Dominican Republic, one of the largest growing economies in latin america and the largest in the caribbean.
A Convenient Location
The Dominican Republic, with an area of 18,712 square miles, is the second largest country (after Cuba) in the Caribbean. It has about 1,000 miles of shoreline, four mountain ranges and fertile valleys.
Because it is located between Cuba and Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic has convenient access to markets in the United States, Canada and Latin America, as well as in Europe.
A Mild Climate
The country has a mild climate, with an average temperature of 77 degrees. There are two brief rainy seasons, from May to July and from October to November.
As part of the Caribbean basin, the Dominican Republic is susceptible to tropical storms. However, its topography and location often help to reduce the intensity C and even to change the course C of these storms.
The Dominican Population
There are about 7.8 million people living in the Dominican Republic. The most recently available statistics indicate that the Dominican population grew during the period of 1990 to 1995 at a rate of about 2.8% per year. The average life expectancy of Dominican men is 63.9 years and of Dominican women is 68.1 years.
It should be emphasized that in addition to the population resident in the Dominican Republic, about 1 million other Dominicans currently live in the United States. This is yet another reason for the close relationship between the two countries.
The Government of The Dominican Republic
A Democracy In Action
The Dominican Republic has a representative democratic government whose power is divided among three independent branches: the executive, the legislative and the judicial.
The executive power is exercised by the president. As a result of changes the country made to its constitution in 1994, presidential elections are now held separately from legislative and municipal elections; the president must be elected by a majority vote, which may require a second round of elections if the first round does not provide a majority to any one candidate; and a president may not be elected to more than one consecutive term.
The legislature is a bicameral Congress consisting of a Senate and a Chamber of Deputies. There are 30 senators, one for each of the country’s 29 provinces and the National District (where the capital is located), and 145 deputies. All of these representatives are elected directly by the voters for four-year terms.
The Dominican judicial system is largely based on the French judicial system and consists of the following courts:
* Peace Courts, which handle a broad variety of small cases;
* Courts of First Instance, which have jurisdiction over all cases the jurisdiction of which is not expressly granted to other courts;
* Appeals Courts, which review judgments rendered (and facts found) by Courts of First Instance;
* the Supreme Court of Justice, comprised of nine judges, which is the country’s highest court and may review the legal conclusions (but not the facts) rendered by all other courts.
In addition, there are specialized courts that handle administrative, labor, traffic and land registration matters.
Unlike in the United States, there are no juries in the Dominican Republic; therefore, judges render all verdicts.
Since 1994, judges are appointed by the “National Council of Magistrates.” This new institution has its roots in the French judicial system and is intended to increase the independence of the judicial branch from the executive and legislative branches. The National Judicial Council guarantees the autonomy of the judicial branch.
The Country’s Developing Legal System
The law of the Dominican Republic is based primarily on the Napoleonic Codes, which were first introduced to the island by the French and adopted formally in 1884 as part of the nation’s legal system.
The Dominican Republic also has been influenced by other legal systems. The Land Registration Law, for instance, is based on legislation enacted in 1920 when United States military forces were in the country.
Trade With America And Other Countries
The United States is the major source of the Dominican Republic‘s international trade and investment. This is primarily because of:
* the Dominican Republic’s geographical proximity to the U.S.;
* the preferential commercial treatment granted to the country under the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), which makes the United States a potent market for Dominican products; and,
* the large number of Dominican immigrants living in the United States, who are a source of freely convertible currency.
The Dominican Republic also maintains important trading relations with all the countries in Latin America. Of particular significance to the Dominican economy are Mexico and Venezuela, which under the San José agreement, supply oil to the Dominican Republic at preferential rates.
Furthermore, the country has very good trading relations within the Caribbean Basin. The Santo Domingo Chamber of Commerce has organized the “Congress of Entrepreneurs in the Caribbean” to encourage the development of commercial relations within the Caribbean and to establish common strategies and agreements with the countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
The Dominican Republic has renewed its consular relations with Cuba and signed an immigration agreement with the Cuban government. The two islands also maintain an excellent cultural exchange.
The Dominican Republic expects its relationships and trade with Europe to continue to expand significantly. France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Britain have embassies in Santo Domingo, and eight European Chambers of Commerce work to encourage the development of trade and cooperation with the Dominican Republic.
Among Asian countries, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea have embassies in the Dominican Republic, which reflects their desire to promote economic and trading relations with the Dominican Republic. Other nations, such as Israel, also maintain very active embassies in the country, and Russia has now opened a consulate and created a Chamber of Commerce.