After several thousand years of habitation by different Indigenous cultures, Hispaniola became the first land colonized by Columbus. The colony was ruled by Spain from the late 15th century to the early 19th century. The country's history has seen some of the bloodiest years of occupation, civil war, and political strife anywhere in the Americas. An independent nation since 1844, the Dominican Republic's contemporary third world status, as well as its cultural dynamism, is reflected in its rich and tragic history.


7000(?)-4000 B.C. Indigenous Archaic peoples with Central American origins first inhabit island today called "Hispaniola".

c.a. 4000 B.C. Mid-Caribbean island chain intermittingly connecting Hispaniola and other Greater Antilles islands with Central America submerged by melting glaciers and rising seas.

4000 B.C.-A.D. 600= Archaic Indian hunter-gatherer cultures flourish on Hispaniola.

c.a. A.D. 600 = Agriculturalist Arahuacan-speaking "Ostionoid" peoples, or Taino Indians, first inhabit island.

A.D. 800-1492= Chiefdom-level Taino Indian cultures flourish; several million Indians inhabit the island they call "Quisqueya" or "Haiti" at Spanish contact.

5 December,1492= Columbus spots island that evokes in him images of both Spain and God's paradise on earth; names island "Hispaniola" or "little Spain".

24 December,1492= Columbus' Santa Maria, runs aground on the north coast of Haiti; ship salvaged into a fortress called La Navidad; 39 Spaniards left behind.

1493= Columbus returns to find La Navidad destroyed and all 39 men dead (early evidence of Taino resistence to Spanish rule); undaunted, Columbus founds La Isabella on north coast of Dominican Republic.

1495= Under the leadership of a Taino chief called Caonabo, the Spanish fortress of Santo Tomas de Janico is destroyed.

1495-1550= Taino Indians subjected to Spanish "encomienda" and "repartamiento" systems of rule, spelling both holocaust to their traditional lifeways, and, along with the incorporation of African culture vis-a-vis imported slaves, a process of transculturation/ creolization is begun.

1498= La Isabella abandoned; Bartholomew Columbus founds capital of Santa Domingo on south coast.

1697= Treaty of Ryswick formally divides the island into French and Spanish possessions.

1795= The eastern portion of the island ceded to France as part of the Treaty of Basel.

1804= Haitian revolution and formation of the Republic of Haiti, the eastern portion of the island occupied and then surrendered.

1809= Spanish defeat the French at the Battle of Palo Hincado and reassert control over the eastern colony.

1822= After a declaration to create the independent state of Spanish Haiti, Haitian troops invade and occupy the entire island for 22 years.

27 February,1844= Dominican independence from Haiti under the leadership of founding fathers Juan Pablo Duarte, Ramon Matias Mella, and Francisco del Rosario Sanchez President of the Dominican Republic, Pedro Santana, allows country to be annexed to Spain.

1861- Dominican Republic annexed to Spain.

1863-1865= War against Spain for the restoration of the Dominican Republic..

1916-1924= United States invasion, occupation, and establishment of a military government.

1930-1961= Era of dictator Rafael Leonides Trujillo, who runs country until his assasination.

1965= United States invasion quelling a civil war after the C.I.A. supported coup of elected socialist/nationalist president Juan Bosch.

1966= New constitution adopted; Joaquin Balaguer, who worked under the Trujillo regime, elected president.

1994= Balaguer re-elected to a sixth term.

Author: Dr. Peter Ferbel (Ph.D., University of Minessota U.S.A.)

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