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The Dominican Republic is a country which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Hispaniola is located in the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean. It is one of only two islands which have two different countries on them. The Dominican Republic is approximately five-eights of the island, leaving three-eighths of the island to Haiti.

The capital of the Dominican Republic is Santo Domingo.

Christopher Columbus arrived on the island, which he named La Española, on December 5, 1492. He was warmly greeted by the native Taínos in general and by Guacanagarí, who was one of the five local caciques (or tribal chiefs) specifically. In a short period of time, Columbus and Guacanagarí came to trust one another.

On Christmas Eve, 1492, Columbus and his crew were en route to Spain, but just off the coast of what is now Haiti, his ship, the Santa Maria, ran aground onto a sandbank.

He and the crew returned to Santo Domingo and soon built Fort Navidad from the timbers of the shipwrecked Santa Maria. He had to go back to Spain to get more provisions as well as more financing, and he was going to bring some of the island natives with him to help him get financing. With the Santa Maria gone, he had to settle for a smaller ship. Because there was not enough room for everyone, he left 39 of his crew behind.

In Columbus's absence, his crew had repeatedly raped local women, and the Tainos were understandably angry about it. The Tainos killed all 39 of the men in raids on the settlement.

When Columbus returned to Hispaniola, he Columbus spoke about the massacre with his friend Guacanagarí, and the chieftain blamed a rival chief named Caonabo. In what he thought was retaliation for the the deaths of his crew, Columbus and his men attacked Caonabo and his cohorts, taking many of his people as slaves.

Columbus established the colony of Santo Domingo on the island in 1493. Santo Domingo was the first permanent European settlement in the Americas and was the first seat of Spanish rule in the New World. It is also the oldest consistently lived-in city.

It was not long after his arrival that the relationship between the Taino and the Europeans began to deteriorate, due largely to mistreatment including theft and abuse of the Taino women.

In 1495, the formerly peaceful Indians rebelled and were quickly crushed.

Columbus, who was the royal governor until 1495, tried to stop the abuses among his people and to that end he making foraging expeditions, which had led to thievery by his men, illegal.

In the 1530s, a Taino cacique named Enriquillo led 3,000 Taino in a revolt in Hispaniola. This time, the Taino effort was successful, though it took fourteen years. The royal administration offered Enriquillo a peace treaty. They also gave them land and a charter. But then, they were required to work for land owners in exchange for a salary and language and religious teachings. This was part of a labor system which originated in Spain, called "encomienda."

In the encomienda, the Spanish government would grant land and money to people with local authority from the community. These people, called encomenderos, would protect those under their supervision from pirates and warring tribes and the like. They would also ensure that rebellions were suppressed. Additionally, they would make sure that the natives under their supervision were given Christian education and Spanish language instruction. They were also tasked with facilitating the transfer of tribute, in the form of metal and agricultural products, to the Spanish Crown.

In 1501, the Spanish Crown granted permission to the Spanish colonists in the Caribbean to import African slaves from Spain, and they began arriving in Hispaniola in 1503. In 1510, a large shipment of 250 slaves made it into port from Spain. Columbus introduced sugar cane from the Canary Islands on his second voyage from Spain and the New World's first sugar mill was founded in 1516. In 1518, African slaves arrived, and over the next twenty years, a steady stream of slaves were sent to Hispaniola to help in the fields, and in other parts of the industry.

The first slave revolt in the New World erupted in 1522 when enslaved Wolof Muslims rose up in the sugar plantation belonging to Christopher Columbus's son Don Diego Colon. May of the escaped slaves made it to the mountains, and there they formed independent communities made up of other escaped slaves, called maroons.

The French got control of Hispaniola in 1795 under the terms of the Treaties of Basel, and in 1802, the revolted and in 1803, they were victorious. Control of the island went back and forth until 1821 when the Dominicans declared their independence after more than 300 years of Spanish rule.



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