The indigenous people of taino were
obliterated after the arrival of the Europeans in the
15th century. Instead, slaves were brought from Africa
to the sugarcane farms that were built. The area was
initially Spanish but France and Haiti, which became its
own state in 1804, controlled it in turns. The Dominican
Republic was proclaimed in 1844 as independent from
Haiti. An unpaid foreign debt contributed to the US
occupying the country in 1916-1924. A military coup by
General Trujillo in 1930 became the prelude to 30 years
The indigenous people, taino, who spoke an Arabic
language, are believed to have populated the Caribbean
island world from South America beginning before our
era. When the European sailor Christofer Columbus
reached the island in 1492 he named his Hispaniola,
there were an estimated half a million inhabitants.
During the first half of the Spanish colonization, the
urinals were exterminated by violence, forced labor and
new diseases that the settlers brought from Europe. In
the first decades after the arrival of the Spaniards,
gold production was important. At the beginning of the
16th century, sugar cane plantations were built on the
island. As labor, slaves were imported from Africa.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Dominican Republic, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
The Spanish conquests of new and richer areas of
Central and South America transformed Hispaniola from
center to periphery of the Spanish empire. During the
1700s, French trading companies and pirates took control
of western Hispaniola. In 1697, Spain surrendered the
western part of the island to France.
In 1804, western Hispaniola proclaimed their
independence as Haiti, becoming the first free black
republic in the world. It happened after the slaves had
In 1822 Haiti occupied the Spanish part of the
island. The underground organization La Trinitaria drove
the Haitians out in 1844 and proclaimed the independent
Dominican Republic. However, Haiti continued with its
invasion attempts, while the Dominican Republic was
weakened by internal divisions. Several local leaders,
caudillos, fought for power.
One of them, President Pedro Santana, offered Spain part
of the Dominican Republic in exchange for protection
against Haiti, and in 1861 the country came back under
Spanish domination. It aroused strong resistance and led
to civil war. In 1865, the Dominican Republic became
independent for the second time.
The following 50 years were characterized by economic
and political instability. Powerful and corrupt
caudillos led the country and unabashedly borrowed large
amounts of dollars in North American and European banks.
When the Dominican Republic was unable to pay the
foreign debt, the United States took over its customs
system in 1905. It became the prelude to an American
occupation of the country in 1916-1924. The United
States built a new Dominican army under the leadership
of General Rafael Leónidas Trujillo.
Towards the end of the occupation, Horacio Vásquez
was elected president. He was overthrown in 1930 in a
coup, supported by Trujillo. Then elections were
announced, which Trujillo won after extensive electoral
fraud, and a more than 30-year dictatorship began.
Periodically, Trujillo ruled the country indirectly
through his brother Héctor and later through his
confidant, Joaquín Balaguer. He had his capital renamed
Ciudad Trujillo, Trujillo City.
Trujillo was running a terror. He tortured and
murdered his political opponents. In 1937, he ordered a
massacre of Haitian farmers in the country in revenge
for the execution of a Dominican spy in Haiti. Between
15,000 and 30,000 people were killed.
Thanks to the high sugar price during World War II,
Trujillo was able to pay off the country's foreign debt.
He accelerated industrialization and increased public
investment. Trujillo, who was called the Beneficiary (el
Benefactor), ruled the country as a family
business and seized many businesses and land. His family
eventually owned two-thirds of the country's assets.
In 1961, the dictator was assassinated by a group of
soldiers and businessmen. The action was supported by
the United States, which feared that Trujillo, like
Cuba's dictator Batista, would be overthrown by
revolutionaries. Trujillo's life and death are depicted
in the book Bockfesten by
Peruvian Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa.