The Dominican Republic is the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, and became the first point of colonization in the Western Hemisphere by explorers from Europe. Present-day Dominican Republic has the first cathedral, university, road, and fortress of the Americas, and Santo Domingo was the first city founded there. Santo Domingo was also the first capital in the Americas
Christopher Columbus explored Hispaniola during his first voyage to America in 1492. The inhabitants whom Columbus encountered on his arrival in Hispaniola were Arawak-speaking Taíno people who had previously settled there. The Taíno lived in villages, headed by chiefs, and engaged principally in farming and fishing. By the mid-1500s the Taíno people had died out as a result of smallpox and brutal treatment by the Spanish settlers who tried to enslave them. Hispaniola became a springboard for Spanish conquest of the Caribbean mainland.
Creation of the Republic
Spain ceded the colony of Santo Domingo (the eastern two-thirds of Hispaniola) to France in 1795. In the 1790s slaves in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) staged a revolt led by Toussaint Louverture. In 1801, Toussaint Louverture captured the former Spanish Colony of Santo Domingo (which became the Dominincan Republic). He then unified French and Spanish Haiti into Haiti (which is the old Arawak Indian name for Hispaniola. By 1808 after various degrees of instability Santo Domingo reverted to Spanish rule. Two years later in 1810 the French finally leave Santo Domingo.