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The Dominican Republic lies on the east of the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago. The western part of Hispaniola is occupied by Haiti.

The Taíno Arawaks had inhabited Hispaniola since the 7th century when Columbus landed in 1492 and Santo Domingo, the country’s capital, became the first permanent European settlement in America.

After over 300 years of colonial rule, mostly by the Spanish but with short French and Haitian periods, it gained independence from Spain in 1821 as Spanish Haiti. The new country was absorbed into Haiti where slavery had been abolished. However, in 1844 dissidents in Santo Domingo wishing to retain slavery, declared unilateral independence.

Owing to repeated invasions by Haiti the country reverted to colonial status under Spain in 1861 but, under protest from Haiti and the USA, Spain left again in 1865. Independence was finally recognized by Haiti in 1874.

Subsequently the USA occupied it between 1916 and 1924. A civil war began in 1965 but this ended after another brief occupation by the USA, which had feared a Cuban-style revolution.

The Republic has the second largest economy in Central America. Though associated with agriculture and mining it is now dominated by services. Mass illegal Haitian immigration is a major issue.

Hispaniola is part of the Caribbean island arc. It is volcanically inactive but subject to continued faulting. There are 4 mountain ranges running through the island divided by fertile valleys containing Tertiary sediments. The Caribbean Coastal Plain stretches north and east of Santo Domingo whilst the Azua Coastal Plain is an arid region in Azua Province west of Santo Domingo.

The country produced very small amounts of oil from the Azua Tertiary Basin in 1904, for two years from 1920, and then again in 1940 and 1941. The Enriquillo basin in the southwest of the country, and the site of gas seeps, has also been explored but without success. Other areas have seen the occasional well and have also been reported as yielding oil and gas seeps.

Due to a shortage of seals to reservoirs in these basins, the country now has no identified indigenous oil or gas resources, either onshore or offshore. Globalshift believes it is unlikely to achieve any significant new commercial production in the short and medium term.


Map and National Flag



Central America

Dominican Republic

E and P


Oil and gas summary



Land area (sq kms)

Oil prod (000s b/d)

Gas prod (bcm/yr)

Oil cons (000s b/d)

Gas cons (bcm/yr)


Santo Domingo

10 mm






Brief history of the country

The Dominican Republic is a representative democracy. The President heads the executive branch and executes laws passed by the Congress, appoints the Cabinet, and is commander in chief of the armed forces.

The national legislature is bicameral, composed of a 32-member Senate and 178-member Chamber of Deputies.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines is responsible for licensing exploration blocks.

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