The population of the Dominican Republic in 2007 was estimated by the United Nations at 9,760,000, which placed it number 82 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 5% of the population was over 65 years of age, while 35% of the population was under 15 years of age. There were 103 males for every 100 females in the country in 2007. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2006–2007 is 1.5%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 10,121,000.

It was estimated by the Dominican government that the population density in 2007 was 192 per km² (498 per sq mi), and 63% of the population lived in urban areas. The southern coastal plains and the Cibao Valley are the most densely populated areas of the country. The capital city, Santo Domingo, had a population of 3,014,000 in 2007. Other important cities are Santiago de los Caballeros (pop. 756,098), La Romana (pop. 250,000), San Pedro de Macorís, San Francisco de Macorís, Puerto Plata, and La Vega. Per the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 2.3%.

Largest cities of the Dominican Republic by population:

City Name Province Pop. City Name Province Pop.
Santo Domingo Distrito Nacional 2,987,013 San Francisco de Macorís Duarte 198,068
Santiago de los Caballeros Santiago 1,329,091 San Felipe de Puerto Plata Puerto Plata 146,882
Santo Domingo Oeste Santo Domingo 701,847 Salvaleón de Higüey La Altagracia 141,751
Santo Domingo Este Santo Domingo 624,704 Moca Espaillat 131,733
Santo Domingo Norte Santo Domingo 286,912 San Juan de la Maguana San Juan 129,224
San Cristóbal San Cristóbal 220,767 Bonao Monseñor Nouel 115,743
Concepción de La Vega La Vega 220,279 Baní Peravia 107,926
San Pedro de Macorís San Pedro de Macorís 217,141 Boca Chica Santo Domingo 99,508
La Romana La Romana 202,488 Azua de Compostela Azua 87,024
Los Alcarrizos Santo Domingo 199,611 Bajos de Haina San Cristóbal 80,835

Ethnic composition

The ethnic composition of the Dominican population is 73% multiracial, 16% white, and 11% black. The multiracial population is primarily a mixture of European and African with a notable amount of Taíno influence. The country's population also includes a large Haitian minority. Other ethnic groups in the country include West Asians—mostly Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians. A smaller, yet significant presence of East Asians (primarily ethnic Chinese and Japanese) can also be found throughout the population.

Racial issues

As elsewhere in the Spanish Empire, the Spanish colony of Hispaniola employed a social system known as casta, wherein Peninsulares (Spaniards born in Spain) occupied the highest echelon. These were followed, in descending order of status, by: criollos, castizos, mestizos, Indians, mulattoes,zambos, and black slaves. The stigma of this stratification persisted, reaching its culmination in the Trujillo regime, as the dictator used racial persecution and nationalistic fervor against Haitians.

A recent U.N. envoy in October 2007 found racism against blacks in general – and Haitians in particular – to be rampant in every segment of Dominican society. According to a study by the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, about 90% of the contemporary Dominican population has West African ancestry to varying degrees. However, most Dominicans do not self-identify as black, in contrast to people of West African ancestry in other countries. A variety of terms are used to represent a range of skintones, such as morena (brown), canela (red/brown) ["cinnamon"], India (Indian), blanca oscura (dark white), and trigueño (literally "wheat colored", which is the English equivalent of olive skin), among others.

Many have claimed that this represents a reluctance to self-identify with West African descent and the culture of the freed slaves. According to Dr. Miguel Anibal Perdomo, professor of Dominican Identity and Literature at Hunter College in New York City, "There was a sense of 'deculturación' among the West Indian slaves of Hispaniola. [There was] an attempt to erase any vestiges of West Indian culture from the Dominican Republic. We were, in some way, brainwashed and we've become westernized."

However, this view is not universal, as many also claim that Dominican culture is simply different and rejects the racial categorizations of other regions. Ramona Hernández, director of the Dominican Studies Institute at City College of New York asserts that the terms were originally a defense against racism: "During the Trujillo regime, people who were dark skinned were rejected, so they created their own mechanism to fight it." She went on to explain, "When you ask, 'What are you?' they don't give you the answer you want ... saying we don't want to deal with our blackness is simply what you want to hear." The Dominican Republic is not unique in this respect, either. In a 1976 census survey conducted in Brazil, respondents described their skin color in 136 distinct terms.


