The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean's Greater Antilles archipelago. Hispaniola is one of only two Caribbean islands that are shared by two sovereign states, the other being Saint Martin. It shares the eastern five-eighths of the island with Haiti. With approximately 10.7 million people (2022 estimated), the Dominican Republic is the third-largest Antilles nation in terms of population and the second-largest by area (after Cuba) with 48,671 square kilometers (18,792 square miles). down from 10.8 million in 2020, with approximately 3.3 million living in the capital city's metropolitan area. Spanish is the country's native tongue.
Before the arrival of Europeans, the native Tano people divided Hispaniola into five chiefdoms. The Tanos also inhabited Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. They had established a sophisticated farming and hunting society and were on the verge of establishing themselves as an organized civilization. On his first voyage in 1492, the Genoese sailor Christopher Columbus explored the island and claimed it for Castile. The colony of Santo Domingo became the first permanent European settlement in the Americas and the first place where Spanish colonial rule was exercised in the New World. Additionally, it would be the location where enslaved African immigrants would be brought to the Americas. The western third of the island was given to France by Spain in 1697, and in 1804, Haiti became an independent nation.
The Dominican people declared independence in November 1821, after more than three hundred years of Spanish rule. José Nez de Cáceres, the leader of the independence movement, wanted the Dominican nation to join Gran Colombia, but Haiti annexed the newly independent Dominicans in February 1822. After securing victory in the Dominican War of Independence, independence was achieved 22 years later, in 1844. The Dominican Republic went through a majority of civil wars over the next 72 years, which were funded by loans from European merchants. It also went through several unsuccessful invasions by its neighbor Haiti and a brief return to Spanish colonial status before the Dominican War of Restoration in 1863–1865. Three presidents were killed during this time: Jose Antonio Salcedo in 1864, Ulises Heureaux in 1899, and Ramón in 1911.