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Facts and History of Santo Domingo for Kids

Santo Domingo is the capital and largest city in the Dominican Republic and the largest city in the Caribbean by population. In 2010, its population was counted as 965,040, rising to 2,907,100 when its surrounding metropolitan area was included. The city lies within the boundaries of the Distrito Nacional, itself bordered on three sides by Santo Domingo Province.

Founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1496, on the east bank of the Ozama River and then moved by Nicolás de Ovando in 1502 to the west bank of the river, the city is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas, and was the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World.

  • Santo Domingo is the site of the first university, cathedral, castle, monastery, and fortress in the New World.
  • Santo Domingo came to be known as the “Gateway to the Caribbean” and the chief town in Hispaniola from then on.
  • The original layout of the city and a large portion of its defensive wall can still be appreciated today throughout the Colonial Zone, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
  • After its rebuilding, Santo Domingo was known officially as Ciudad Trujillo in honor of dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, who governed from 1930.
  • The city’s shopping centers are located primarily on Avenida Winston Churchill, where there are places such as Acropolis Center, Blue Mall, and large supermarkets.
  • February 27 Avenue is very commercially successful and is considered the most important avenue of the city.
  • Established in 1538, the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) is the oldest university in the Americas and is also the only public university in the city.
  • The Santo Domingo Metro is part of a major “National Master Plan” to improve transportation in the city as well as the rest of the nation.
  • Santo Domingo is served by two international airports, the main one being Las Américas International Airport.