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Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo (sänˈtō dōmēngˈgō) [key], former Spanish colony on the island of Hispaniola. The name has also been used for the Dominican Republic, and in early days it applied to Haiti. Columbus visited the island in 1492 and established a settlement on the northern coast, but when he returned in 1493, the settlers had vanished. He administered a new colony there until complaints against his rule caused him to be replaced (1500) by Francisco de Bobadilla. In 1509, Columbus's son Diego became governor. Failing to find mineral wealth in quantity, the colonists became farmers; the work was done for them under the encomienda system by the native Caribs. Before the adoption (1542) of the New Laws urged by Bartolomé de las Casas for protection of the Caribs, most of them had perished and the importation of black African slaves had been sanctioned. Santo Domingo was subject to frequent raids by English and French buccaneers. Although Spain nominally owned the whole island, European colonization had not been undertaken in the west; French buccaneers used the ports there (in present Haiti) as a rendezvous, and later French planters were able to establish settlements. In the latter half of the 18th cent. sugarcane was introduced, and sugar plantations became dominant. Unable to enforce its claims to the whole island, Spain ceded (1697) the western part (then called Saint-Domingue) to France and in 1795 gave up the whole island. Spanish rule was restored in the east when the inhabitants, aided by the British, rebelled against the French in 1808–9. The Spanish themselves were ousted in 1821; in 1822 the Haitians extended their rule over the entire island. The Haitians were driven out in 1844 and the Dominican Republic was proclaimed.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Caribbean Political Geography


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