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Occupying the eastern half of the island of Hispaniola, the
(or the DR, as it's often known) is a hugely popular destination, thanks to the portion of the country that most resembles the image of a Caribbean playland: the crystal-clear waters and sandy beaches lined with palm trees, of which the DR has plenty. This vision of leisurely days spent by the sea and romantic nights filled with merengue and dark rum is supported by what turns out to be the largest all-inclusive resort industry in the world.
Set on the most geographically diverse Caribbean island, the DR also boasts virgin alpine wilderness, tropical rainforests and mangrove swamps, cultivated savannas, vast desert expanses and everything in between within its relatively small confines - slightly smaller than the US states of New Hampshire and Vermont combined - providing staggering opportunities for
The DR also lays claim to some of the more intriguing culture and history in the area, dating back to its early cave-dwelling groups, the
, who recorded much of their activities in the form of rock art - it's quite likely you'll find yourself clambering down a dark cave to view some of these preserved paintings during your stay. In addition, as Dominicans are often quick to point out, their land was the setting for Christopher Columbus's first colony, La Isabela, and Spain's first New World city,
, at the end of the fifteenth century. Though the island quickly lost this foothold, the events that took place during its brief heyday did much to define the Americas as we know them.
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