the National Government. The OMSA buses run on Schedule Most of the time[Government lack of fund to the transportation system has plague the efficiency with and raised a low quality on the system] and are a cheap way to get around the city. The Bus with out air-conditioner and with only the basic features cost $10DOP(Dominican Peso) roughly $.33USD[1USD-30DOP], there's a Second Type of bus a little more expensive which offers air conditioner and the most favorable. A Third Kind Of Bus exist which is The Expresso OMSA which only stops in Transportational Hubs.

  • Private Companies:

There Are numbers of private companies like Caribe Tour And Coach around the country that offer numerous amount of buses to special points like: Santo Domingo TO Puerto Plata, Punta Cana TO Santo Domingo, Santiago TO Puerto Plata, Santiago To Santo Domingo and much other places at relatively cheap prices.

  • Metro Of Santo Domingo:[under Construction For 2008]

The Metro Of Santo Domingo Is Basic One Line System Crossing The Santo Domingo province From North To South. The Project was proposed By Brazil In Under Hipolito Mejia's Presidency but it wasn't until Leonel Fernandezwhen the project was approved. The Project Is Under Construction By Foreign countries and is said to be finished by 2008/09. The First Line is going to Start At The Stop Isabela And Finish In Santo Domingo Coast At La Feria. A Second lane is planned and the possibility is that is going cross the city From West To East forming a Cross with the First lane. the Second Lane may be below The major Street In Santo Domingo "Avenida 27 De Febrero" were most of the bussiness goes on. Lane two is still not under construction and the project hasnt oficially been approved by the congress

  • Independent Cheaper Bus Companies Around The City:

The other form of transportation used by the general public are "carros públicos" (public cars) which are basically taxis that run up and down a street much the same way as the private buses. They are more expensive than OMSA buses, costing almost exactly as much as regular buses, but considerably less than regular taxis. As you share the ride with others in close quarters, tourists are easy targets for pickpockets, and unless you know your way around, the safest form of transportation is by calling a regular taxi or renting a car. Although not as common in the capital as in the country, motoconchos are small motocycles that offer taxi services, but are not the safest form of travel, especially considering the driving habits of Dominicans.


[edit] See also

[edit] References

Dominicanaonline.org is the portal for the Dominican Republic, created by the Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo [1] and the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development [2] It aims to present the country in all its splendor on a national and international scale, providing up-to-date and relevant information.


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Santo Domingo

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