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Poker News | Casino Poker | Tournament Reports

World Poker- The Dominican Republic

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The Latin American country of The Dominican Republic is located on the Caribbean island of Hispanola. The island is shared with The Republic of Haiti, which makes Hispanola one of only two Caribbean islands that is occupied by two countries.

Hispanola is the second largest island in the Greater Antilles and located west of Puerto Rico and East of Jamaica and Cuba.

Hispanola was discovered on December 5, 1492 when Christopher Columbus landed at Môle Saint-Nicolas, and claimed the island for Spain. When Columbus’s ship the Santa Maria ran aground nineteen days later, near the present site of Cap-Haitien, he was forced to leave 39 of his men there. The shipwrecked crew led to the founding of the first settlement of La Navidad. From 1492 until 1844 when Hispanola gained Independence, the island was ruled by Spain, France and then Haiti.

The Dominican Republic is noted for many “firsts” one being the first country to have a permanent European settlement in the Americas. Other firsts include; the first university, fortress, cathedral and European built road. Also, New Isabella (now Santo Domingo) was the site of the first colonial capitol in the Americas. Along with these historical firsts, the country was also the first in the New Americas to embrace slavery.

In 1501, the monarchs of Spain, Ferdinand I and Isabella, granted their permission to the colonists to import African slaves. The introduction of slavery was due to a dire need for workers in the sugar cane fields and mills. The first slaves arrived in the Dominican Republic in 1503, bringing with them their rich heritage which continues to influence the modern day country.

In Santo Domingo, the first slave revolt in the Americas took place in 1522. The uprising occurred at the sugar plantation owned by Don Diego Colon, who was Christopher Columbus’s son. Many of the slaves escaped to the mountains and formed communities, free from slavery. The Spanish gave up control of the island in 1821, leaving way for twenty-one changes of government and at least fifty military uprisings over the next several decades.

Today, the political system of The Dominican Republic closely resembles that of the USA. There is a representative democracy, with the national powers divided among independent legislative, judicial and executive branches. The President is commander in chief of the armed forces, appoints the cabinet and executes laws passed by the legislative branch. Presidents and vice presidents are elected by direct vote for 4-year terms and run for office on the same ticket.

The current President of The Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández, governs a country of close to ten million people who occupy 31 provinces. President Fernández rules the country from the national capitol, Santo Domingo, which is located within its own district, called the National District, which is not considered one of the provinces.

The Dominican Republic is considered a developing country of lower middle-income status. Tourism accounts for more than $1.3 billion dollars in annual income, making the service industry one of the biggest employers on the island. Like any Caribbean island, the activities for tourists to enjoy are endless. With more than 870 miles of coast line, the island has some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean. It is easy for tourists to find deserted white sandy beaches, diving attractions and unspoiled nature all around the island.

One of the most popular tourist attractions however is whale watching. A full 85% of Humpback whales of the North West Atlantic are born in Dominican waters, where they return every year to breed and give birth. The Humpback whale is an endangered species, with only about 6,000 of them in the entire world. Of this number, it is estimated that 2,000 to 3,500 visit the Silver Bank and the Marine Mammal Sanctuary on the island. This amazing whale watching event draws thousands of tourists every year.

Another unusual feature of the island is it is home to the highest mountain in the Caribbean, Pico Duarte, which is over 10,000 feet in elevation. During the winter season, thick snow can frequently cover its peak, delighting skiiers. Because of this geographical diversity, it is possible for visitors to play in the snow in the morning, and then warm up on the beach in the afternoon!

What really sets The Dominican Republic apart from other islands popular with tourists however, is the number of casinos located on the island. Santo Domingo's present day splendor is nurtured by its rich colonial past, evidenced by an impressive showing of historic ruins, and preserved monuments which share the landscape with modern casinos.

Gambling is big business throughout The Dominican Republic. In Santo Domingo alone, there are over eight hotels that have casinos. While there are over 20 casinos to choose from on the island, none are the around the clock operations many tourists are accustomed to. Even though the casinos are only open from 4 p.m. until 5-6 a.m., they all boast offering Las Vegas style action, dining and entertainment, giving tourists and locals alike a variety of options for an exciting night on the town.

The king of these casinos is the Barcelo Gran Hotel Lina and Casino, which is a combination of beautiful casino space and impeccable hotel rooms. For visitors outside the city, there is the quaint charm of the Casino Playa Chiquita in Sosua, a local favorite.

Popular with American tourists is The American Casino and Hotel, in Puerto Plata, which boasts a 40,000 square foot gaming room and a direct connection to the beautiful beach.

Of particular interest to poker enthusiasts is that most of thee casinos offer at least one poker table. In a testament to the popularity of poker worldwide, many of the poker rooms offer Texas Hold’em and small tournaments.

Considering The Dominican Republic covers only 8,816 square miles, yet hosts so many casinos, it is a sure bet there is a lot of poker being played on the island of Hispanola.

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