Discovered by Columbus in 1492, the Island became the undocking destination for the Spanish colonies before continuing their conquest of the Caribbean and the American mainland. At the end of the 17th century, Spain recognized the French influence in the western part of the island, with the Spaniards handing over that part of the island to France in 1697. Dominican Republic became independent in 1844. Sharing the same humid tropical climate as its neighbor, the country is very susceptible to severe storms, hurricanes and periodic droughts. A scarcity of food and water, as well as an inadequate quality of healthcare increased the nations’ death rate. Moreover, the fertility rate has been in decline for the past 10 years. Although the country has experienced a significant reduction of poverty from 2006 to 2016, more than a third of the population lives below the poverty line.
Compared to others in the region, the Dominican Republic is a relatively wealthy country and has experienced rapid economic growth. The economy is largely based on services, including tourism and trade, followed by the industry sector. In 2017, travel and tourism generated a significant share of the country’s GDP. The same year, the Dominican Republic was one of the most visited countries in Latin America, welcoming about 6.2 million international tourists. Despite agriculture contributing to a small share to the country’s GDP, the Dominican Republic produces a considerable amount of crops, such as cocoa beans, coffee beans, and avocado. Agricultural products worth approximately 2.1 billion U.S. dollars were exported from the Dominican Republic, accounting for roughly one-third of all exports, most of which were shipped to the United States, the country’s largest trading partner.