In 2019, the Dominican Republic celebrates 175 years of independence. When Christopher Columbus first arrived on the island, then Hispaniola, the native residents were thriving, yet were shortly decimated by Spanish disease and slavery. Spanish and French colonists continued to move to Hispaniola, bringing with them thousands of slaves. When the French colonies declared their independence in 1804, they became the Republic of Haiti. Not long after, the Spanish colonists declared their own independence in 1821, becoming the Dominican Republic. Afterward, Haiti invaded the new neighboring country, until Dominican autonomy was reclaimed in 1844.
Fast-forward into the future and the Dominican Republic is one of the Caribbean’s most-visited destinations, but mostly for winter-escaping beach bums who want to visit an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana and, well, stay there. While the all-you-can-eat buffets, endless drinks and perfectly-curated schedules at all-inclusive resorts are nice, there’s so much more to see in the Dominican Republic beyond the walls of your favorite hideaway.
Check out 14 reasons to visit the Dominican Republic this year. None of them are walled-in, all-inclusive resorts, but all of them are well worth the effort to get out of your comfort zone and see this beautiful country for all it offers, just in time for its 175th anniversary of independence.