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Country profile for Dominican Republic

Provided Courtesy of Security Exchange 24

Risk Rating

Unselected
Red (High Risk) InTouch advice:

Most parts of the country are dangerous.

Do not travel unless absolutely necessary.

Amber (Moderate Risk)
Amber (Moderate Risk) InTouch advice:

Some parts of the country are dangerous.

Travel with caution.

Unselected
Green (Low Risk) InTouch advice:

Most parts of the country are safe.

Travel freely.

General Information

  • Capital: Santo Domingo
  • Major Languages: Spanish
  • Currency: Peso
  • Timezone: GMT -4:00

Country Map

Map of Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic has become a highly popular holiday destination and most trips to the country pass without incident.  However, there are a number of security concerns which travellers should be aware of.

The Dominican Republic shares the Island of Hispaniola with Haiti.  Due to the instability in Haiti, exacerbated by the recent earthquake, travel to the border region should be undertaken with caution.

Crime levels in the country are moderate with the primary threat to foreigners being petty crimes such as bag-snatching and theft.  Incidents of violent crime are rare; however travellers are advised to remain vigilant, especially at night.

Public demonstrations do occur in the country and have been known to violent in the past.  It is recommended that any incidents of civil unrest are avoided wherever possible.

Tropical weather systems can affect the Dominican Republic, especially during the Atlantic Hurricane season which usually runs from June to November.  Local media should be monitored for up-to-date weather information.  As the recent earthquake in neighbouring Haiti demonstrated there is a danger of seismic on the island of Hispaniola.  

Alerts for Dominican Republic

Northern provinces on alert as Hurricane Maria approaches

Severe weather conditions are expected to hit mostly the northern region of the Dominican Republic as the powerful Hurricane Maria approaches the Hispaniola Island. The US-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) has issued a hurricane warning for the Dominican coastal areas from Cabo Engano to Puerto Plata. Furthermore, the Dominican Emergency Operations Centre (COE) has put eight provinces along the Dominican northern coast on a red alert. Tropical storm conditions are also expected to hit the country' southern coast.

Red Alert issued to northern provinces over Hurricane Irma

The National Emergency Operations Centre has declared a red alert in the northern region of the country as Category 5 Hurricane Irma is forecast to hit the Hispaniola Island on Thursday evening. The alert includes 17 provinces mostly located along the northern coast. The US-based Hurricane National Centre (NHC) issued a hurricane warning along the country's northern border with Haiti to Cabo Engano, near Punta Cana.

Emergency services on alert over Hurricane Irma

Emergency services are on alert over the potential impact of Hurricane Irma on the coming days. According to Gloria Ceballos, the head of the National Meteorology Office (Onamet), the system is expected to mainly affect the country's north-eastern Atlantic coast on Wednesday and later on Thursday the northern provinces. Heavy rains, strong winds and rip currents are also expected to most parts of the Dominican Republic the rest of the Hispaniola island - which is also comprised by Haiti.

Four killed in Santo Domingo prison riot

At least four inmates have been killed after a prison riot broke out in the capital Santo Domingo. Local authorities confirmed on Thursday morning that four Haitian nationals were among the casualties after clashes erupted at the La Victoria penitentiary. Ten prisoners have been identified by the Public Ministry as being responsible for the riot, while government officials have headed to the area to launch further investigations to assess the potential motives behind the clashes.

Businessman kidnapped and killed in Santo Domingo

A 34-year-old businessman has been found dead nearly a week after he was presumedly kidnapped in Gascue, Santo Domingo. Eddy Pena was found dead on Tuesday near San Cristobal, on the outskirts of the capital. He worked with rental vehicles and was a law student. Preliminary investigations suggest the victim was abducted moments after showing a vehicle to a client - the vehicle was later set ablaze further north near Santiago.

Thousands march in anti-corruption protest in Santo Domingo

Thousands of people marched on the streets of Santo Domingo on Sunday morning to protest against corruption and impunity amid ongoing investigations involving high-level Dominican politicians. Demonstrators stormed the main streets of the capital to launch a 5km march towards Centro de los Heroes area. This is the seventh march called by the Movimento Verde, which announced further protests in the coming months. The movement demands the criminal prosecution of ministers and lawmakers involved in bribery schemes linked to the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht.

High-profile politicians arrested over Odebrecht bribery scheme

Several high-profile politicians have been arrested as part of the investigations linked to bribery schemes led by the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht. Among the accused are Commerce and Industry Minister Juan Temistocles Montas and Andres Bautista, leader of the main opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM). The arrests come as Brazilian prosecutor released documents implicating Dominican politicians.

