As one of the fastest rising tourist destinations in the world, Dominican Republic tourism has a lot to offer. Whether you're walking a plaza in Santo Domingo or lounging around at one of the many luxury resorts in the honeymoon spot of Punta Cana, the country is sure to impress and inspire. The Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean nation after Cuba, with an estimated 10 million people, and was discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492 to become the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas. Santo Domingo became the country's capital and Spain's first capital in the New World, and was also home to the first university, cathedral, and castle in the Americas.

"Dominican-Republic - Bayahibe" by Reinhard Link via Flickr Creative Commons

With such a rich history, much of the Dominican Republic’s appeal has to do with historical landmarks, museums and other remnants that give tourists a glimpse into one of the Caribbean's first settlements. The country also attracts many visitors due to its warm climate and breathtaking natural wonders, like Pico Duarte, the Caribbean's highest mountain, and Lake Enriquillo, the Caribbean's largest lake and lowest elevation. When you're not exploring the beautiful surroundings, head to a baseball game, which is the country's most popular sport, or try your luck at learning the merengue, the country's national dance performed by many locals. After you've worked up an appetite, try one of the nation's typical dishes like "La Bandera," which is the most popular lunch dish and consists of meat and red beans on white rice. Another popular dish with locals is Sancocho, a stew often made with seven varieties of meat. It is clear that the Dominican Republic tourism is a growing with a lot to offer, from good music and food to historical landmarks and sprawling plazas.

"Bavaro Sunrise, Dominican Republic" by Joe deSousa via Flickr Creative Commons

Here are a few facts about the Caribbean nation that will hopefully make planning your next tropical vacation a little bit easier.

  • The Dominican Republic has become the Caribbean's largest tourist destination, as the country's year-round golf courses are among the top attractions.
  • The Dominican Republic is situated on the eastern part of the second-largest island in the Greater Antilles, Hispaniola. It shares the island roughly at a 2:1 ratio with Haiti and is the second largest country in the Antilles, after Cuba.
  • The climate of the Dominican Republic is mostly tropical and the annual average temperature is 77 °F. At higher elevations, the temperature averages 64.4 °F while near sea level the average temperature is 82.4 °F. January and February are the coolest months of the year, while August is the hottest month.
  • The most popular sport in the Dominican Republic is baseball and the country has a baseball league of six teams. Its season usually begins in October and ends in January. After the United States, the Dominican Republic has the second-highest number of Major League Baseball (MLB) players.
  • For most of its history (up to independence) the country was known as Santo Domingo, the name of its present capital, and its patron saint, Saint Dominic. The residents were called "Dominicanos" (Dominicans), which is the adjective form of "Domingo," and the revolutionaries named their newly independent country "La República Dominicana."
  • The Dominican Republic is almost entirely Spanish speaking, but schools are based on a bilingual education, with English being taught as a secondary language in most schools. Haitian Creole is spoken by much of the population of Haitian descent and there is a community of about 8,000 speakers of Samaná English in the Samaná Peninsula. They are the descendants of formerly enslaved African Americans who arrived in the 19th century.
  • The Dominican Republic is primarily dependent on natural resources and government services. However, the service sector has recently overtaken agriculture as the leading employer of Dominicans (due principally to growth in Dominican Republic tourism), while agriculture remains the most important sector in terms of domestic consumption and is in second place, behind mining, in terms of export earnings.
  • Capital city Santo Domingo, known officially as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic, with a population of around 2,253,437. Founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1496, it is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas, and was the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World.