Santo Domingo (City) or Santo Domingo de Guzmán

Santo Domingo de Guzmán GuideSanto Domingo the administrative capital

Santo Domingo de Guzmán (known as Santo Domingo) has a population of 2,061,200 (2003), estimated 2,253,437 in 2006, and is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic.

The city is located at 18°29′N, 69°55′W in the Caribbean Sea at the mouth of the Ozama River.

It is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas, and was the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World .

In 1930, the city of Santo Domingo was almost completely demolished by a tropical hurricane called San Zenon.

Dictator Rafael Trujillo, the incumbent at the time, reconstructed the city and named it Ciudad Trujillo after himself. After his assassination in 1961, Ciudad Trujillo became Santo Domingo de Guzman as today’s actual name.

Santo Domingo de Guzman is within the boundaries of the Distrito Nacional and the Santo Domingo Province surrounds it. In 2001, a law was approved making Santo Domingo de Guzmán (The City & D.N) less than 200 km² in size, making it the smallest administrative division in the country.

Santo Domingo de Guzmán from the sky

Santo Domingo city seen from the sky


Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Taíno Indians populated the island they called Quisqueya (mother of all lands) or what is known today as Hispaniola, including the part now occupied by Haiti.
At the time, the island was governed by a system of Casicazgo (chieftains) consisting of five divisions; Marien, Magua, Maguana, Jaragua and Higuey by caciques (chiefs) like Guacanagarix, Maireni, Macorix, Caonabo, Enriquillo, Hatuey among others.

Bartholomew Columbus, brother of Christopher Columbus, founded the settlement and named it after Saint Dominic, which is today the oldest European city in the New World. In reality, the city dates back to 1496, the period when the first Europeans settled there, although it was officially founded on August 5, 1498.

Governor general Nicolás de Ovando arrived in 1502 with a fleet of 30 ships and 2,500 men. Santo Domingo was destroyed by a hurricane shortly after his arrival and he had it rebuilt on a different site nearby. The original layout of the city and a large portion of its defensive wall can still be appreciated today throughout the Colonial Zone, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990.

The Colonial Zone, bordered by the Río Ozama also has an impressive collection of 16th century buildings, including palatial houses and majestic churches that reflect the architectural style of the late medieval period.

The city’s most important colonial buildings include :

  • The Catedral Santa María La Menor (Catedral Primada de América), which is the first Catholic cathedral in America;

  • The Alcázar de Colón, once the residence of Don Diego Colón, the son of Christopher Columbus who became viceroy of the colony;

  • The Monasterio de San Francisco, the ruins of the first monastery in America;

  • Tthe Museo de las Casas Reales, the former Palace of the Governor General and the Palace of Royal Audiences;

  • The Parque Colón, a historic square;

  • The Fortaleza Ozama, the oldest fortress in America;

  • The Pantéon Nacional, a former Jesuit edifice now hosting the remains of various renown members of the Dominican Order;

  • The Iglesia del Convento Dominico, the first convent in America.

Throughout its first century, Santo Domingo was the launching pad for much of the exploration and conquest of the New World. The expeditions that led to Ponce de Leon’s discovery of Puerto Rico, Hernando Cortes’ conquest of Mexico and Balboa’s sighting of the Pacific Ocean all started from Santo Domingo.

In 1586, Francis Drake invaded and pillaged the Hispaniola.
This so weakened Spanish dominion over the island that for more than 50 years all but the capital was abandoned and left to the mercy of the pirates. In 1655, the French invaded the west end of the island, and after several treaties and forced annexations, the portion of the island controlled by Santo Domingo was reduced to less than half.

Later on, in 1822, the Haitians, commanded by Jean-Pierre Boyer, took over the entire island, and the island’s Spanish-speaking residents had to fight for their lost independence and survival.

Finally, on February 27, 1844, the Spanish part of the island regained its independence after 22 years of Haitian rule due to a group of patriots headed by Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez and Ramón Matías Mella, being the Puerta del Conde the main scenario of this relevant event. It was then when the Spanish part of the island became the country known today as the Dominican Republic.