Cyclone season begins nationwide

The National Meteorology Office (ONAMET) announced on Thursday the beginning of the cyclonic season in the Northern Atlantic, Mexican Gulf and the Caribbean. Thunderstorms and heavy rains are expected nationwide, with increasing risks near river banks and lakes especially in San Juan, Dajabon and Elias Pina. The cyclone season in the Dominican Republic usually lasts until 30 November.

Ministry of health warns over conjunctivitis cases nationwide

The Dominican Ministry of Health announced on Friday a significant increase in conjunctivitis cases nationwide. Over 8,400 cases have been reported in the last three weeks - mainly in Montecristi, Dajabón, Independencia, Pedernales, Distrito Nacional and Santo Domingo. Conjunctivitis is highly contagious, so it is advised to avoid contact with infected people. Symptoms of most common conjunctivitis cases include watery eyes, sticky eyelashes, itching and general discomfort. In severe cases, it is advised to seek medical assistance.

Border security heightened ahead of UN mission withdrawal from Haiti

The Dominican Defense Minister Ruben Dario announced on Tuesday that the border with Haiti will be reinforced due to the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) withdrawal scheduled for October. Dario said that more than 1,000 soldiers will be deployed along the border to support the Dominican border enforcement agency - Cesfront. MINUSTAH's withdrawal comes after a UN Security Council approval in mid-April.

Thousands evacuated due to heavy rains nationwide

Nearly 20,000 people have been affected and evacuated due to incessant rains nationwide. According to the Emergencies Operations Centre (COE) most affected people headed to temporary shelters and family members' residences. The areas most affected as San Cristobal and Duarte, while 14 other provinces remain under a yellow alert. Dominican soldiers and addition emergency services were deployed nationwide as rains are expected to ease during the following days.

Movement announces march in San Francisco de Macoris

Members of the social movement Green March staged a protest in the Republic's Prosecutor Office (PGR) in Santo Domingo to reject any potential agreement between the PGR and the Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht. The group announced a march to take place on Sunday 23 April in San Francisco de Macoris, northern Dominican Republic. It is estimated that more than $92m in bribes were given to Dominican officials by Odebrecht between 2001 and 2014.

Weather alert issued over heavy downpour nationwide

The Emergency Operations Centre (COE) announced that 16 provinces nationwide are under alert due to severe weather. Most regions across the Dominican Republic are expected to face heavy downpours over the following days. COE revealed that 580 people were displaced while dozens of houses and sectors were both affected and isolated due to flooding and landslides. 

Special forces to be deployed nationwide

The National Police announced on Tuesday the enhancement of the cooperation with Dominican Armed Forces on patrolling operations. The move aims to include the deployment of special military forces to erect checkpoints in critical areas across the country. Furthermore, the National Police announced that most of its police directors were replaced or moved from their original posts, mainly in Santo Domingo.

Thousands protest against corruption in Santiago de los Caballeros

Thousands of people have stormed the streets of Santiago de los Caballeros, northern Dominican Republic, in protests against bribery schemes involving high-level government officials. The demonstrators demanded justice over the estimated US$ 92 million in bribes that were paid by the Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht between 2001 and 2014.

One injured in shooting at Santo Domingo university

One person was injured during a shooting at Santo Domingo's Autonomous University (UASD) on Friday. Local media reported that the shootout erupted when a man attempted to rob a ballot box at the UASD's Medical Faculty during general elections for the Dominican Students Federation (FED). 

Woman killed by stray bullet in Santo Domingo

A 55-year-old was shot dead when hit by a stray bullet in the capital Santo Domingo. The woman was in a vehicle with a child when criminals attacked another victim near a bank in Francisco Prats Ramirez street. The capital Santo Domingo is located in the National District, known to be one of the most deadly areas in the Dominican Republic.

Hundreds protest against corruption in Santo Domingo

Hundreds of people have gathered on the streets of Santo Domingo to protest against government corruption in the Dominican Republic. The march on Sunday comes as part of the week-long action led by several civil groups to demand justice over the corruption scandal regarding the construction conglomerate, Odebrecht. Demonstrations across the continent became recurrent after bribery schemes involving millionaire public projects in 12 Latin American countries. 

Low intensity earthquake shakes San Pedro de Macoris

A 4.6-magnitude earthquake was recorded in San Pedro de Macoris, south-eastern Dominican Republic, on Tuesday morning. Despite no damages or casualties, the earthquake was felt in areas throughout the capital Santo Domingo and National District. Authorities remain vigilant for potential aftershocks. The island of Hispaniola is located along the Caribbean tectonic plate, a region prone to seismic activity.

