School of Medicine

Country Profile

Geography

Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, is the oldest city in the Western Hemisphere. It is located in the central Caribbean, just southeast of Florida and west of Puerto Rico.

The Dominican Republic comprises the eastern two-thirds of the Hispaniola Island, and is the second largest country in the Caribbean with a surface area of 18,875 squares miles (48,442 square kilometers). It borders the Atlantic Ocean to the North and the Caribbean Sea to the South.

Language

The official language is Spanish although English is widely spoken, especially in tourist areas.

Climate

The climate is warm and tropical with an average temperature of 77° Fahrenheit (25° Celsius). Temperatures range from 89°F (31°C) to 95°F (35°C) and in the winter, from 75°F (23°C) to 90°F (32°C).

Time

The Dominican Republic is located in the Atlantic Time Zone, which is one hour ahead of New York (Eastern Time Zone). The Dominican Republic does not observe daylight savings time.

Population

The population of the Dominican Republic is approximately 9 millions, of which 3 millions live in the city of Santo Domingo.

Electricity

The electricity is 110-120 Volts and 60 Hz, North American plugs.

Currency

The national currency is the Dominican Peso, which fluctuates in value according to the market. Current exchange rates are published on the Internet, local newspapers, etc.

Holidays

Schools, stores, banks, government offices and most businesses close on the following holidays:

January 1st New Year's Day
January 21st Our Lady of Altagracia Day
February 27th Independence Day
The dates for Holy Week and Easter vary each year
1st Thursday in June Corpus Christi Day
September 24th Our Lady of Mercedes Day (Patron Saint of D.R.)
December 25th Christmas Day

The following Holidays will be celebrated on the closest Monday or Friday to the actual date:

January 6th Epiphany Day
January 26th Juan Pablo Duarte's Birthday
May 1st Labor Day
August 16th Dominican Restoration Day
November 6th Constitution Day

You should always consult the official government holiday calendar for accurate up to date information. You may find this calendar at the Ministry of Labor website: http://www.set.gov.do/

Getting Around

There are several options of transportation available in the country. Private taxis are available 24 hours a day in the bigger towns of Santo Domingo, Santiago, and Puerto Plata.

Public cars (cars that follow a regular established route) and buses are inexpensive ways to travel in the city.

Many car rental companies are found in airports and throughout the city. A valid driver's license and a major credit card are required to rent a car for up to 90 days.

Driving is on the right hand side and the speed limit is 37 mph (60 kph) in the cities and 50 mph (80 kph) on the highways, unless otherwise indicated. Buses provide excellent transportation between Santo Domingo and major cities. Major companies as Metro Tours and Caribe Tours offer this service. Domestic Flights are available between the principal tourist regions of the country.

Religion/Churches

The Dominican Republic is predominantly Roman Catholic, however many of the major religions of the world are represented including Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. Services in English are held in some of the Christian churches in the capital city.

Communications

The Dominican Republic has one of the most sophisticated telecommunications systems in Latin America. Similar to U.S. and Canada, for long distance service dial 1-Area Code-Telephone Number. Other services including Internet, Voice Mail, Fax, Tele/Video conferencing, Electronic Mail, telex, etc., are also available.

Local News

Newspapers

Several local morning and afternoon Spanish-language newspapers are available on a daily basis and some are distributed for free in certain places. There are also news reports provided in English on the internet at www.dr1.com and www.dominicantoday.com

Radio

Many radio stations broadcast all day music, news, and educational programs, and some can be heard on the Internet.

TV

There are many national TV stations and via various cable services you can get a full US Programming.

How to get there

The Dominican Republic can be reached either by air or sea. There are many airlines with direct and charter flights from North, Central & South America, the Caribbean, and Europe. There is also Ferry service from Puerto Rico.