After independence was achieved, various political factions struggled for control of Santo Domingo. In addition to this instability, the country had to fight continuous Haitian incursions, which were in their totality defeated. In 1861, the Spanish returned to Santo Domingo and annexed the country for four years; this period is known as the Anexión a España.

After that, Santo Domingo went through many power changes, including the 20th century Trujillo dictatorship (established after the 1916–1924 occupation by U.S. Marines), which lasted from 1930 to 1961 and ended with the execution of the dictator (during this time Santo Domingo was known officially as Ciudad Trujillo); as well as the multiple presidencies of Joaquin Balaguer, who governed the country for 22 years. These civil wars and political struggles marked the first 70 years of the country’s independence.

The year 1992 marked the 500th anniversary, El Quinto Centenario, of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America. The Columbus Lighthouse (Faro a Colón), with an approximate cost of 400 million Dominican pesos, was erected, amidst great controversy, in honor of this occasion.

There are some museums dedicated to the history of the Dominican Republic, the Museo de las Casas Reales is dedicated to the colonial period; while the soon-to-be renovated Museo de Historia y Geografía is dedicated to the Dominican history prior the Discovery up to contemporary times. The history of the Independence is summarized in the Museo y Casa de Duarte and the Altar de la Patria.

The cobblestone streets and late medieval architecture of the Western Hemisphere’s first city let visitors glimpse the colonial past as vibrant nightlife, warm beaches and up-market resorts take historic Santo Domingo into its future.


Santo Domingo is located on the south central coast of the island of Hispaniola where it meets the Caribbean Sea. This position was of great importance to the city’s economic development and the growth of trade during colonial times. The Ozama River, located to the east of the city, is where the country’s busiest port is located.

Metropolitan Santo Domingo is divided into four municipal Sections mostly for administrative reasons. These sections are Santo Domingo Norte, Santo Domingo Este, Santo Domingo Oeste, which all together make part of the Santo Domingo province and Santo Domingo de Guzman which is within the D.N boundaries, all of which have different administrative orders.

Santo Domingo to the north has the section of Villa Mella (Municipal District) which makes part of Santo Domingo Norte (Municipal Section). To the east it has San Isidro(Municipal District) and to the west it borders Province of San Cristobal and Bajos de Haina. The Ozama River and Isabella end at the Center of Santo Domingo. Santo Domingo is relatively low in altitude with several high hills.


The average temperature varies little in the city, because the tropical tradewinds help mitigate the heat and humidity throughout the year. December and January are the coolest months and July and August are the warmest. Santo Domingo and the rest of the country are in the Caribbean and have a tropical climate, which makes them very vulnerable to hurricanes.


The economy of Santo Domingo has a GDP(PPP) of US $30 to 45 $ billion and is mainly supported by services and manufacturing. Santo Domingo, as the capital of the Dominican Republic, has been experiencing great economic growth and development. Urban growth is most noticeable with the construction of skyscrapers, shopping malls, improvement in the road network and increased commercial activity.

As one of the largest cities in the Caribbean, it has the highest availability of services and most of the nation’s companies have their national headquarters in the city.
Santo Domingo de Guzmán enjoys the highest standard of living in the nation, often resembling those of a developed nation, but poverty can still be seen along the marginalized areas of the city. Many people from rural areas have been periodically moving into the city in search for job opportunities and thus forming what is known as the immigration belt, which surrounds the developed area of the city. Santo Domingo is considered a city of economic contrast in the same way as much of the cities in Latin America.

Government and Politics

Santo Domingo is the center of the national government of the Dominican Republic. The National Palace, which is the President’s office, as well as the National Congress, are located in the metropolitan area.

The current mayor of the City of Santo Domingo is Roberto Esmérito Salcedo of the governing Dominican Liberation Party. The City is administered by the Ayuntamiento del Distrito Nacional (City Hall), which is responsible for municipal functions. The « Policia Naciona » and Policia Turística (POLITUR) are assigned for enforcing city safety.


There are eighteen universities in Santo Domingo, the highest number of any city in the Dominican Republic. Established in 1538, Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) is the oldest university in the New World and is also the only public university in the city. Santo Domingo holds the nation’s highest percentage of residents with a higher education degree.