Two journalists killed during broadcast near Santo Domingo

Two Dominican journalists have been killed during a live broadcast near the capital Santo Domingo. According to Fox News, both of them had been recording a show when the shooting broke out in San Pedro de Macoris. A press assistant was also hit and taken to the hospital for surgery. Authorities have stated that three suspects have been arrested as further investigations are being carried out.

Three killed in Santiago shooting

Three people have been killed in a shooting in Santiago (de los Caballeros), northern Dominican Republic. The shootout took place in the Cerro de Papatin neighbhourhood where a 10-year-old Haitian boy was killed. Locals told El Caribe that the shooting in the area have been recurrent amid an ongoing territorial gang dispute. Santiago along with the capital Santo Domingo presents one of the highest homicide and robbery rates in the country.

Protesters demand justice over taxi driver death in Bani

Sympathisers and family members of a deceased taxi driver have staged a protest near the Republic's General Attorney (PGR) office in Bani, southern Republic Dominican. The demonstration has demanded justice for the death of Ruben Dario Diaz Pimentel who was killed in mid-December by the police. They shouted over police brutality and demanded answers on a long abandoned judicial process. 

Thousands march in Santo Domingo against impunity

Thousands of protesters have stormed the streets of Santo Domingo to march against political impunity. Demonstrators gathered on Sunday and headed towards the government headquarters at the Palacio Nacional and Parque Independencia to criticise both the administration of President Danilo Medina and the opposition over the recent corruption scandal engulfing the country. The march comes to pressure the government over the corruption case involving the Brazilian construction-giant Odebrecht that paid millions in bribe to be granted public contracts in Dominican Republic.

German expatriate and wife kidnapped in Puerto Plata

A German national and his Dominican wife have been kidnapped in Puerto Plata province, northern area of the country. Reports have revealed that the couple's residence in the touristic Sosúa municipality was raided by several criminals. Moments after the abduction, the wife was released in the Imbert municipality, however the man remains missing. Foreigners living in Dominican Republic are occasionally targeted by kidnappers. In 2011, a Canadian couple was taken in Sosúa and were later rescued by security forces.

Civil organisations to march in Santo Domingo against impunity

Hundreds of people are expected to gather on the streets of Santo Domingo to protest against government impunity in Dominican Republic. At least 15 civil society organisations have summoned supporters to march across the mains streets of the capital on Sunday morning, 22 January. According to organisers, the march will pressure the government on prosecute Dominican politicians involved in the major Latin American corruption scandal involving the Brazilian construction-giant Odebrecht. The protests are also set to demand the suspension of the contract with the company on the construction of the Punta Catalina power station.

Peasants protest against gold mine in Cotui

Peasants of several communities of Cotui, central Dominican Republic, have staged a protest to complain against the alleged river contamination caused by a local gold mine. Locals have stormed the gates of the Laguna Limitad mine claiming that mineral exploration works in the area are contaminating their crops and water sources, namely the Maguaca river. For years, hundreds of families have been blaming gold mining companies for the spread of diseases and contamination of their local waterways in Cotui.

Lieutenant found dead near Santo Domingo

A Lieutenant of the Dominican Army has been found dead on a road in the outskirts of Santo Domingo. The body of the 55-year-old soldier was found on Monday with several bullet wounds, at the Duarte Vieja road, near the Pedro Brand municipality. Preliminary investigations carried out by the police have revealed that a black mask was found at the scene, however no more information has since been disclosed. Santo Domingo has one of the highest homicide rates in the country along with successive cases of armed robberies.

Police officer shot in robbery attempt in Santo Domingo

On 18 December, an off-duty police officer was shot and injured during a robbery attempt in Santo Domingo. The incident happened as the victim was riding a motorcycle with his partner when they were attacked by three armed men in the Villa Juana sector. The assailants attempted to rob their motorcycle, but the shooting broke out when one of the attackers noticed that the victim was holding a firearm under his shirt. Villa Juana is one the provinces with the highest robbery rate in the National District region.

Heavy downpour triggers flooding in Puerto Plata

Several communities across the northern province of Puerto Plata were isolated due to the rising levels of the River Bajabonico and Maimón. The communities of La Piragua and Los Caños are among the areas affected by the heavy downpour reported since Sunday, along the Atlantic coast. Local traffic and access to the communities were completely blocked by flooding, enhanced by strong winds and tropical storms. The rainy season in Puerto Plata usually runs from November to February.

