Dominican Republic History
and the Noble Taino


The Tainos were a big part of the Dominican Republic History.
But things changed when Christopher Columbus arrived...

Dominican Republic History

In the beginning the Arawak
Tribe arrived in Hispaniola from the Orinoco Valley (what is now Venezuela) sometime around 1000 B.C. and they gradually mixed with the natives of the island.
They called themselves Tainos.
Taino means "good or noble".


They used this name to separate themselves from the
more warlike Arawaks called The Caribs.

When Cristobal Colon (Spanish for Christopher Columbus)
arrived in 1492, he landed on the North Coast of the island.
He named this island La Española or Hispaniola. He also
called the indigenous people "Indians" because he thought
he had reached the east coast of India.

Looking for something about Domincan Republic History?

Search this site

Christopher Columbus

Soon after he started building a fortress. He noted in his journal:
“I have ordered a tower and fortress to be constructed and, a large cellar,
not because I believe there is any necessity on account of the natives,
I am certain the people I have with me could subjugate all this island …
as the population are naked and without arms and very cowardly."
He called this fortress La Navidad because it was founded on Christmas Day.

La Isabela, First Settlement in the New World

La Isabela was founded by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage in 1493. This was after discovering that the fort La Navidad, had been totally destroyed by the native Taino people. Columbus was told by nearby Tainos that the settlers had mistreated the natives, who retaliated by killing all of them. This second settlement was named "La Isabela" in honor of the Queen of Spain Isabella the Catholic or Elizabeth the Catholic. This is where the city of Puerto Plata is in present time.

La Isabela is considered the first formal European settlement in the New World. La Isabela was struck by two hurricanes. One in 1494 and another in 1495. After these hurricanes hunger and disease soon led to mutiny, punishment, disillusion, and more hunger and disease.

It reached the point where a group of settlers attempted to take several ships and go back to Spain. Isabela barely survived until 1496 when Columbus decided to abandon it for a new settlement, Santo Domingo.

The Taino Massacre

Cristobal Colon liked this island for its gold and the
convenient location. Also, the natives where mild-mannered
and easy to control. The Spanish wanted to convert
the Tainos to Christianity. They also enslaved many of
them under The Encomienda System.

The Encomienda System was a Spanish legal system that  allowed
the new settlers to force the indigenous people to work for them.

Although the Tainos were peaceful by nature they couldn't take the
abuse of their women and the hard labor they were made to endure.

So in 1495 they rebelled against the Spanish. But unfortunately the
Spanish defeated them. In this unfair Dominican Republic history
those Indians who didn't die fighting died from infectious diseases.
Diseases like smallpox and the flu brought on by the Europeans.
The Taino people had no immunity against these diseases.
Other causes of death were abuse, the break up of family,
starvation, enslavement, torture and even suicide.

As the Taino population started to disappear, the Spanish began
to bring slaves from Africa. By 1524, that is only 30 years after Christopher Columbus' arrival, the natives of Hispaniola were nearly wiped out.

Santo Domingo, the New Settlement

Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic's capital, was founded by Bartholomew Columbus, Christopher's brother, in 1496. The city has many historical sites. "El Alcazar de Colon" was built by Diego Colon (Cristobal Colon's son) in 1510.

Alcazar de Colon

Dominican Republic History

The Alcázar de Colón was the colonial palace of the Columbus
family, beginning with his son Diego. Now it is a museum
displaying period furniture and decorations.

Alcazar de Colon

Santo Domingo counts with the first Catholic cathedral, the First
University and the very first hospital in the New World.

You can find most of these historical monuments in
Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone. Click here to see the map.

Faro a Colon, Dominican Republic History

The Columbus Lighthouse (Faro a Colón in Spanish) is a monument
located in Santo Domingo in tribute to Christopher Columbus.
It is said that Columbus remains are in the mausoleum.

Faro a Colon

It was inaugurated in 1992 for the 500th anniversary of the Discovery of America. It was funded by the Latin American states and cost several million dollars. The monument is both a mausoleum and a museum. Its architecture is cross-shaped and represents the Christianization of America.

Faro a Colon

The monument is a sore and controversial subject in
Dominican Republic History. The lighthouse has 147 giant beams
projecting a cross of light 3,000 ft. into the Caribbean night
that can be seen from as far as Puerto Rico.

They don't turn on the lighthouse anymore and they haven't
done so in some years, because every time the lighthouse
was turned on, the rest of the city was turned off.

Go from Dominican Republic History to Culture

Go to Dominican Republic Beaches

Go to Food

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.

Protected by Copyscape Duplicate Content Detection Tool

All content (including text, photographs and video) is copyrighted.