Public transport

The main public transportation system is managed by the Oficina Metropolitana de Servicios de Autobuses (OMSA), which is funded by the government. Buses without air conditioning cost $5DOP (Dominican Peso), roughly $.17USD [1USD-33DOP], whereas buses with air conditioning cost $10 DOP and tend to be more comfortable and less crowded. There are also express buses that only stop at major transportation hubs.


There are 5 major highways in the Dominican Republic that link the city to different areas in the country. DR-1 is the longest, connecting Santo Domingo to Santiago de los Caballeros and other cities in the north. DR-2 connects the city to the southwestern region of the island. DR-3 connects the city of Santo Domingo with the eastern region of the country, which is where most tourist hotels and resorts are found.

Rail transport

The Santo Domingo Metro is a 15km underground and elevated system consisting of three proposed lines. The first line is currently under construction and crosses the Santo Domingo province from north to south.
This line will begin elevated at Villa Mella (Santo Domingo Norte), located north of the Isabela River and north of the city center and will terminate at Centro de los Héroes in the southern coast of Santo Domingo, near the seawall district (Malecon).

Some of the stops on the first line will be the Teatro Nacional Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) and Avenida Lincoln.The second line is proposed to run in an east-west direction beneath Avenida 27 de Febrero, crossing the first line. The third line will also run in an east-west direction, but it will run beneath Avenida John F. Kennedy.

The first line is expected to be completed for February 27, 2008, but not available to the public until late June 2008. Presently around 75% of the physical construction is done and the viaduct is almost completely finished.
The Charles de Gaulle station will be named after Dominican martyr Florinda Soriano Muñoz (Mamá Tingó).


  • Las Américas International Airport

Santo Domingo is served by two international airports, the main one being Las Américas International Airport JFPG. The airport has two terminals, the newer one just completed in 2006 added four more gates on the northern end of the facility. The airport is currently the busiest in the country, handling over 2.5 million passengers per year.

  • La Isabela International Airport

The Aeropuerto Internacional La Isabela is a secondary, newly constructed airport located in the northern section of the city, within kilometres of the city center. It is not currently used as a major international airport, servicing mostly domestic and charter flights. It was built to replace the obsolete Herrera Airport, which was considered by many too dangerous due to the proximity to commercial and residential areas. Many pilots also cited the length of the runway as inadequate for most private jets.


Santo Domingo is home to the Leones del Escogido and Tigres del Licey baseball clubs of the Dominican Winter League. Estadio Quisqueya serves as the home stadium for both teams. Baseball is the most popular sport in the city, however, basketball, tennis, golf and other sports are played as well. Centro Olimpico Juan Pablo Duarte is the central sports complex of the city, located at the center of the city. Estadio Quisqueya is undergoing an expansion and re-construction project for the 2008-09 Winter League Season.

They are several Sporting Clubs in the city of Santo Domingo (Private). The most popular are Club Arroyo Hondo, Club Naco, Club Paraiso, Club los Prados and the Santo Domingo Tennis Club which is a very popular tennis center.

Source : Wikipedia

The Postal Code of Santo Domingo

The postal code of Santo Domingo depends of the sectors :

New National District: from 10100 to 10699

Santo Domingo West : from 10700 to 11199

Santo Domingo North : from 11200 to 11499

Santo Domingo East : from 11500 to 11999

Postal Code of Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo city from the space, May 1992

Santo Domingo city from the space, May 1992

Plaza Colón

Plaza Colón

Exterior view of the Cathedral of Santo Domingo

Exterior view of the Cathedral of Santo Domingo

Interior view of the Cathedral of Santo Domingo

Interior view of the Cathedral of Santo Domingo

In the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo

In the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo

In the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo

In the Colonial Zone of Santo Domingo

Independence Plaza of Santo Domingo

Independence Plaza of Santo Domingo

The Conde Street in Santo-Domingo

The Conde Street in Santo-Domingo

A map of Santo Domingo

A map of Santo Domingo in 1671

> A map of San Domingo

A map of San Domingo in 1730