Three taxi-drivers shot dead in southern Dominican Republic

Three taxi drivers were killed in separate incidents during the week in southern Dominican Republic. One of the incidents took place in the capital Santo Domingo, where José Canario Ramírez was shot dead in the Italia neighbourhood. Moments later, in the southern province of Peravia, a 50-year-old taxi-driver was killed by a stray bullet when a shooting broke out between police officers and criminals in the Baní area. Further, another case on the National District led to the death of a 32-year-old driver. The victim's body was sprayed with bullets during an assassination in the Parque Independencia, where the assailant was later arrested. Santo Domingo has one of the highest criminality rates in Dominican Republic, where public transport often being targeted by armed robbers.

Two criminals shot dead during kidnap attempt in Santo Domingo

On 2 December, two suspected kidnappers were killed and another was injured when they attempted to kidnap a British citizen in Santo Domingo. Reports state that the group attempted to abduct a 49-year-old man in Bella Vista area of the city. The police are still investigating whether the victim is an expatriate or a tourist and the injured assailant is being questioned about the motives of the attack. Santo Domingo has been reporting a high rate of criminal activity, especially outside resorts and tourist areas.

Three killed in separate incidents in Santiago de los Caballeros

On 4 December, three people were killed in separate incidents in Santiago, northern Dominican Republic. In Santiago de los Caballeros, an Air Force Colonel was shot dead when approached by armed men in the Gurabo neighbourhood. The assailants robbed the military official and took his service pistol and wallet. Moments later, another incident happened in the Baracoa sector of the town. An armed man attempted to rob a hardware store and a firefight erupted after police arrived on the scene. The 28-year-old assailant was shot dead. As in most major Dominican cities, Santiago reports a significant level of criminal activity.

Religious leader warns over shootings in Santo Domingo neighbourhood

A local religious leader has urged the authorities to act after widespread shootings in the Santa Lucía area in Santo Domingo. Pablo Ureña stated that every day, partilcularly on weekends, families are terrified by the shootings reported in the neighbourhood. Several families raised concerns over the possibility of a stray bullet penetrating houses or hitting pedestrians. He believes that the assailants are youngsters related to local drug-traffickers.

Dozens injured in bus crash in south-east coast

At least 40 tourists have been injured as their bus crashed in south-eastern Dominican Republic. The incident happened on Thursday morning when the bus, travelling on the Coral Highway, flipped over en route between Higuey and Bayahibe. The trip was part of a excursion to Catalina Island and was operated by a local travel agency. According to the authorities, the accident was caused when one of the tires burst.

Senate approves state of emergency to provinces affected by heavy rains

The Dominican Senate has approved the executive pledge to declare a state of emergency in 15 provinces deeply affected by November's heavy rains. Among the provinces are Puerto Plata, La Vega, Santiago, Samaná, Hemanas Mirabal, El Seibo and several others, especially in the northern region. The move came as the central government is now allowed to support reconstruction efforts in such affected areas through the employment of exceptional measures. The heavy rainfall forced thousands of people to be evacuated and left dozens of towns isolated due to flooding and landslides.

One killed and one wounded by armed men at bar in Santo Domingo

On 29 November, one person was killed and another was injured when they were shot by armed men in Santo Domingo. Both victim were at a bar on the 27 de Febrero avenue when they were approached by unknown assailants in a jeep. Homicide rates in Santo Domingo are one of the highest in country, along with Santiago, La Vega and San Cristóbal.

Four people killed as severe weather hits Hermanas Mirabal

Four people have been killed in separate incidents caused by a heavy downpour in Hermanas Mirabal, northern province of the country. In the locality of Salcedo, three people were killed while sleeping after a tree fell on a house during the night. The fourth victim was a teenager who was swept away by the stream of the Hayabo river in Villa Tapia. According to the Centre for Emergency Operations (COE), at least 14,000 people are displaced, while 40 provinces remain under Red alert. The authorities revealed that the heavy rains have been caused by the strong winds coming from north-east, centre and south-eastern areas of the country.

Workers' syndicate stage march over social security changes

Members of the National Confederation of Dominican Workers (CNTD) marched on the streets of Santo Domingo over the changes to the social security legislation. The march happened on Tuesday in the Distrito Nacional, and in other areas across the country. The marchers have demanded the preservation of the Dominican Institute of Social Security (IDSS) and restructure of the health service currently provided to workers towards its incorporation on the National Health Service. The CNTD also announced that similar marches have been held in San Pedro de Macorís, Santiago and Barahona.