The Dominican Republic is 95.2% Christian, including 88.6% Roman Catholic and 4.2% Protestant. Recent but small scale immigration, as well as proselytizing, has brought other religions, with the following shares of the population: Spiritist: 2.2%, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 1.0%, Buddhist: 0.10%, Bahá'í: 0.1%, Islam: 0.02%, Judaism: 0.01%, Chinese Folk Religion: 0.1%, and Dominican Vudu (no census).

Roman Catholicism was introduced by Columbus and Spanish missionaries. Religion wasn’t really the foundation of their entire society, as it was in other parts of the world at the time, and most of the population didn’t attend church on a regular basis. Nonetheless, most of the education in the country was based upon the Catholic religion, as the Bible was required in the curricula of all public schools. Children would use religious–based dialogue when greeting a relative or parent. For example: a child would say "Bless me, mother", and the mother would reply "May God bless you".

The nation has two patroness saints: Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia (Our Lady Of High Grace) is the patroness of the Dominican people, and Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes (Our Lady Of Mercy) is the patroness of the Dominican Republic.

The Catholic Church began to lose popularity in the late 1800s. This was due to a lack of funding, of priests, and of support programs. During the same time, the Protestant evangelical movement began to gain support. Religious tension between Catholics and Protestants in the country has been rare.

There has always been religious freedom throughout the entire country. Not until the 1950s were restrictions placed upon churches by Trujillo. Letters of protest were sent against the mass arrests of government adversaries. Trujillo began a campaign against the church and planned to arrest priests and bishops who preached against the government. This campaign ended before it was even put into place, with his assassination.

Judaism appeared in the Dominican Republic in the late 1930s. During World War II, a group of Jews escaping Nazi Germany fled to the Dominican Republic and founded the city of Sosúa. It has remained the center of the Jewish population since.


Primary education is officially free and compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 14, although those who live in isolated areas have limited access to schooling. Primary schooling is followed by a two–year intermediate school and a four–year secondary course, after which a diploma called the 'bachillerato (high school diploma) is awarded. Relatively few lower–income students succeed in reaching this level, due to financial hardships and limitation due to location. Most of the wealthier students attend private schools, which are frequently sponsored by religious institutions. Some public and private vocational schools are available, particularly in the field of agriculture, but this too reaches only a tiny percentage of the population.

Health statistics

In 2007 the Dominican Republic had a birth rate of 22.91 per 1000, and a death rate of 5.32 per 1000.

AIDS has become the leading cause of death among teenagers and adults aged 15–49 years, spurred in part due to a rise in sex tourism and child sex tourism. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the Dominican Republic in 2003 stood at an estimated 1.7 percent, with an estimated 88,000 HIV/AIDS-positive Dominicans. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reports that some urban areas the Dominican Republic have HIV/AIDS infection rates well in excess of 10%. Dengue is endemic to the island of Hispaniola, and there are cases of malaria. There is currently a mission based in the United States to combat the AIDS rate in the Dominican Republic.

On 18 December 2020, the William J. Clinton Foundation released a list of all contributors. It included COPRESIDA-Secretariado Tecnico, a Dominican Republic government agency formed to fight AIDS, which gave between US$10–25 million to the Foundation.

The practice of abortion is illegal in all cases in the Dominican Republic, a ban that includes conceptions following rape, incest, and in situations where the health of the mother is in danger. This ban was reiterated by the Dominican government in a September 2009 provision of a constitutional reform bill.


The Dominican Republic has become a trans-shipment point for Colombian drugs destined to Europe as well as the United States and Canada. Money laundering via the Dominican Republic is favored by Colombian drug cartels for the ease of illicit financial transactions. In 2004 it was estimated that 8% of all cocaine smuggled into the United States had come through the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic responded with increased efforts to seize drug shipments, arrest and extradite those involved, and combat money-laundering. A 1995 report stated that social pressures and poverty—which was then increasing—had led to a rise in prostitution. Though prostitution is legal and the age of consent is 18, child prostitution is a growing phenomenon in impoverished areas. In an environment where young girls are often denied employment opportunities offered to boys, prostitution frequently becomes a source of supplementary income.[citation needed] UNICEF estimated in 1994 that at least 25,000 children were involved in the Dominican sex trade, 63% of that figure being girls.


