The Dominican Republic is a Spanish-speaking nation on the island of Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that are shared by two countries. Both by area and population, the Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean nation (after Cuba), with 48,445 square kilometres (18,705 sq mi) and an estimated 10 million people, one million of which live in the capital city, Santo Domingo.
Taínos inhabited what is now the Dominican Republic since the 7th century. Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1492, and it became the site of the first permanent European settlement in the Americas, namely Santo Domingo, the country's capital and Spain's first capital in the New World. After three centuries of Spanish rule, with French and Haitian interludes, the country became independent in 1821.