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Dominican Republic:
Geography

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Other pages in this profile of the Dominican Republic:
People, Government, Economy, Communications & Transportation, Military & Transnational Issues.
Background
Definition
Explored and claimed by Christopher COLUMBUS on his first voyage in 1492, the island of Hispaniola became a springboard for Spanish conquest of the Caribbean and the American mainland. In 1697, Spain recognized French dominion over the western third of the island, which in 1804 became Haiti. The remainder of the island, by then known as Santo Domingo, sought to gain its own independence in 1821, but was conquered and ruled by the Haitians for 22 years; it finally attained independence as the Dominican Republic in 1844. In 1861, the Dominicans voluntarily returned to the Spanish Empire, but two years later they launched a war that restored independence in 1865. A legacy of unsettled, mostly non-representative rule followed, capped by the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas TRUJILLO from 1930-61. Juan BOSCH was elected president in 1962, but was deposed in a military coup in 1963. In 1965, the United States led an intervention in the midst of a civil war sparked by an uprising to restore BOSCH. In 1966, Joaquin BALAGUER defeated BOSCH in an election to become president. BALAGUER maintained a tight grip on power for most of the next 30 years when international reaction to flawed elections forced him to curtail his term in 1996. Since then, regular competitive elections have been held in which opposition candidates have won the presidency. Former President (1996-2000) Leonel FERNANDEZ Reyna won election to a second term in 2004 following a constitutional amendment allowing presidents to serve more than one term.
Location
Definition
Caribbean, eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Haiti
Geographic coordinates
Definition
19 00 N, 70 40 W
Map references
Definition
Central America and the Caribbean
Area
Definition - World rank and map
total: 48,730 sq km
land: 48,380 sq km
water: 350 sq km
Area - comparative
Definition
slightly more than twice the size of New Hampshire
Land boundaries
Definition
total: 360 km
border countries: Haiti 360 km
Coastline
Definition
1,288 km
Maritime claims
Definition
measured from claimed archipelagic straight baselines
territorial sea: 6 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate
Definition
tropical maritime; little seasonal temperature variation; seasonal variation in rainfall
Terrain
Definition
rugged highlands and mountains with fertile valleys interspersed
Elevation extremes
Definition
lowest point: Lago Enriquillo -46 m
highest point: Pico Duarte 3,175 m
Natural resources
Definition
nickel, bauxite, gold, silver
Land use
Definition - World rank and map
arable land: 22.49%
permanent crops: 10.26%
other: 67.25% (2005)
Irrigated land
Definition
2,750 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources
Definition
21 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Definition
total: 3.39 cu km/yr (32%/2%/66%)
per capita: 381 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards
Definition
lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding; periodic droughts
Environment - current issues
Definition
water shortages; soil eroding into the sea damages coral reefs; deforestation
Environment - international agreements
Definition
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography - note
Definition
shares island of Hispaniola with Haiti


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