The Dominican Republic is a Spanish-speaking representative democracy located on the eastern portion of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, bordering Haiti. A legacy of unsettled, mostly non-representative, rule for much of the 20th century—most notably the brutal 32 year reign of US sponsored dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo —was brought to an end in 1961 when the dictator was killed.
The Dominican Republic should not be confused with Dominica, another Caribbean country.
The country has had a history of changing ownership, with Spain, France, Haiti, Spain again, and the United States taking their turns at ruling Dominican territory amid attempts at independence and self rule. The twentieth century was marked by repeated US intervention in local affairs. Apart from the history of US support for the Trujillo dictatorship (1930-1961), the most infamous example of this is the 1965 invasion by American troops in the midst of a Dominican civil war, an uprising that was sparked by an attempt to restore the republic's first democratically-elected president, Juan Bosch, who had been overthrown by an American backed right-wingcoup in 1963. This invasion had the effect of establishing the rule of Joaquín Balaguer (1966-1978), and ensuring that Juan Bosch's constitutional government never return to power.
Since the early 1960s, economic problems have led to a vast migration of Dominicans to the US, mainly to large east coast cities. New York City's Washington Heights is so densely populated by Dominicans, it is sometimes referred to as Quisqueya Heights. Quisqueya believed to be the name given to the eastern side of Hispaniola by its original inhabitants, the Arawak Indians, although this version is disputed by some historians. Dominicans are now one of the largest Latino groups in the US.