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Obverse of 1972 Dominican Republic Silver Un Peso
Obverse of 1972 Dominican Republic Silver Un Peso

Mint Building on Reverse of 1972 Dominican Republic Silver Un Peso
Reverse of 1972 Dominican Republic Silver Un Peso

A Brief History of Dominican Republic
Not to be confused with Dominica, the Dominican Republic was one of Spain's oldest colonies in America, and features the America's oldest university, cathedral and fortress. Its capital is Santo Domingo. It shares the island of La Hispaniola with Haiti, a separate sovereign state.

Pre-Colonial History
The original inhabitants of the island, of which comparatively little is known, were displaced by Taino Arawaks in around the 7th Century AD. The Caribs arrived in around the 12th Century AD, challenging the Taino for dominance of the island.
By the time the Spanish arrived towards the end of the 15th Century, the Taino were in the process of being wiped out by the Carib Amerindians, as had been the case in most places everywhere else in the Caribbean.

Spanish Colonisation
La Hispaniola was one of the first lands in the Americas to be discovered by Europeans, and was visited by Christopher Columbus on his initial voyage to the Americas. He gave the island its name and the island was settled just 4 years later by Bartholomew Columbus, Christopher's younger brother. The city of Santo Domingo was founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1496, and is consequently the oldest European settlement in the Americas.
The Spanish developed La Hispaniola as a plantation economy, growing tobacco, sugar and other crops, worked on by slaves gathered amongst the native population and later from Africa.
However, as Spanish Colonists discovered mineral riches in South America, they focused their energies there, and began to neglect La Hispaniola and other Caribbean colonies. In 1695, following the conclusion of the 9 years’ war, Spain was willing to cede the western half of La Hispaniola France, which became Haiti. The Eastern Half, known as Santo Domingo, remained in Spanish Hands.
Although the Spanish settlement eventually destroyed the local Amerindian culture, the Spanish settlers took to marrying local Amerindians, and so the genetic lineage of the Dominican Republic's original inhabitants was preserved.

End of Spanish Rule
During the Napoleonic Wars, the Spain ceded the entire island to France following Spain's defeat by the French Republic in 1795. However, an 1801 revolt in Haiti succeeded in driving the French from the island. A French expedition succeeded in capturing Santo Domingo, but they were unable to recapture the Haitian Capital St Dominique. An 1808 Revolt in Santo Domingo returned the province to Spanish control.
However, the years of neglect rankled with the local population, and in 1821, as revolution swept through Spain's colonies in South America, the Spanish Colonial administration in Santo Domingo declared independence and renamed the colony as 'Spanish Haiti' attempts to make Spanish Haiti part of 'Gran Columbia' were superceded by the fact that Haiti invaded and occupied the whole island in 1822.

Haitian Rule
Haiti would rule the whole island for 22 years. The cultural differences between the Francophone Haitians and the Hispanophone Dominicans, and the treatment and persecution of the Dominicans led to a festering resentment, until the Dominicans declared independence in 1844 and rose up against the Haitian authorities. An independence war lasted until 1849, when Haiti finally recognised the Dominican Republic's independence.
However, Haiti remained hostile to the Dominican Republic for many years afterwards, and this, coupled with internal instability, led to President Pedros Santana inviting Spain to return and re-colonise the country in 1861.

Spanish Restoration and Second Republic
Spanish rule technically violated the US Monroe doctrine, but because the US was busy trying to suppress the Confederate Rebellion, she was in no position to enforce it. Nevertheless, attempts at restoring the country to Spanish rule met with limited success. Spanish colonial policy did not tolerate much local involvement in governance, and Santana, who had been appointed Governor-General after stepping down as president, found himself losing power to Spanish-imposed officials, until he resigned in protest the following year in 1862. He died two years later in mysterious circumstances.
Meanwhile, a rebellion broke out amongst native Dominicans against the Spanish, aided and abetted by Haiti. Spain paid a heavy price in blood and treasure trying to suppress the rebels. By 1864, it became apparently to the Spanish government that they were fighting a futile and costly war that was not in their interests to fight. Accordingly, they withdrew their troops the following year and restored the Dominican Republic's independence.
The war had however led to the creation of many different militia groups under various different leaders, many of whom resorted to banditry when not fighting each other and against the army of the Republic. In 1867, annexation by the United States was mooted, but the proposal was defeated in the US Senate.
During the 1870s, the Dominican Republic entered a period of stability and prosperity thanks to a booming sugar industry, facilitated by refugee sugar agriculturalists from Cuba who brought their expertise with them.
However, the interests of 'big sugar' began to have a corrupting influence on the republic, and the sugar barons used their huge wealth to bribe and influence government in a way that was not necessarily in the interests of ordinary people.
In addition, a slump in sugar prices towards the end of the 19th Century led to an economic crisis and put the republic heavily into debt.

