Traveling Luck for Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic is located in Caribbean, eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of Haiti.

Dominican Republic has borders with Haiti for 360km.

Land in Dominican Republic is rugged highlands and mountains with fertile valleys interspersed.

Dominican land covers an area of 48730 square kilometers which is slightly more than twice the size of New Hampshire

As for the Dominican climate; tropical maritime; little seasonal temperature variation; seasonal variation in rainfall.

Dominican(s) speak Spanish.

Dominican National Map

Dominican Map

Regions of Dominican Republic

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 1930-1961. 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.


Dominican Republic Country Profile

The Dominican Republic is a Caribbean representative democracy that enjoyed strong GDP growth until 2003. Although the country has long been viewed primarily as an exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, in recent years the service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy's largest employer due to growth in tourism and free trade zones. Growth turned negative in 2003 with reduced tourism, a major bank fraud, and limited growth in the US economy (the source of about 80% of export revenues), but recovered in 2004 and 2005. With the help of strict fiscal targets agreed in the 2004 renegotiation of an IMF standby loan, President FERNANDEZ has stabilized the country's financial situation. Although the economy continues to grow at a respectable rate, unemployment remains an important challenge. The country suffers from marked income inequality; the poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GNP, while the richest 10% enjoys nearly 40% of national income. The Dominican Republic's development prospects improved with the ratification of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) in September 2005.

Dominican natural resources include nickel, bauxite, gold, silver

shares island of Hispaniola with Haiti

Dominican religion is Roman Catholic 95%.

Natural hazards in Dominican Republic include lies in the middle of the hurricane belt and subject to severe storms from June to October; occasional flooding; periodic droughts.

Travel Advice on Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Health section (removal of reference to stomach ailments).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • Most visits to the Dominican Republic are trouble-free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance is for replacing lost passports.  You should also be aware that there has been an increase in violent crime against the local population.

  • There are reports of an increase in the number of cases of dengue fever in the Dominican Republic.  Santo Domingo and the city of Santiago are most affected.  See the Health section below for further details.

  • The hurricane season in the Dominican Republic normally runs from June to November.  Please see the Natural Disasters section of this Travel Advice and Hurricanes for more information.

  • The threat from terrorism is low.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Local Travel
Taxis are cheap and reasonably reliable. But there have been reported cases of theft in taxis, so keep valuables and cash well hidden. Tourist taxis are safer and more reliable, but also more expensive. Public transport is not recommended, but private companies operate good bus services between cities.
Due to the unpredictable security situation in neighbouring Haiti, we advise against all but essential travel there (for further information see Haiti Travel Advice).
Road Safety
It is easy to hire a car in the Dominican Republic, with many international franchises available. UK driving licences are accepted for visits not exceeding three months.

Although roads are reasonably good, the standard of driving is erratic. Drivers weave from lane to lane and seldom signal. Many vehicles are in a very poor state, often as a result of numerous collisions. Motorcyclists are numerous and a real danger. Road accidents are common. If you are involved in any accident you are liable to be detained by police until the circumstances of the accident have been investigated. It is worth bearing in mind that police tend to favour the motorcyclist in the event of an accident between a motorcycle and another vehicle. If you are detained as a result of a road accident, you are strongly advised to contact the British Embassy in Santo Domingo or Honorary Consulate in Puerto Plata.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

There are high penalties, including long prison sentences in unpleasant conditions, for anyone convicted of drug trafficking. There is an efficient anti-drugs control agency.
Tourism police, who usually speak reasonable English, are available to assist tourists.
Homosexuality is widely accepted in the Dominican Republic.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

All visitors require a tourist card, which can be obtained before travel through: Representation in the UK for Dominican Republic or on arrival at the airport at a cost of US$10 or equivalent. If you intend to stay for up to two weeks departure tax is US$20. Scheduled airlines sometimes include this charge in the price of the ticket so you should check with your tour operator or travel provider about this. If you intend to stay for more than two weeks, departure tax is US$25.
Following further clarification from the Dominican Republic authorities, we understand that visitors under 18 travelling to the Dominican Republic do not require written authorisation from their parents as long as they enter and leave with the same person/people. If visitors between the ages of 13 and 18 are travelling alone, or with a group with no one over 18, then similarly parental authorisation is not required as long as the composition of the party is the same on entry and exit. If visitors under 18 do not intend to leave the Dominican Republic with the same person/people that they entered with, then they are required to carry a sworn affidavit drawn up by a solicitor and signed by their parents/legal guardian authorising that. This affidavit needs to be legalised by the FCO and the Dominican Republic Embassy (contact details above). You should contact the Dominican Republic Embassy if you have any queries about these requirements.
Meat and dairy products from EU countries are currently banned until further notice.  Such items are liable to be removed from luggage and destroyed by airport officials.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance

There are occasional outbreaks of malaria mainly in the border regions with Haiti.  However, in 2005 there were reports of a small number of tourists contracting malaria in the La Altagracia province in the east of the country. In the majority of cases the visitors were staying in the Bavaro and Punta Cana resorts. The resort of Bayahibe is also within the same province. Before travelling, you are advised to contact your doctor for up-to-date advice on anti-malarial medication and on arrival, ensure that you take adequate precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes.  More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets.  However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in the Dominican Republic.
There is also a year round threat from dengue fever, which is contracted from mosquitoes.  The highest number of cases usually reported in the hot season from May to November.  Recent media reports indicate an increased incidence of this disease in the cities of Santo Domingo and Santiago but cases have been reported throughout the country.  There is no vaccine to protect against dengue fever and you should therefore use mosquito repellent regularly and cover up with suitable clothing to avoid being bitten.  Symptoms of dengue fever usually begin seven to ten days after being bitten and include fever with aching joints and bones and a headache.  If you develop these symptoms you should consult a doctor.
Rabies exists in the Dominican Republic and so it is always sensible to steer clear of stray dogs and cats.
To reduce the likelihood of contracting gastro-intestinal viruses, you should not drink tap water or buy food from street vendors.
You should be aware of the high prevalence of the HIV/AIDS virus in the Dominican Republic and should take precautions to avoid exposure to it.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on health, check the Dept of Health's website at: www.dh.gov.uk.
NATURAL DISASTERS
The hurricane season in the Dominican Republic normally runs from June to November.  You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation.  You can also access the http://www.nhc.noaa.gov for updates.  Please also see Hurricanes for more detailed information about what to do if you are caught up in a hurricane.
The Dominican Republic was last struck severely by Hurricane Jeanne in September 2004 and severe flooding affected the western parts of the country in May 2004, though this is well away from any of the major tourist areas. Local weather radio channels track nearby hurricanes, and most hotels have plans in place to handle an emergency situation. Travel operators may be able to give more information.
Earthquakes are a potential threat and tremors are felt occasionally. On 22 September 2003, a strong tremor occurred centred close to the major tourist areas of Puerto Plata, Sosua and Cabarete on the North coast. No injuries to tourists were reported but some hotels suffered structural damage.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help.
It is important to be aware that most local tour companies offering excursions, water sports, jeep and quad bike rental, horse riding etc do not provide insurance cover, so you must check the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy before undertaking any such activities. You should also make sure that adequate safety precautions have been taken by the organisers, for example whether crash helmets and or life jackets are supplied. If in doubt you should seek the advice of your tour operator.
In addition to the British Embassy in Santo Domingo, the UK has an Honorary Consulate in Puerta Plata. For details, see: UK Overseas Mission: Dominican Republic