Santo Domingo (SD) is a US state located in the Caribbean, occupying the eastern 2/3 of the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles island chain. The state shares its' sole land border with Haiti to the west and a maritime border with the state of Puerto Rico to the east. A population of 10.5 million ranks Santo Domingo among the largest of US states. It is also one of only four US states where Spanish is an official second language (the others being Panama, Cuba, and Puerto Rico).
Admitted to the Union as the 47th state on February 9, 1903, Santo Domingo occupies a place throughout the colonization of the Americas, being the landing site for Christopher Columbus during his historic voyage in 1492 and the first permanent European settlement in the New World (with the current state capital and largest city of Santo Domingo being established in 1496). It endured multiple centuries of Spanish rule, until briefly becoming independent for the first time in late 1821 and undergoing a brutal Haitian occupation from 1822 to 1844. For a short time, Spain was able to reestablish control over the nascent republic in the early 1860s, when then-President Pedro Santana reverted the Republic of Santo Domingo's status to that of a Spanish colony (it remains the only sovereign nation, current or former, to do so). After only four years of control, and fighting a resistance movement for two of those years, Spain abandoned the island altogether in 1865.
In 1869, the 13th (and final) president of the republic, Buenaventura Báez, requested that his heavily indebted nation be annexed by the United States, who would help pay off the Santo Domingoan national debt, and establish a naval base in Samana Bay. US President Ulysses S. Grant accepted Báez's offer and drafted a treaty for the annexation of Santo Domingo, with a clause guaranteeing future statehood. Grant believed that the new territory could be used to resettle freed American slaves (only a few thousand freedmen would actually relocate to the island). Despite mixed public opinion, the treaty was narrowly ratified by the US Senate in June 1870, and the United States took formal possession of the new Santo Domingo Territory in July. In the thirty-three years leading up to statehood in 1903, the US would pour millions of dollars into upgrading the impoverished region's infrastructure and generally improving it's overall standard of living. The Samana Bay Naval Base has since become a regional hub for the US Navy's Atlantic Fleet (along with Guantanamo in Cuba).
Today, the state's economy is extremely diverse, with tourism, industry, and agriculture making up a significant portion of it's annual income. Tourism is by far the largest, with countless millions visiting Santo Domingo's sandy white beaches and national parks every year. Illegal immigration from neighboring Haiti has been a common problem for decades, despite fewer trade restrictions since the fall of Haitian communism in 1986.
Santo Domingo is subdivided into 23 counties, of which, the 10 largest are listed below in order of population.
|1||Santo Domingo County||Santo Domingo||2,000,000|
|5||San Pedro County||San Pedro||550,000|
|7||Ocoa County||San Cristóbal||495,000|
|8||San Leon County||San Leon||470,000|
|9||Barahona County||Santa Cruz||400,000|
|10||Moca County||La Vega||350,000|