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Paradise found

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When Columbus first spied it, he knew he had come into a New World. Mountains, rivers, beaches and a rich history, this island has everything to offer.

The Dominican Republic is located in the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region, with the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island it shares with Haiti. The Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation by area (after Cuba) and third by population.

The original inhabitants of the island were the Tainos tribe, an Arawak people. Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492 and claimed the island for Spain. The Europeans brought with them diseases like small pox, measles and so on decimating the population of the Tainos people.

Having established themselves in Hispaniola, the Spanish found it was a springboard for more exploration and conquest throughout the New World. Santo Domingo became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, and the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World.

After almost three centuries of Spanish rule, in November 1821, the Dominican people declared independence. But, in February 1822, the newly independent country was annexed by Haiti. In 1844, the Dominican War of Independence brought them victory and freedom.

Landforms

The Dominican Republic is mountainous in the central and west, while extensive lowlands dominate the south east.

There are four significant mountain range:

* The rugged Cordillera Central, which is the highest and largest range. It includes Pico Duarte, the country’s highest point, and the highest point in the Caribbean. Several peaks there exceed 5,000 ft.

* A second range, the Cordillera Septentrional runs along the northern Atlantic coast from the western border to the Samana, a peninsula that juts into the Atlantic Ocean.

*Two smaller ranges lie in the far southwestern part of the nation, the Sierra de Neiba and Sierra de Bahoruco.

Compared to the tropical conditions in the west, the lowlands of the south east are exceptionally dry, with little usable plant growth.

There are many small offshore islands and cays that are part of the Dominican territory. The two largest islands near shore are Saona, in the south east, and Beata, in the south west.

Lake Enriquillo in the far south west is the largest lake — a salt lake. The largest river is the Yaque del Norte. Dozens of smaller rivers run through the country from the mountains to the sea.

The first cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress to be built in the Americas is located in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone. It is a World Heritage Site.

Cuisine

The history of the country has found its way into the local cuisine which is strongly tinged with Spanish, Taino and African. A popular breakfast dish is eggs and mangú (mashed, boiled plantain), other options being deep-fried meat or cheese. Rice, meat, bean and salad make a usual work-a-day lunch. La Bandera, meaning The Flag, which consists of meat and red beans on white rice is a popular lunch dish. Treats include arroz con leche, Domincan cake, snow cone and dulce de leche.

Art and culture

The Dominican Republic is the birthplace of Merengue is a musical genre. It is has a lively, fast paced rhythm. Bachata, a form of music and dance that originated in the countryside and rural marginal neighbourhoods, is enjoyed the world over. Salsa music, on the other hand, leaves no one untouched.

Baseball is by far the most popular sport in the Dominican Republic. The country has a baseball league of six teams.

As far as literature is concerned, the Dominicans claim that Christopher Columbus was one of their first writers. This is because he had an immense fascination for his logs and journals.

The majority of writers are from powerful Dominican families or the church. One of the most well known was Friar Bartolome de Las Casa. He started a style of literary nostalgic writing called Indigenismo with his literary work entitled Apologetic Historias de Los Indios. His work helped spread the Indigenismo (a political ideology emphasising the relation between the nation state and indigenous nations and indigenous minorities) movement through the Dominican Republic and further throughout Mexico and the U. S.as well.

Another author that had a great influence was the poet Felix Maria del Monte. He is known as the father of Dominican literature because of his patriotic literary writings.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 1:59:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/paradise-found/article28707681.ece

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