Dominican Republic

Occupying the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola (Haiti makes up the rest of the island) between the Caribbean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean, the Dominican Republic is known for its beaches and coral reefs, fertile valleys, tropical rainforests and rugged highlands and mountains. Pico Duarte (3098m) in the Cordillera Central range is the highest peak in the Caribbean.

Wildlife in the Dominican Republic includes many species of birds, amphibians and reptiles, including the threatened rhinoceros iguana. Off the coast, one finds four species of marine turtles – leatherback, loggerhead, hawksbill and green – as well as dolphins and humpback whales. Many of these species are protected within a number of national parks and nature reserves, both on land and at sea.

Major threats to the island nation include deforestation, water shortages and soil erosion, which is responsible for damaging many of the country’s coral reefs.

Country Eco-tips

Energy and Water
  • The Dominican Republic experiences severe water shortages and supplies can suddenly dry up. Water supplies rarely fail in the large hotels but this can be at the expense of supplies to local communities. Visitors can help conserve water simply by taking showers instead of baths and using towels for more than one day, to reduce laundry.
  • It is not recommended that you drink tap water. Drinking purified bottled water is recommended and is available everywhere in the Dominican Republic.
  • With no coal and little petroleum, the country has depended upon imported oil for its electrical energy.
  • There are plans to install a solar energy plant, and there is potential for wind and hydropower.
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Recycling
  • There is inadequate management and disposal of sewage, solid waste and recycling in the Dominican Republic.
 
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Transport
  • Most locals get around by small minivans called gua-guas. They are cheap and often overloaded but that get you to most parts of the island.
  • Ferry and boat service is limited in the Dominican Republic, but travelers can make the journey to and from Puerto Rico. A number of smaller ferries and boats offer service to destinations around the island.
  • There is no rail system in the country.
 
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Food
  • Dominican Republic food is a mix of Spanish influences and the cultural and cooking practices of the native Taino Indians. Most of the cuisine is based largely on combinations of meat, rice, beans, vegetables and stews.
  • The most popular national dish is la bandera, which is a combination of rice, red beans, stewed meat (usually goat), salad and fried plantains. Other mainstays are comida criolla, which is a stewed chicken dish served with rice and beans.
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Souvenirs
  • Don’t buy any souvenirs made from turtle shell, butterflies or mahogany.
  • Export permits are required for all souvenirs made from stony coral.
  • Sharks teeth, hard wood carvings and ornamental plants may be legal to purchase and to bring home, however for some species you may need permits.
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Green Spots
  • Armando Bermúdez and José del Carmen Ramírez National Parks: Located in the Cordillera Central mountain range, these two adjacent national parks are home to the highest peaks in the Caribbean. Twelve of the country’s major rivers flow from these mountains, including the country's only whitewater river, the Río Yaque del Norte. The parks are popular for hiking and rock climbing.
  • Del Este National Park: Located in the southeastern part of the Dominican Republic, this park is one of the largest marine parks in the Caribbean. Here one finds manatees, bottlenose dolphins, numerous fish species and extensive coral reefs. On land, the park is known for its tropical forests and cave, where one finds pre-Colombian rock art.
  • Monte Cristi National Park: Situation on the northwestern tip of the Dominican Republic near the border with Haiti, this park contains coastal lagoons, mangrove swamps and a huge mesa, which overlooks spectacularly clear sea below and several small islands located just off shore. Marine turtles lay their eggs on the beaches and over 160 bird species and 10 reptile species can be found here.
  • Samana Bay: Every year, thousands of humpback whales migrate to Samana Bay in the eastern part of the Dominican Republic for the breeding season, which runs from January through March. There are a number of qualified tour operators in the area that can provide well-informed guides.
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Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the above information. However, WWF makes no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding errors or omissions and assumes no legal liability or responsibility for loss or damage resulting from its use.
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