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Dominican Republic - Foreign Relations

The Dominican Republic has a close relationship with the United States and with the other states of the inter-American system. It has accredited diplomatic missions in most Western Hemisphere countries and in principal European capitals.

The Dominican Republic is a relatively small and weak country, heavily dependent on the outside world economically and strategically, and located in the center of what was an important area for Cold War conflict in the world — the volatile Caribbean. Because of these factors, various outside actors have long exercised a significant degree of influence in the island nation's internal politics.

In the early nineteenth century, the principal outside actors were Spain, France, and Britain; toward the end of the century, Germany and the United States had also become involved in Dominican affairs. The United States has remained a central actor in Dominican affairs ever since. In recent years, the economic importance of Europe has grown for the country, particularly because of increased European aid flows and the large number of Europeans who vacation in the country.

Because the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, and because Haiti represented a constant threat to the Dominican Republic both before and after the Haitian occupation of 1822-44, Haiti also has exerted significant influence.

Although the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, the two countries have a history of terse relations. A sizable Haitian migrant community resides in the Dominican Republic. Haiti’s political instability and the growing number of emigrants has prompted the Dominican Republic to examine relations with its neighbor. The two nations came close to war several times in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1986, the Dominican Republic closed its border with Haiti for more than a year due to civil unrest.

Newly elected president of Haiti René Préval made a working visit to Santo Domingo in March 2006, reciprocating Leonel Fernández's call on the Interim Government of Haiti in December 2005. The Dominican Government has regularly appealed for international support for its island neighbor.

There is a sizeable Haitian migrant community in the Dominican Republic, many of whom lack residence permits and citizenship documentation. The Dominican Republic is a founding member of the United Nations and participates in many of its specialized and related agencies, including the World Bank, International Labor Organization, International Atomic Energy Agency, and International Civil Aviation Organization. It is a member of the OAS and of the Inter-American Development Bank.

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