The Dominican Republic is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that are shared by two sovereign states. The Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation by area (after Cuba) at 48,671 square kilometers (18,827 sq mi), and third by population with approximately 10.5 million people, of which approximately three million live in the metropolitan area of Santo Domingo, the capital city.
The Dominican Republic’s history began with the arrival of Christopher Columbus on December 5, 1492, who claimed the island for Spain. The native Taíno people, an Arawak-speaking subgroup, had been inhabiting the island since the 7th century. After three centuries of Spanish rule the island was ceded to France in exchange for keeping the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo. The French colony was renamed Saint-Domingue.
After the Haitian Revolution of 1804, it became an independent country as the Kingdom of Haiti. In 1844 the Dominican Republic’s independence was proclaimed from Haiti and Santo Domingo became the capital city. In 1861 the country became a republic, and in 1865 it was annexed by the United States. In 1878 the occupation ended and the country returned to Santo Domingo.
In the early 20th century the Dominican Republic experienced significant political turmoil and instability, culminating in the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo from 1930 to 1961. In 1961 the country again became a republic, and has since been relatively stable. The Dominican Republic is the site of the first European settlement in the Americas, the city of Santo Domingo, founded in 1496. It is also the site of the first cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress built in the Americas, located in the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo.