The Dominican Republic


The Dominican Republic (DR) occupies the eastern 2/3 of the island of Hispaniola, the second largest island in the Caribbean, which lies between Cuba and Puerto Rico The DR shares the island with Haiti, although the cultures of the two countries are very different. The DR has a Spanish heritage and Spanish is the language throughout the country.

Population of the country is about 10 million. The capital, Santo Domingo, dates from the days of Columbus and has almost 3 million people. Other large cities include Santiago and San Jose. San Pedro de Macoris is a port city of about 100,000 a few miles east of Santo Domingo on the Caribbean coast. Colegio Kids currently works primarily in the area of San Pedro.

The Dominican people are very open and friendly. Average income is about $150 US per month, so material possessions are not an important part of the culture.  

The major industry in the country is tourism. The country has hundreds of miles of beaches and many excellent resorts. Tourism has mainly catered to Europeans, but is becoming popular with Americans as well. Industry in free trade zones is a close second, while agriculture is close behind. Sugar cane, coffee, cacao, cotton, tobacco, rice, potatoes, corn, bananas and milk are  the major products. Green vegetables, pineapples and flowers are becoming of importance. Other industries include sugar production, mining and tobacco processing.

Facts of the Dominican Republic

República Dominicana (Dominican Republic)
Capital City: Santo Domingo
Area: 18,704 sq miles
Ethnicities: 73% mixed, 16% White (Spaniards, French, Italians, others), 11% Black
Population: 10,090,000
Language: Spanish (official)
Religion: 88% Roman Catholic
Currency: Dominican Republic Peso (RD$)
Exchange: 36 pesos to the US dollar


  • In a 2008 study of academic achievement for third and sixth grade students, the Dominican Republic came in dead last in the areas of Math, Reading and Science, significantly lower than the other 16 Latin American countries participating (UNESCO, SERCE 2008).
  • The Dominican Republic’s public investment in education is 1.2% of their Gross Domestic Product. (UNESCO 2007 Education For All Global Monitoring Report).
  • 85% of poor Dominican parents have never completed primary education.
  • In the Dominican Republic, “according to a cohort analysis, of 100 children entering formal education, only 75 complete grade 4; 63 complete grade 6 and only 52 complete the 8-year primary level. This situation is even worse in rural areas where most schools stop at grade 5.” [OECD 2008]
  • A Dominican student entering the system has less than a 10% chance of graduating from high school.
  • An estimated 40 percent of the population is under 15 years old.
  • The death rate of children under the age of 5 was 32 for each 1,000 newborns in 2004.
  • The HIV/AIDS rate among the adult population in the DR is 1.1 percent, although it is much higher in rural batey communities.


Data from UNICEF, World Bank, United Nations, OECD, Wikipedia, USAID Basic Education and Policy Support and American Association of Fundraising Counsel,  Programa de Promoción de la Reforma Educativa de América Latina y el Caribe (PREAL), December 2006; United Nations (UN), 2005; United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 2004; Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), 2008.