The Dominican Republic is a Spanish-speaking nation located in the Caribbean Sea on the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with French-speaking Haiti. Major exports include sugar, coffee, baseball players, and merengue music.
The Dominican Republic is often thought of as an impoverished nation, which was largely true for decades, but in recent years it has become increasingly prosperous now that its leaders have finally woken up and realized that it is a Caribbean island after all, and started to develop a lucrative tourism industry. According to the US State Department, the Dominican Republic now has the largest economy of any nation in the entire Caribbean region and all of Central America. Not too shabby, especially compared to the endless disaster that is neighboring Haiti.
Historically, Hispaniola is known as the one of the islands Christopher Columbus visited on his voyages to the "New World," where he enslaved and murdered many of the local Taíno natives while simultaneously decimating them with smallpox. For more than three centuries thereafter, the area now known as the Dominican Republic was a Spanish colony, later conquered by the French and Haitians, before declaring independence in 1844. Thereafter, it was often under the thumb of US imperialism and US-backed dictators, before finally emerging from under the cloud of US meddling as a reasonably functional democracy in the late 1990s. Today, the nation has generally free and fair elections, although the state still dominates large segments of the economy and corruption at the lower levels of the government remains a problem, enduring legacies of decades of dictatorship.