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The Dominican Republic makes up two-thirds of the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, which they share with Haiti. In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the "new world" by first landing on the island of Hispaniola - what is today the Dominican Republic. The island of Hispaniola became the springboard for Spanish conquest of the Caribbean and the American mainland. At time of Columbus, the Dominican Republic had a small native population called the TaĆ­no Indians, estimated at around 300,000. However, within 50 years of Columbus' arrival the Taino population was made virtually extinct.

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Today, the population of the Dominican Republic is approximately nine million, with the majority living in poverty. The World Bank reported that the Dominican Republic possessed the third lowest standard of living in all the Western Hemisphere. Additionally, the United Nations published a study that indicated that from the year 2000 to 2003, the poverty level in the Dominican Republic increased from 54% to 62%, while the extreme poverty level went from 29% to 33%.

The UN also studied the inequality of income in the country finding that the poorest 20% of the population only had 5.1% of the income whereas the richest 10% had 37.9% of the income. Presently, the country is also undergoing a phenomena common in the Third World: a massive population shift from the rural areas to the urban centers, aggravated by the fact that almost 60% of the country's population is already living in the cities. Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, has close to a third of the country's population living within the city limits, with 65% living in urban slums that occupy only about 19% of the land mass. Furthermore, the country's total population is growing at a rate of 2.6% annually and the cities are increasing 6.5%, the slums of the capital city where IDDI works are exploding at a 10% yearly rate.

The inhabitants of the slum settlements are subjected to a series of physical, social and economic conditions that manifest themselves in numerous ways within the slum settlements. Among them are:

  • No guarantee of steady or fixed incomes.
  • No guarantees that they will not be forced off the land they are living on (as is presently happening on a large scale in Santo Domingo).
  • No guarantee of protection from youth gangs, thieves or other similar menaces common in these areas.
  • No real mechanisms though which to express their opinions, aspirations, or needs within the present socio-political context.
  • No guarantee of a clear, secure or comfortable future for them or their children.
  • No guarantee of being protected from the multiple health hazards caused by poor quality of water, no garbage collection, no effective human, biological or chemical waste disposal system, etc.

Consequently, more effort must made by all sectors within the Dominican Republic; not only the Domincian government, but also the business community and civil society. The long-term development of the low income population can only be accomplished collectively. That's where you can help by supporting the efforts of the Dominican Foundation.


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The Dominican Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization (EIN/tax ID number: 65-0263936).