Santo Domingo was Spain’s first capital in the New World, and its Ciudad Colonial is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Occupying the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic is the second-largest country in the Caribbean (only Cuba is larger). With rich soil, it produces a variety of agricultural products, including cocoa, coffee, tobacco, sugar cane and rum. Its varied ecosystems are home to a wide range of animals, including 29 indigenous species of birds. At the eastern end of the island, Punta Cana is the principal upscale resort area. Twenty-five golf courses have been built since 1991 by designers such as Jack Nicklaus, P.B. Dye, Tom Fazio, Nick Faldo and Nick Price. Punta Espada at Cap Cana and Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Campo generally make lists of the world’s best courses.

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