Like many of the other Caribbean states, the Dominican
Republic is densely populated - in 2019 the average
population density was 219 residents per km2 -
and has a relatively high degree of urbanization (80
Many Dominicans emigrate to Puerto Rico or the United
States annually, usually illegally. At the same time, the
country receives thousands of Haitians annually. Many of the
Haitians live in difficult conditions. This situation
worsened further after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Countryaah, the country's capital Santo Domingo (2.6 million
residents, 2012) is the most dominant city. Other cities
include Santiago de los Caballeros (550 800).
For information on life expectancy and other demographic
statistics, see Country facts.
The official language is Spanish, which is also spoken by
most of the population. Hundreds of thousands of Haitian
immigrants and their descendants speak a French-based Creole
language. In the Dominican Republic, a slightly Creole form
of English is also used by descendants of freed American
slaves who in the 1820s immigrated to the urging of the
Haitian Occupation Force.
Christianity dominates and comprises 95 percent of the
population. The Catholic Church is the largest among the
Christian communities with over 80 percent of the population
as members. Protestants make up about 8 percent, and among
them, the seven-day Adventists are the most. Various
government sources state the number of Muslims is between
5,000 and 10,000. The country also has small groups of
Buddhists, Jews, Hindus and Baha'is. Some Christians,
however unclear, combine their faith with santería, magic
and / or voodoo.
In the current constitution, which is from 2010, in the
introduction God is invoked. The country's constitution and
other laws provide for religious freedom, which also works
in practice. The constitution does not specify state
religion, but in an agreement with the Vatican, Catholicism
is established as the official religion, which gives it
special privileges, such as state subsidies and customs
exemption. By law, Bible reading should be included in
school teaching, but this is not followed by all schools.
The following days are national religious holidays:
thirteenth day of Christmas, Good Friday and Corpus Christi,
and Día de la Altagracia (national holiday January
21 for the Dominicans protector, Virgin Mary) and Virgen
de la Merced / Nuestra Señora de Mercedes ('Virgin
Mary's Day', another maria day, September 24).