In addition, they retain close ties with the United States, which occupied the island in the early twentieth century.
By 1804 the black African slaves in the western portion of the island (now Haiti) rebelled against the French and ruled the entire island.
French troops eventually reclaimed the island, but were able to occupy only the western end.
The central region is dominated by the Cordillera Central (central range) which ends at the Caribbean Sea.
The highest point in the Caribbean is Pico Duarte, which reaches an elevation of over 10,414 feet (3,175 meters) and has alpine forests near the summit.
The Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo is one of the great treasures of Spanish America today, with many original buildings intact and restored. The population of the Dominican Republic is about 8.4 million (2000 estimate) and is increasing at a rate of 1.6 percent per year.
More than 1 million Dominicans live full or part time in New York City and are called Dominican Yorks.
The weather is mostly tropical, especially along the southern and eastern coasts.
The time and magnitude of the rainy season varies in different parts of the country, but generally occurs in late spring and early fall.
A few years later the city of Santo Domingo became the Spanish capital of the New World, and because of its location in the trade winds, it was the gateway to the Caribbean.