Christopher Columbus discovered the island on his first voyage to
the Western Hemishphere in 1492 and named it Hispaniola, later to
become the nations of the Dominican Republic. It was the earliest
Spanish colony in the Western Hemisphere to be established. Haitians
occupied the entire island from 1822 until 1844 when the Dominican
Republic attained independence.
Western traditions have been a strong presence in the Dominican
Republic eversince the Dominican Republic was first permanently
colonized by the Europeans in the western hemisphere. Some of the
old colonial buildings are still standing until today and a fine
example is in Santa Domingo. Art, music and literature are developed
in part of western patterns but equally strong is the African cultural
strain. The African heritage is most noticable in the folk culture
especially the music. Hence, these two traditions blend in the popular
national song and dance.