The capital of the country is the city of Santo Domingo, located in the southern part of the island. Originally a single city located within the province Distrito Nacional (National District), it has now been divided into the Province of Santo Domingo and the National District. The Province of Santo Domingo is comprised of several municipalities: Santo Domingo Norte (North Santo Domingo), Santo Domingo Este (East Santo Domingo, which is the provincial capital), Santo Domingo Oeste (West Santo Domingo) and Boca Chica. The Ozama River serves a natural border between the National District and the Province of Santo Domingo. Thus the capital city of the country is the city of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, Province of National District. The second largest city is Santiago de los Caballeros, more commonly referred to as simply Santiago.
The country has three major mountain ranges: the Central Mountains (Cordillera Central), which originate in Haiti and span the central part of the island, ending in the south. This mountain range boasts the highest peak in the Antilles, Pico Duarte (3,087 m / 10,128 ft above sea level). The Septentrional Mountains, running parallel to the Central Mountains, separate the Cibao Valley and the Atlantic coastal plains. The highest point in this range is Pico Diego de Ocampo. The lowest and shortest of the three ranges is the Eastern Mountains, in the eastern part of the country. Other mountains include the Sierra Bahoruco and the Sierra Neyba in the southwest.
The Dominican Republic has many rivers, including the navigable Soco, Higuamo, Romana (also known as 'Rio Dulce'), Yaque del Norte, Yaque del Sur, Yuna River, Yuma, and Bajabonico. Puerto Plata's Mount Isabela is infamous for the Cuban airplane that crashed there in 1992. The two largest islands, nearshore, are Saona Island in the southeast and Beata Island in the southwest. To the north, at a distance between 100 and 200 km, are three extensive, largely submerged banks, which geographically are a southeast continuation of the Bahamas.
The Dominican Republic uses its rivers and streams to create electricity, and many hydro-electric plants and dams have been created on rivers, including the Bao, Nizao, Ozama, and Higuamo.
ARTS, CULTURE, SPORTS
The spirit and charm of the Dominican Republic is captured in its music, food, and national pastimes. Known for its professional winter baseball, handcrafted cigars, and annual music festivals, the culture of the Dominican Republic is never stodgy, or boring. It's always an artful and colorful expression of life.
Even the museums and archeological sites are vibrant, bringing the daring history of the Dominican Republic alive with antique treasures, dazzling jewels, and the cavernous time capsules left to us by a long lost culture. In the Dominican Republic, culture really means adventure.
FOOD AND DRINK
Dominicans enjoy an array of foods as colorful as the landscape, but simple in taste. Women especially take pride in preparing enticing traditional dishes, layered with ingredients of the land. Inspiration for Dominican cuisine stems from native Antillean and hearty Creole recipes and is prepared similar to the dishes of Central and South America with rice, fish and other seafoods, meats or vegetables. Light spices or coconut add depth and warm the soul. Culinary specialties of the country vary from region to region, although residents of the Dominican Republic share a common hunger for its staple meals.
MUSIC AND DANCE
Passing through the streets of the Dominican Republic visitors are sure to notice the handmade posters that hang from telephone poles promoting an upcoming merengue or bachata night at a nearby venue. Continue walking and it doesn't take long to realize that music acts as the soundtrack of the country and its people, often heard blaring from vehicles, stores, restaurants and houses. After sunset, the pulsing beats fill the air with life and draw locals and tourists alike toward the crowded dance floors of the world's hottest night clubs. A way of life on the island, Dominicans view dancing as an art and take pride in sharing their native movements with others. Salsa, Latin jazz and other types of dance music can be heard in the country, but are not as popular as their beloved merengue and bachata counterparts.