Basic Facts Punta Cana
Palm trees dot the landscape, and Punta Cana is one of the most beautiful areas of the Dominican Republic. The many resorts located in Punta Cana include large number of new resorts that include spas, casinos, an amazing selection of dining options, on-site weddings, kids' clubs and swimming pools.
The Dominican Republic lies about 800 miles/1,280 kilometers southeast of Miami and is bordered in the Greater Antilles chain by Cuba to the West, and Puerto Rico to the East.
The island of Hispaniola, which the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti, totals some 48,482 square miles/126,053 square kilometers, making it the second-largest island in the Caribbean.
The Dominican Republic was discovered on December 5, 1492, by Christopher Columbus during his first voyage to the New World. At that time, the island of Hispaniola (as Columbus named it) was called "Quisqueya" by the Taino Indians who occupied the land. With a population estimated around 600,000, the Tainos (meaning "the good") were peaceful and hospitable to Columbus and his crew. Columbus had a particular fondness for Hispaniola, describing it in his journal as "a beautiful island paradise with high forested mountains and large river valleys."
Columbus' admiration for Hispaniola coupled with his crew's discovery of gold deposits in the island's rivers led to the establishment of European settlements, the first of which was founded in 1493 in La Isabela. With the presence of new settlements, the Taino Indians were enslaved and over the next 25 year were wiped out. At the same time, the settlers began bringing African slaves to the island to ensure adequate labour for their plantations.
Bartholomew, Columbus' brother, was appointed governor of Hispaniola and in 1496 and founded the city of Santo Domingo. The capital city quickly became the representative seat of the Spanish royal court and a city of power and influence.
When, by 1515, the gold deposits of Hispaniola have been virtually mined out, most of the Spanish residents left Santo Domingo for the newly discovered silver deposits on Mexico. Only a few thousand settlers stayed behind and these sustained themselves and their families by providing food and leather to Spanish ships passing Hispaniola on their way to the richer colonies on the American mainland. It is during this period, that the pirates of the Caribbean became part of the maritime history of this region.
The island of Hispaniola remained under Spanish control until 1697 when the western third of the island became a French possession. The French called this area Saint Domingue and it became the richest colony in the world due to the large sugar plantations, mainly worked by thousands of slaves imported from Africa. In 1791 a slave revolt broke out in Saint Domingue and becuase the French feared they may lose their colony to the slaves, they decided to abolish slavery in 1794.
In 1809 the eastern side of the island returned to Spanish rule and on February 27, 1844, the eastern side of the island declared independence and gave their land the name "Dominican Republic."