Journalists in the Dominican Republic who report on drug trafficking, corruption and organized crime risk threats, violence and even kidnapping or murder. Often the acts go unpunished. In addition, there is police violence, arbitrary arrests, searches and seizures. Press crimes such as defamation are punishable by law and are the subject of frequent complaints by politicians and entrepreneurs – often for large sums of damages. Criticism of government officials can be punished with up to three years imprisonment. There are also incitement campaigns against disagreeable journalists.
About The The Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic (Spanish: República Dominicana) lies on the Great Antilles in the area of the West Indies (also: Caribbean Islands), an arch of islands that stretches from Florida to the coast of South America. With an area of 48 700 km², the country is slightly larger than Switzerland. The republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, its smaller neighbour in the west. Otherwise, the country is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean in the north and the Caribbean Ocean in the south.
The Mona Passage (Canal de la Mona) is located between the easternmost tip and the opposite Puerto Rico. The mountain ranges and valleys of the Cordilleras, which run from northwest to southeast, characterize this mountainous country, which has a coastal plain in front of it in the south. The highest mountain of the country – and also of the Caribbean – is the Pico Duarte with 3 175 m altitude. It stands in the centre of the Dominican Republic in the Cordillera Central, which merges into the Massif du Nord in Haiti. Numerous rivers flow through the country, including the Yuna River to the east and the Yaque del Norte River to the north. The largest natural lake is Lago de Enriquillo near the Haitian border.
The Dominican Republic has a tropical climate that is influenced by the trade winds. This constantly blowing wind moves the air masses from the subtropical high-pressure belt towards the equatorial low-pressure channel and causes the change from dry season in winter and rainy season in summer. Temperatures vary only slightly on an annual average. In the capital Santo Domingo they are 24°C in January and 27.5°C in July. In contrast to the temperatures, the precipitation is very different both seasonally and regionally. On the mountain ranges up to 2 500 mm fall annually, while the longitudinal sinks reach only half, in exceptions even less.
Flora and Fauna
Fertile soils (with the exception of the regions in the extreme southwest) have created a rich flora. The mountain slopes are mostly wooded with pines and hardwoods, while in the lower areas large areas have been cleared and converted into cultivated land. The drier areas are overgrown with shrubs and crippled trees (thornbush steppe). Palm trees are common throughout the country. The mountains in the northeast are covered by evergreen rainforest, in the northeast mangroves can be found in the coastal area.
Larger mammals are rarely found in the wild. Alligators live at the mouths of the Yaque and in the lake Enriquillo. In contrast to the mammals, the bird population has a wide range. Fish and shellfish live in the coastal waters around the island. Humpback whales can be observed on the north coast in winter. Round-tailed manatees are also native to the coasts. However, the up to 4.5 m long animals are threatened with extinction, as are the rat-like slit weevils, a species of mammal found only in Central America, which specialize in insect hunting with their trunk-like nose.
Some 8.75 million people live in the Dominican Republic, 73% of whom are mulattoes, 11% black and 16% white. The largest city is Santo Domingo with about 2.73 million inhabitants (agglomeration). Other large cities are Santiago de los Caballeros, San Pedro de Macorís and Barahona. Due to its long colonial history, the Dominican Republic is culturally Spanish. Accordingly, the vast majority of the population (95%) is Roman Catholic. Small Indian groups live in the northern regions. The colloquial and official language is Spanish, and French Creole is widespread on the western border with Haiti. The average life expectancy in the island kingdom is 67.3 years, the literacy rate 85 %. The population grows by 1.5% every year.
According to the 1966 Constitution, the Dominican Republic is a presidential democracy. The supreme holder of the executive branch and thus head of government is the president elected for four years by direct popular vote (since August 2012 Danilo Medina Sánchez).
The bicameral parliament consists of the Senate with 32 members and a Chamber of Deputies with 183 members. The term of office of the members of both chambers is four years. The Republic is divided into ten regions, which in turn are divided into 31 provinces and a national district with the capital.
The Republic’s trade is traditionally very strongly oriented towards the USA. At the same time, the United States provides economic aid on a large scale, thereby exerting a strong political and economic influence on the Dominican Republic. A counterbalance to this is the increasing focus on its Caribbean neighbours. This was demonstrated in 1998 in a free trade agreement with CARICOM, which is an association of fifteen Caribbean states to form a common market. Due to the high number of tourists from Europe, the EU is the third economic pillar of increasing importance for the state.
Tourism, transfers from nationals working abroad and profits from free trade zones are the state’s main sources of income. Telecommunications, services and construction in particular are showing positive trends, while mining and agriculture are declining in importance. Accordingly, services account for 63% of GDP, industry for 31% and agriculture for 6%. Agriculture uses more than two-thirds of the total area of the state, with half of the land under cultivation being owned by a small number of landowners or the state.
The most important imported goods are crude oil and petroleum products, industrial goods, machinery, vehicles and foodstuffs; the most important export goods are nickel, sugar and molasses as well as coffee and cocoa. Gold and silver are also exported. Exports go to the USA, followed by Haiti, the People’s Republic of China and other countries. The majority of imports from the Dominican Republic come from the USA.
The most important ports are on the south coast Santo Domingo, Río Haina and La Romana, on the north coast Puerto Plata. There are several smaller and international airports in the country. The most important are Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata and Punta Cana. The currency is the Dominican Peso.