Land The Dominican Republic makes up about two thirds of the island of Hispaniola; the other third is occupied by Haiti. The country’s diverse geography includes tropical rain forests, towering mountains, mangrove swamps, and deserts. The highest peak in the Dominican Republic, Pico Duarte, is 10,417 feet (3,175 m) above sea level. Much of the coastline has gorgeous white-sand beaches, and in the interior, there are fertile valleys, such as the productive Cibao Valley.
People The inhabitants are mostly of mixed European and African origins. There are several minority groups; Haitians form the largest.
Language Spanish is the official language.
Livelihood The mining, sugar, coffee, and tobacco industries have traditionally been major sources of revenue. More recent economic growth has taken place as a result of tourism and manufacturing.
Climate The island basks in a mild, tropical climate, with an average annual temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25°C). The average annual rainfall ranges from more than 80 inches (2,032 mm) in the mountainous northeast to fewer than 30 inches (760 mm) in the drier regions. The island is occasionally battered by tropical storms and hurricanes.
Culture Staple foods include rice, beans, and vegetables. Dominicans also enjoy seafood, tropical fruits, peppers, and fried plantains. Some of these foods are found in the ever-popular dish known as La Bandera Dominicana (the Dominican flag). Islanders have a passion for baseball, music, and dancing, especially the merengue. The guitar is very popular, as are drums, flutes, and marimbas.