located IN the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic occupies the eastern part of the island of Hispaniola, the other part the Republic of Haiti. It has a land area of 18,810 sq. mi. (48,442 sq. km.), with a population of 9,183,984 (2007 est.), and a population density of 474 people per sq. mi. (182 people per sq. km.). The
capital, Santo Domingo, makes up for about a quarter of the population of the country, which remains extremely poor, with a Gross Domestic Product per capita of $2,776 per year.
About 21 percent of the land is arable, with a further 43 percent used for meadow or pasture. Historically, the mainstay of the economy has been sugar, with sugar cane now being used to make ethanol to blend with gasoline to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The carbon dioxide emission per capita for the country has been relatively low, at 1.4 metric tons in 1990, but rose steadily to 2.5 metric tons by 2003. Most of this came from the use of liquid fuels (94 percent), with the remainder from the manufacture of cement (5 percent), and the use of solid fuels (1 percent).
The largest amount of the electricity generated is used for general household consumption, for air conditioning units in houses and businesses, and also for the influx of tourists. There has also been a rise in the number of people who own their own cars, and no longer use the gua-gua (buses). Forests cover 13 percent of the country. There is extensive logging by farmers and developers, even though commercial tree cutting has been outlawed since 1967.
To try to combat climate change, the government of Joaquín Balaguer took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and ratified the Vienna Convention in the following year. The government of Hipólito Mejía accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on
February 12, 2002, which want into effect on February 16, 2005. This, however, has not prevented the destruction of most of the coral reefs off the north shore of the country, which have been badly damaged by hurricanes and by anchors from fishing boats that have heavily overfished that region.
SEE ALSO: Alternative Energy, Ethanol; Deforestation; Haiti; Oceanic Changes; Tourism.
bibliography. S.L. Baver and B.D. Lynch, eds., Beyond Sun and Sand: Caribbean Environmentalisms (Rutgers University Press, 2006); "Dominican Republic—Climate and Atmosphere," www.earthtrends.wri.org (cited October 2007); E.C. Palmer, Land Use and Landscape Change along the Dominican-Haitian Borderland (University Microfilms International, 1979); Roy Ryder, "Land Evaluation for Stee-pland Agriculture in the Dominican Republic," Geographical Journal (v.161/1, 1994).
JUSTIN CORFIELD Geelong Grammar School, Australia
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