The Dominican Republic is an 18,792 square mile nation that is situated within the Caribbean. Major financial institutions such as the World Bank rank the Dominican economy as the region's largest economy. In 2017, its gross domestic product was the 66th highest in the world while its per capita gross domestic product was the 77th highest in the world. The success of the Dominican economy can be attributed to several factors such as the government's ambitious economic policies as well as the proper utilization of natural resources in the country. Some of the Dominican Republic's most important natural resources include the arable land, minerals, fish, and beautiful scenery among others.
Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic
Due to the location of the Dominican within the Caribbean, it has vast quantities of fish within its territorial waters such as marlin, American grouper, and bonito. Like in many countries within the Caribbean, fishing in the Dominican can be divided into three main categories, which include leisure fishing, subsistence fishing, and sports fishing. Leisure fishing is one of the essential forms of fishing in the Dominican Republic because it attracts large numbers of sports fishers to the region. Several fishing charters have been set up to cater to a large number of sports fishers who visit the area. Subsistence fishing is also a vital activity carried out by the Dominican people since the fish supplements their diet. Despite the vast quantity of fish within the country's waters, most of the fish eaten within the country, as much as more than 50% according to some estimates, are imported from other nations. The Dominican Republic's commercial fishing sector is relatively underdeveloped which limits its contribution to the country's economy. On average, the entire fishing industry only contributes 0.5% of the Dominican Republic’s gross domestic product.
In 2015, forests covered roughly 41% of the Dominican Republic's territory which was a significant increase from the size of land covered in 2004. The increase in forest cover within the Dominican Republic is primarily because the government and environmentalists encouraged the Dominican people to plant more trees and conserve the existing forests. One of the primary forests in the nation is the Hispaniolan pine forests which the Dominican Republic shares with Haiti on the island of Hispaniola. The pine forest covered approximately 15% of the island's territory which was equivalent to 4,500 square miles. The most prevalent types of trees within the Hispaniolan pine forests are pines and conifers. The forest faces several threats with the major one being deforestation to clear land for human use.
One of the Dominican Republic's essential natural resources is its beautiful scenery which attracts large numbers of tourists. The beautiful sites in the Dominican Republic are spread throughout the country particularly in the northern region and the eastern region. In the country's eastern region, some of the most famous areas include Bávaro and Punta Cana. Bávaro is exceptionally famous due to the quality of its beaches which UNESCO considers to be the most impressive in the region. The Bávaro beaches attract massive numbers of tourists which have resulted in the construction of some high-class resorts. Punta Cana is one of the Dominican's most popular destinations mainly due to the area's beautiful beaches, marine biodiversity, and diving sites. Punta Cana is also famous due to the large number of world-class hotels in the area. In the country's northern section, some of the most beautiful sites include the towns of Santiago de los Caballeros and Puerto Plata. The southern section of the Dominican Republic also has a significant number of tourist attraction sites such as the cities of Barahona and Azua. The tourism industry in the Dominican Republic is one of the essential sectors since it earns the country significant amounts of foreign exchange. The government has invested heavily in improving the sector through partnering with foreign governments as well as encouraging foreign investment in the sector. Despite the benefits that tourism brings to the Dominican Republic, it also has significant disadvantages as it leads to the destruction of the country's wildlife and the pollution of some areas by the tourists.
A study by the World Bank indicated that in 2014 roughly 16.56% of the Dominican Republic's land was considered as arable. The data indicated that since 2008, the size of arable land in the country had remained relatively stable. The agriculture sector is one of the most critical sectors in the Dominican Republic and it employs roughly 14.6% of the Dominican labor force. According to the Dominican government, in 2017, farming contributed roughly 5.5% of the country's gross domestic product. Dominican farmers grow a wide array of crops such as sugarcane, coffee, and bananas. Most of the crops grown in the country are sold to other nations earning the country foreign exchange. The most significant challenge facing the Dominican farming sector is the fluctuation of global prices of agricultural products.
Another primary natural resource in the Dominican Republic is livestock. Dominican livestock farmers keep different types of animals such as cattle, poultry, and sheep. In 2001, the Dominican government estimated that the country was home to more than 280,000 sheep and goats as well as more than 2 million cattle. One of the challenges that the Dominican livestock industry faces is diseases such as African swine fever that significantly reduced the number of pigs in the country.
The Dominican Republic has been blessed with vast quantities of minerals such as gold and silver that are some of its most essential natural resources. One of the country's most famous gold mines is the Pueblo Viejo mine which is owned and operated by two corporations, Barrick Gold and Goldcorp. Despite the presence of valuable minerals in the country, the mining sector only contributed 2% of the Dominican gross domestic product in 2002.
Challenges Facing the Economy of the Dominican Republic
The Dominican economy faces several challenges with the most significant ones being the over-reliance on the tourism industry. The country's high unemployment rate, which stood at roughly 12.5% in 2013, is also a significant challenge facing the country's economy.