20th Century
The debt reached 15 times the annual government budget, and in 1903, various European countries who had had loaned money to the republic sent warships to menace and deter the Government from attempting to default.
In order to protect the Monroe Doctrine without having to go to war with an alliance of European naval powers, President Theodore Roosevelt offered to guarantee the Republic's debts. In return, the Dominican Republic was compelled to hand over control of its finances to the US, who administered the Republic's customs revenues, siphoning off over 50% in order to pay off the national debt.
Relative stability returned when Ramone Caceres became president in 1906, but his assassination in 1911 led to widespread disorder and eventual American intervention.
The American Occupation, lasting from 1916 to 1924 brought some measure of stability back to the Dominican Republic. Clashes between rebels and US forces where often brutal, and most Dominicans refused to serve in the US military government. However, US investment in infrastructure gave some measure of stability and prosperity back to the Republic.

Trujillo Era
The Trujillo era, lasting from 1930 until his assassination in 1961 was a period of brutality and repression, with Trujillo essentially running the country as a military dictator who nurtured an egotistical Hitlerian or Stalinist personality cult.
This was not the worst of crimes however. As well as murdering or imprisoning his political opponents, he also instituted a short-lived attempt at ethnic cleansing in the border area with Haiti, known as 'The Parsely Massacre'. The Parsely massacre was so-called because Dominican soldiers and allied civilian 'militia' groups would approach towns and villages in the border areas and hold up a sprig of parsely, asking inhabitants 'what is this?' People who failed to answer the question correctly in Spanish, using the word 'perejil ' which was difficult to pronounce for a native Haitian French speaker not used to trilling the 'r', were usually either shot, beaten or stabbed to death. Over 20,000 ethnic Haitians in the border areas suffered this fate. And Trujillo's ultimate ambition was to provoke a war with Haiti so that he could invade and seize the whole island. He was prevented from pursuing this ambition by the US, who threatened to cut of his aid if he persisted in his actions.
Despite this, Trujillo strove to maintain good relations with the US. He nominally declared war on the Axis in 1941, and his strident anti-communism ensured that the US continued to support him, despite his atrocities.
Opposition to his rule grew increasingly throughout the 1950s, and the savage murder the three Mirabel sisters by unknown persons (but widely accepted as assassins commissioned by Trujillo), accentuated the brutality of his rule. He was assassinated the following year.

Post Trujillo
Juan Bosch, a prominent leftist took over as president, but was overthrown two years later. A revolt in his favour in 1965 was halted by a US invasion, and elections were held to choose a new president. Although Bosch stood for office, he was defeated by Joaquin Balaguer, who went on to rule the Dominican Republic from 1966-1978 and again from 1986-1996.
Since then significant investment in infrastructure has improved the economy and stability of the Dominican Republic, relative to its historic standards.
Coinage of the Dominican Republic
The first coins used in what is now the Dominican Republic were, not surprisingly, Spanish. Following the Haitian invasion and occupation in 1822, the Haitian Gourde was introduced, replacing the Spanish currency that was still circulating at that time.
The Dominican Peso was first introduced in 1844, when the Dominican Republic declared independence from Haiti. From 1844 until decimalisation in 1877, the only coin of the Dominican Peso issued was the ¼ reale, struck in bronze and then brass.
Following decimalisation, coins of 1, 2½ and 5 centavos were issued for use in circulation.
In 1891, the Republic joined the Latin Monetary Union and changed the name of its currency to the Franco (Franc). Bronze coins of 5, 10 and 50 Centavos were issued as well as silver 1 and 5 francos. The currency reverted to the Peso in 1897 after Latin Monetary Union was abandoned.
At times, the US Dollar has circulated in place of local currency, as was the case between 1905 and 1937, when the Peso Oro was introduced. Two years later, coins of the new currency were introduced, consisting of 1, 5, 10, 25 centavos and ½ and 1 pesos.
Coins of 5, 10 and 25 pesos have since been reintroduced, and thanks to high inflation, the centavos denomination exists only in theory.
The US Dollar is widely circulated alongside the Peso, and is often preferred as a medium of exchange by locals. The Peso Oro was recently renamed the Peso Dominicanos.

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