The Dominican Republic was first colonized by the Spanish in 1492, when Christopher Columbus arrived on the island. The Spanish colonized the island and enslaved the native population. The Dominican Republic remained a Spanish colony for over 200 years. In 1844, the Dominican Republic gained independence from Spain. However, the country was soon occupied by Haiti, and it was not until 1865 that the Dominican Republic regained its independence. Since then, the Dominican Republic has been an independent country.