Dominican Republic History

Dominican Republic. Caribbean country that occupies just over two-thirds of the eastern island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles. It is the second largest country in the Caribbean, preceded only by Cuba. It shares Hispaniola with the Republic of Haiti, having been invaded by it in the 19th century. Its first residents were the Tainos, who saw their population diminished almost to extinction after the arrival of the European colonizers. With the arrival of Columbus, the first European settlement in America was erected in the country, baptized with the name of Santo Domingo., place that currently occupies the capital of the republic.

Pre-Columbian Stage

Human presence on the island has been estimated to date back to around 7,000 BC and the sites of Mordán and Casimira (in Azua) are noted as the places where they were located. The pre-ceramic cultures of the island, coming from the northern region of South America, specifically from the Orinoco, Xingú and Tapajoz river basins located in Venezuela and the Guianas and were migrating by sea from island to island, from the Antilles. Lesser to greater, could be classified into two types of expression:

  • Hunter-gatherer culture with the use of good quality flint as a distinctive element and with the absence of shell and bone implements, polishing and ornamentation in their stony expressions. This culture is called Paleo-Indian or “Mordán Complex”, because it was discovered in the town of Mordán, province of Azua.
  • Gatherer-fisherman-hunter culture, generally linked to large shells and the marine environment, with quite well achieved lithic expressions that include gladiolites, stone balls, necklace beads and the occasional snail shell object. This culture is known as Meso-Indian or Ciboney.

According to, the Tainos occupied all of Hispaniola. The Taíno names for the island were Haiti, Bohío and Quisqueya, which mean mountainous land, big house and great mother of the earth respectively [1] . They developed a culture based fundamentally on agricultural production that allowed them to carry out an appreciable artisan activity of clay and wood objects. In addition, the Taínos were excellent sculptors who made ceremonial artifacts of great artistic expression.

Hispaniola Division

In 1586, the Englishman Francis Drake landed on the island and sacked the city of Santo Domingo. Between 1605 and 1606 a process of depopulation of the western part of the island took place, in what was known as the Osorio Devastations. It received that name because the process was implemented by Antonio de Osorio, then the Spanish governor of the island.

Around 1630, the French, Dutch and English seized Tortuga Island. From that island the French began to penetrate the western part of Hispaniola. In 1697, by the Treaty of Ryswick, Spain ceded that part of the island, present-day Haiti, to France. To the eastern part of the island, to be differentiated from the French colony of Saint Domingue, it was called Santo Domingo Español or Santo Domingo Oriental. In 1777, with the Treaty of Aranjuez, the limits were established between the French and the Spanish parts.

French dominance

The 16 of August of 1791, an uprising of slaves in the French colony spread rapidly, but was quelled by the Navy and the French troops. In 1795, at the end of the Roussillon War against the First Coalition, Revolutionary France achieved, with the Treaty of Basel, that Spain was forced to renounce its sovereignty over the entire island, thus passing into French hands.

In 1801 the slave insurgency resumed. Toussaint Louverture advanced on the eastern part of the island and reached the capital, Santo Domingo, accompanied by a large army, but was repulsed. That same year, they captured Santo Domingo, taking control of the entire island, but in 1802 an army sent by Napoleon captured Louverture and sent him to France as a prisoner. However, the lieutenants of Toussaint Louverture, and yellow fever, managed to expel the French again from Saint-Domingue. The 1 as January as 1804, while Jean-Jacques Dessalines proclaimed the independence of Haiti, the French period began in Santo Domingo, under the administration of Louis Marie Ferrand. During his government, the French took care of the work of reconstruction and consolidation of the Colony. Ferrand issued proclamations abroad calling on the French to live in Santo Domingo; many came to the call as well as some Spanish families, and so things continued to improve incredibly after so many vicissitudes. In Samaná, for example, which until then had been a poor and forgotten village, the Government promoted the planting of coffee plantations that as early as 1808 They promised to give new life to this region, whose French population grew so much that Ferrand even had plans prepared for a modern city that would bear the name “Port Napoleon.” The wood forests, which until then had been exploited very sporadically, were subject to regular exploitation, since the island’s mahogany was in great demand in the United States and Europe for its beauty. Taxes were lowered to the minimum in order to help the Colony’s residents regain their fortunes.

The tranquility that the island lived was interrupted by the occurrence of two fundamental events: in 1808, Spain was invaded by Napoleon Bonaparte, and the cattle trade with the western part of the island was prohibited. Because a large part of the population still felt Spanish, the landowner sector, organized by Juan Sánchez Ramírez, felt betrayed by Bonaparte, and began the resistance with the support of the English. This stage was called the Reconquest War, which reached its climax on November 7, 1808 in Palo Hincado. The November as July as 1809, French administrators capitulate to the British. The English troops then occupied the city of Santo Domingo, until in August of the same year they left the sector and the eastern part was nominally a colony of Spain again. Thus begins the period known as “silly” Spain, that is, of little or no metropolitan intervention in the affairs of the colony, which would last until 1821.

Dominican Republic History

About the author