In the 20th century, many Chinese, Arabs (primarily from Lebanon and Syria), Japanese and to a lesser degree Koreans settled in the country, working as agricultural laborers and merchants. Waves of Chinese immigrants, the latter ones fleeing the Chinese Communist People's Liberation Army (PLA), arrived and worked in mines and building railroads. The current Chinese Dominican population totals 15,000. The Arab community is also rising at an increasing rate. Estimates are at 3,400.[citation needed] Japanese immigrants, who mostly work in the business districts and markets, are at an estimate of 1,900 living in the country.[citation needed] The Korean presence is minor but evident at a population of 500.

In addition, there are descendants of immigrants who came from other Caribbean islands, including St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Antigua, St. Vincent, Montserrat, Tortola, St. Croix, St. Thomas, Martinique, and Guadeloupe. They worked on sugarcane plantations and docks and settled mainly in the cities of San Pedro de Macoris and Puerto Plata. They are believed to number 28,000. Before and during World War II 800 Jewish refugees moved to the Dominican Republic, and many of their descendants live in the town of Sosúa. Nationwide, there are an estimated 100 Jews left. Immigration from Europe and the United States is at an all time high.[citation needed] 82,000 Americans (in 1999), 40,000 Italians, 1,900 French, 1,400 Britons, and 800 Germans.;

Illegal Haitian immigration

Haiti is much poorer than the Dominican Republic.[citation needed] In 2003, 80% of all Haitians were poor[citation needed] and 48% were illiterate[citation needed] ; in 2002, over two-thirds of the labor force lacked formal jobs. The country's per capita GDP (PPP) was $1,400 in 2008, or less than one-sixth of the Dominican figure. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Haitians have migrated to the Dominican Republic, with some estimates speaking of 800,000 Haitians in the country, while some put the Haitian–born population as high as one million. They usually work at low-paying and unskilled labor jobs, including construction work, household cleaning, and in sugar plantations.

Children of illegal Haitian immigrants are often stateless and denied services. Their parents are denied Dominican nationality because they are deemed to be transient residents, due to their illegal or undocumented status. Haiti also denies them nationality (Haiti's Constitution states in Title II, Article 11 that "Any person born of a Haitian father or Haitian mother who are themselves native-born Haitians and have never renounced their nationality possesses Haitian nationality at the time of birth.") because of a lack of proper documents or witnesses. Therefore, children of illegal Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic are neither Haitian nor Dominican citizens.

A large number of Haitian women, often arriving with several health problems, cross the border to Dominican soil during their last weeks of pregnancy to obtain much-needed medical attention for childbirth, since Dominican public hospitals do not refuse medical services based on nationality or legal status. Statistics from a hospital in Santo Domingo report that over 22% of childbirths are by Haitian mothers.

In 2005 Dominican President Leonel Fernández criticized collective expulsions of Haitians as having taken place "in an abusive and inhuman way." After a UN delegation issued a preliminary report stating that it found a profound problem of racism and discrimination against people of Haitian origins, Dominican Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso issued a formal statement denouncing it and asserting that "Our border with Haiti has its problems, this is our reality and it must be understood. It is important not to confuse national sovereignty with indifference, and not to confuse security with xenophobia..."


The Dominican Republic has experienced three distinct waves of emigration in the second half of the twentieth century. The first period began in 1961, when a coalition of high-ranking Dominicans, with assistance from the CIA, assassinated General Rafael Trujillo, the nation's military dictator. In the wake of his death, fear of retaliation by Trujillo's allies, and political uncertainty in general, spurred migration from the island. In 1965, the United States began a military occupation of the Dominican Republic and eased travel restrictions, making it easier for Dominicans to obtain American visas. From 1966 to 1978, the exodus continued, fueled by high unemployment and political repression. Communities established by the first wave of immigrants to the U.S. created a network that assisted subsequent arrivals. In the early 1980s, underemployment, inflation, and the rise in value of the dollar all contributed to a third wave of emigration from the island nation. Today, emigration from the Dominican Republic remains high, facilitated by the social networks of now-established Dominican communities in the United States. In 2006, there were approximately 1.2 million people of Dominican descent in the US, both native and foreign-born.