Villa Vista Mar 21
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DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Introduction
Discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus and a small band of adventurers, the Dominican Republic is now visited by over 3 million visitors a year.  A true reflection of its beauty and value as a vacation destination.  Visitors from all over the world come to discover the golden sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, mysterious valleys, majestic mountains and its wonderfully friendly inhabitants.


History of the Dominican Republic 
Columbus named this island La Espanola, and his son, Diego, was its first viceroy.  The capital, Santo Domingo, founded in 1496, is the oldest European-settled city in the Western Hemisphere.  

The Dominican Republic enjoys a stable democratic system and Presidential elections are held every four years.

Under the Constitution the government is divided into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial.  Congress is composed of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.


Population
About half of the Dominicans live in rural areas.  Many are small landholders.  Dominican people (from the poorest to the richest) are very friendly and very kind.  Their doors are easily opened to visitors.  They like to drink and dance on Sundays instead of fighting each other about political opinions.  The 2002 estimated population was 8.7 million. 

Since Christopher Columbus discovered this island, the Dominican Republic has always been primarily a Roman Catholic country.  Dominicans, however, are very open with religions, all beliefs are accepted and protected by laws.


Languages
Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic, but a growing portion of the population also speaks English.


Education
The Dominican Republic provides free, compulsory education for children between the ages of 7 and 14.  About three-fourths of the population aged 15 or older is literate. 


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