I first traveled to the Dominican Republic in late March of 2010. My main destination was the city of Samana on the northern peninsula. Samana is know for it's green palm tree lined mountains and beautiful beaches. While the city is still relatively poor, it's new status as a eco-tourist destination will surely be a benefit to the region in future. I returned to the D.R. in January of 2015, this time to the city of Punta Cana along the Costa del Coco. Punta Cana is a tourist town with lots beautiful resorts and beautiful beaches.
The Dominican Republic was originally occupied by Tainos Indians. The Tainos welcomed Columbus in 1492, but subsequent colonizers ended up kill many of the Taino, reducing their population from about 1 million to about 500 in 50 years. In 1503 the Spanish started bringing African slaves to the D.R.
In the 1600's, French settlers occupied the western end of the island, which Spain ceded to France and which, in 1804, became Haiti. The Haitians conquered the whole island in 1822 and held it until 1844, when Juan Duarte drove them out of the eastern end of the Island, establishing the Dominican Republic as an independent country. In 1861, the Dominicans returned to the Spanish Empire. But, 4 years later independence was restored. In 1916, the United States invaded and occupied the D.R. until 1924.
From 1930, Rafael L. Trujillo, to 1961 the D.R. was a dictatorship under Rafael Trujillo. Democracy only lasted for 2 years until another military coup. However this dictatorship only lasted a year and since June of 1966 the country has had a relatively Democratic government.