Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Santo Domingo (also called Hispaniola) in the Greater Antilles. It is the second largest nation in the Caribbean, with a territory of 48,442 Km². It is situated in the heart of the Caribbean region, with the Atlantic Ocean to the north and the Caribbean Sea to the south. It is east of Jamaica, west of Puerto Rico, with the 70-mile Mona Passage between the two islands, and 685 miles south of the Southernmost tip of Florida.
Four almost parallel mountain ranges, covered with thick vegetation, cross the country from east to west. The largest is the Cordillera Central, which divides the country into almost equal parts. The highest peak in the Antilles, Pico Duarte (10,206 feet), is in this range. To the north is the Cordillera Septentrional and to the south is the Sierra Bahoruco.
The Valley of the Cibao (which in native language means land between mountains), located between the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera Septentrional, is the largest and most important valley due to the agricultural activity that takes place in the region. Columbus named the area The Vega Real (Royal Plain) and it is often referred to as the “Garden of the Antilles”. It is the island’s granary, producing fruits, vegetables, and sugar cane. Its grassy savannahs afford excellent pasturage.
The capital city, Santo Domingo, is located on the southern coast. The humid eastern section of this region contains large forests and savannas, while the western half is mostly dry and arid. It is in this region where the Lago Enriquillo (Lake Enriquillo) is located. It is a salt water lake below sea level. The area is rich in salt, bauxite and marble.
The Dominican Republic’s second city and learning center is in Santiago, in the Cibao plain. This city, situated on a high bluff on the Yaque del Norte river, was founded in 1500.
The Dominican Republic has severals seaports, including Punta Caucedo, Santo Domingo, Haina, La Romana, San Pedro de Macorís, Puerto Plata, and Monte Cristi.