Dominican Republic - Introduction
Baseball is the country’s national sport. Dominicans perceive themselves to be cultured, particularly compared to neighboring Haitians. Generally, Dominicans can be characterized as friendly and gregarious.
The vision of the Dominican Republic for 2030 states that: "The Dominican Republic is a prosperous country, where people live with dignity, attached to ethical values and in the context of a participatory democracy that guarantees the social and democratic rule of law and promotes equity, equal opportunities, and social justice, and that manages and uses its resources to develop in an innovative, sustainable and territorially balanced and integrated way, competitively inserted into the global economy."
For the realization of this vision, the 2030 National Development Strategy (NDS) articulates public policy in several key areas of development. This strategy promotes the transformation of society to a culture of sustainable production and consumption, which manages risks with equity and efficiency, protection of the environment and natural resources, and promoting adequate climate change adaptation. This is a huge challenge given national circumstances, territorial conditions and environmental features that add to and exacerbate the challenges imposed by climate change.
Military and police road blocks are common, especially in the areas near the Haitian border. They often appear very informal though the soldiers do wear army uniform and carry weapons. Drivers are sometimes coerced into handing a small amount of money over before being allowed to continue their journey.
Political demonstrations can occur across the country, but are most common in and around the cities of Santiago, Salcedo, Bonao, and Santo Domingo. Demonstrations have affected traffic and essential services in the past. In 2015, there were multiple protests throughout the country over social and economic issues such as salary increases for public employees, other labor disputes, corruption, as well as statelessness and problems with the civil registry system. In several instances, police were unsuccessful in managing the protests without turning to violence. Isolated incidents of intra-party political violence among political candidates and party members were reported in the lead up to the May 2016 elections.
Driving conditions vary across the country because of frequent disconcerting and dangerous patterns that include: driving at night without lights; missing manhole covers and large potholes; uneven road surfaces; scooters and motorcycles splitting lanes; driving on sidewalks; driving against traffic; a lack of stop signs at intersections; regularly “squeezing” four lanes of traffic where only two are intended; failure to adhere to speed limits or disregard for stop lights; and heavy urban traffic. Motorcycles and motor scooters are common, and they are often driven erratically.
Dominican Republic is subject to hurricanes and associated landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services and infrastructure. The hurricane season is June to November but tropical storms and hurricanes can occur in other months. The direction and strength of hurricanes can change with little warning. The wet season is from May to November. Heavy rainfalls can cause landslides and mudslides, often with devastating effect on people, property, local infrastructure and essential services. Mudslides and road collapses caused by heavy rains are common and roads may be closed at short notice, especially during the hurricane seasons.
Public transportation consists primarily of “guaguas” - privately owned buses or vans that serve as share taxis. “Guaguas” run regular routes within urban areas and between towns in the countryside. The public buses and guaguas operating in the capital are not considered reliable or safe. Many unregulated taxis operating throughout the country lack basic safety features and should be avoided.
According to the 2015 World Health Organisation Global Status Report on Road Safety, an estimated 3,052 people were killed in the Dominican Republic - approximately 10 times more than the UK per capita rate.
The Dominican Republic is friendly and welcoming, but suffers from a high crime rate, ranging from opportunistic crime like bag-snatching and pick-pocketing, to violent crime. There is a high rate of crime in the Dominican Republic. Violent crime also occurs. Violent crime has occurred in popular tourist areas. Victims have been injured when resisting perpetrators. Female travellers are particularly at risk, including because of the incidence of aggressive sexual behaviour and sexual assault towards foreign women. Incidents of drink spiking at bars and other entertainment venues have occurred, often resulting in theft and assault.
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