The Dominican Republic is a country situated in the Caribbean region on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago, occupying five-eighths of the island, with the remainder occupied by Haiti. At 18,792 square miles, the Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation with a population of approximately 10 million people, three million of whom live in Santo Domingo, the capital city.
The Dominican Republic boasts the ninth-largest economy in Latin America and has the largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region. The country has had one of the fastest-growing economies in the Americas throughout the last twenty years, with recent growth owed primarily to construction, manufacturing, mining and tourism. Private consumption in the Dominican Republic has been strong thanks to low inflation and increased job creation.
The Dominican Republic features the Caribbean's tallest mountain (Pico Duarte) and largest lake. It’s the most visited nation in the Caribbean and is a major tourist destination; it is also home to the site of the first cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress built in the Americas in Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone, which is a World Heritage Site.
The Dominican Republic is mostly republican and representative. Constitutionally, the legislative branch is superior to all other governmental branches, the judiciary is independent, and the Executive is responsible for running the state on a daily basis, answerable to the legislature and judiciary.
Legislative power is vested in the bicameral National Congress, which is composed of two houses. The upper house (the Senate) has 32 members who are elected for a four-year term; the lower house (the Chamber of Deputies) has 190 members, also elected for a four-year term using proportional representation – one deputy is elected for every 50,000 inhabitants plus any fraction exceeding 25,000 but never lower than two.
The Senate is, among other things, responsible for appointing the President and other members of the Central Electoral Board, appointing members of the Public Accounts Chamber, while also deciding on the claims made in the Chamber of Deputies against public officers for misconduct.
Elections to Congress and municipalities are held separately from presidential elections. Re-election is always possible and is unlimited. Senator and Deputy offices are incomparable to any other position at the Public Administration.
The Executive branch of the Dominican Republic government oversees the daily administration of the state, with responsibility to the judicial and legislative branches. The President is the head of state, as well as the head of government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Dominican Armed Forces.
The Dominican Cabinet assists the president in governing the nation, and the President appoints ministers to the Cabinet as he sees fit. The President and Vice President are elected for four-year terms on the same ticket by popular vote – a president can run for the same post again after at least one constitutional term (in accordance with an amendment made to the Constitution in 2010). Elections are held every four years.
The Dominican Republic’s President wields substantial powers: he has authority over virtually all appointments and removals from office; he can publicize all laws passed by Congress; he can engage in diplomatic relations with other countries; and he retains the power to command, deploy, and make appointments in the armed forces. The president is also empowered to use emergency powers to overrule basic rights during emergencies. He can also defer the legislature, declare a state of siege, and rule by decree when the need arises.
Ministerial officials in the government must be Dominican citizens, at least twenty-five years of age, and hold full civil and political rights. The President is constitutionally responsible for any positive or negative actions of his ministerial appointments, who serve as administrators of their ministries and as agents of the President.
The Judicial Power is responsible for administering justice to encourage the respect, protection and supervision of rights based on the Constitution and law. It’s uppermost level is the Supreme Court of Justice, which is made up of 16 judges appointed by the National Council of Magistrates, which is itself nominated by the three major political parties. It is overseen by the President of the Republic.
The Supreme Court listens to appeals from lower courts, and it has sole jurisdiction over actions against the President, members of his cabinet, and members of Congress.