Rugged highlands and mountains with fertile valleys interspersed
Population: 10,349,741 (July 2014 est.)
Languages: Spanish (official)
Roman Catholic 95%, other 5%
The Dominican Republic has long been viewed primarily as an exporter of sugar, coffee, and tobacco, but in recent years the service sector has overtaken agriculture as the economy's largest employer, due to growth in telecommunications, tourism, and free trade zones. The economy is highly dependent upon the US, the destination for approximately half of exports. Remittances from the US amount to about 5% of GDP, equivalent to about a third of exports and two-thirds of tourism receipts.
Traditional rural dwellings are made of wood with thatched or tin roofs and are often painted in bright colors. To keep the house cool, cooking is usually done in a separate structure that has slotted sides to release smoke and heat. The extensive rural-to-urban migration has created a severe housing shortage in the cities. Slums and squatter settlements have sprung up in the capital city of Santo Domingo. Health programs are offered through the nation's welfare system.
US Military Presence/Support