Family attacked by criminals at park in Santo Domingo

A woman has been injured after being shot in the arm during a robbery in Santo Domingo. Keili Inés Cabral Rodríguez was walking with her children at the Mirador del Sur park in the southern area of the capital, when two men approached them. The victim told the police that the men were on a motorcycle and ordered her to hand over her bag. Several areas of Santo Domingo are among the worst hit areas in the country in terms of robberies.

Ministry of health warns over potential cases of leptospirosis

The Dominican ministry of health is advising doctors in the northern area of the country to observe patients with fever over potential cases of leptospirosis. The move comes as a preventive measure to avoid a widespread contamination. At least eight provinces in Cibao are flooded due to heavy rainfall recently. The government has been monitoring all the drinkable water sources in order to assure the consumers' safety and avoid possible infections. Floods enhance the possibility of the spread of leptospirosis: a bacteria mainly contracted through contact with animals.

Thousands evacuated due to flooding in Monticristi

Thousands of people were evacuated on Tuesday in Monticristi, north-western Dominican Republic, due to the rising Yaque del Norte river level. The populations of Castañuelas and Palo Verde were forced to leave their homes in the early hours of the morning as heavy rainfall caused flooding in the region. The rainy season in Dominican Republic usually occurs from May until the end of November.

Dozens injured during peasants evicton in El Seibo

Fierce clashes between peasants and the police led to the injury of at least 10 people in El Seibo, an eastern region of the country. Nearly 600 farm workers were occupying an area in the Las Culebras community, San Francisco-Vicentillo district. The eviction came after a foreign owner of the land demanded that the workers leave the area, which used to belong to the Sugar State Council. The campesino movement in Dominican Republic has been long clashing with the government and large farm owners. They call for a just agrarian reform in the country and the guarantee of the peasants' rights with efficient agricultural policies.

President hightens emergency level in northern provinces

After nearly a month on high alert over heavy rains and severe weather, president Danilo Medina heightened the emergency level in eight provinces in the country's northern region. The heavy downpour, followed by landslides, flooding and destruction of buildings and residences, led to water and food shortages in the affected areas, with hundreds of people being displaced. The provinces of Puerto Plata, Espaillat, Duarte and Maria Trinidad Sánchez were mainly affected by flooding caused by local rivers over-spilling their banks. In Valverde, Santiago, La Vega and Sánchez Ramírez, hundreds of houses and crops were destroyed by the weather, while in Samana, landslides isolated several villages. The rainy season in he Dominican Republic often happens from later May until November.

Four shot dead overnight in northern Dominican Republic

Four people have been killed in separate incidents reported between Sunday and Monday. The incidents took place in northern Dominican Republic in the communities of Villa Taipa and Santiago, Hermanas Mirabal province. One of the deaths was in Villa Tapia amid a family dispute, where Luis Suriel was shot dead by his father-in-law after beating up his wife. In Villa González a couple riding a motorcycle was targeted in a gun attack, where Vladimir Cabrera was killed and his wife was wounded. Elsewhere an armed dispute in Santiago led to the death of one man. The attacker, Jorge Martinez, later engaged in a confrontation with the police, who shot him dead. In 2015, Santiago was the province that recorded one of the highest murder rates in the country along with San Cristoban, Santo Domingo and La Verga.

Tropical Storm Matthew reaches hurricane strength in Caribbean

Tropical Storm Matthew reached hurricane strength on Thursday night with sustained winds of over 100kmp/h.  Matthew is expected to strengthen further before heading north through the Caribbean Sea, threatening Jamaica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.  At least one death has already been reported as a result of the storm in St Vincent, while there have been power outages in Barbados and Martinique.  Meteorologists are predicting that the storm will hit Jamaica with winds in excess of 160kmp/h on Monday.

President Medina wins re-election

The Dominican Republic's President Danilo Medina has been re-elected following Sunday's elections.  Early results show Mr Medina received 62 percent of the vote, well ahead of his rival Luis Abinader on 35 percent.  "We have received the support of the majority of the Dominican people," Medina said in a speech at his campaign headquarters.  At least six people were killed in politically-motivated unrest during the vote, while gunfire was reported in the eastern city of Higuey on Monday night.  The authorities blamed tension between rival candidates for the violence.

Two wounded in Bonao protests

At least two people have been wounded in clashes at a protest in the city of Bonao.  The rally was organised by the Broad Front of Popular Struggle (FALP) after the arrest of the group's spokesman and leader.

Dominican Republic Data Sheet

Population:
9.4 million
Major Religion/s:
Christianity
International dialing code:
+1809
International dialing prefix:
011
Emergency services:
911
Drives:
Right
Voltage:
110V
Climate:
Tropical
Ohter Major Cities:
Santiago de los Caballeros
Borders:
Haiti