The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola the second largest in the Caribbean (Greater Antilles). Haiti occupies the remaining one third. Hispaniola (what means Little Spain) lies between Cuba and Puerto Rico. It boasts the Caribbean's highest peak, the Pico Duarte 3175 m/ 10,400 ft.
Christopher Columbus discovered the island and founded the first settlement during his famous first voyage in 1492. Later the island became a Spanish colony of Santo Domingo. The Spanish built their economical system using the Taíno Indians (first inhabitants) as evangelized slaves. Forty years after the Columbus' discovery only 500 Indians were still alive (from more then 300,000). Black slaves were later imported to take the place of the Taino laborers. After many turbulent years, in 1844 the Dominican Republic proclaimed independence.