History Files

The Americas

Central American Colonial Settlements


Spanish Colonies in the Americas (Hispaniola / Kiskeya)
AD 1492 - 1691

When Christopher Columbus first landed in the Bahamas on 12 October 1492 he began a process of colonisation and empire-building on the part of Spain. By 5 December 1492, Columbus had arrived at western Hispaniola, where he founded the colony of La Navidad and became its first viceroy. Then he sailed to eastern Cuba. This became the launch-pad for the creation of New Spain, created when the greatest Aztec city, Tenochtitlan, was defeated in 1521. European colonisation of central and South American could begin in earnest.

The name Hispaniola comes from the Spanish 'La Espanola' ('the Spanish island'). Hispaniola was home to the first permanent European settlements in the Americas. Cuba, lying to the west, while not technically a part of Hispaniola, was closely linked to it, and was used as a launch pad for the conquest of Mexico. While it formed the springboard for Spanish conquests on the American mainland, once those conquests had been made, interest in Hispaniola noticeably waned.

Today Hispaniola is an island within the Antilles, the most populous and the second-largest, with Puerto Rico lying to the east. Politically, the island is divided between Haiti (the western third of the island) and the Dominican Republic (in the east).

(Additional information from The New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual, C E Bosworth (2004).)

c.AD 600?

The seafaring Taino people, a division of the Arawak group of American natives, probably arrive on the island around this date, possibly displacing earlier inhabitants. They name the island Kiskeya or Quisqueya, 'mother of the earth', and survive through a mixture of hunting, fishing, and farming.


On the eve of the arrival of the first Europeans, the Taino people have a settled society which is divided into five chiefdoms.

Taino native peoples
The Taino natives lived on Hispaniola, plus Cuba and Puerto Rica, for over nine hundred years before the coming of the Spanish colonists


Christopher Columbus first lands in the Bahamas on 12 October in a three-ship expedition from Spain. He is initially credited with being the first European to reach the Americas, although he uses a route that sailors have been aware of for at least a generation. Later, the Icelandic Viking, Leif Ericson, is credited with the discovery around 1003. (The undocumented voyage of Prince Madog of Gwynedd is placed at 1170, making him the second discoverer of the Americas.) By 5 December, Columbus arrives at western Hispaniola, where he founds the colony of La Navidad. Then he sails to eastern Cuba.

1492 - 1499

Christopher Columbus

First Spanish viceroy or governor of the Indies.

pre-1492 - 1500?

Chief Guacanagari

Taino chief in west (Haiti). Refused to support Taino revolts.


On his second voyage, Christopher Columbus lands in eastern Hispaniola. La Navidad's inhabitants having been massacred and the settlement abandoned, he founds the first permanent Spanish colony of La Isabela. After initial friendliness from the Xaragua chiefdom, the Taino revolt against the newcomers, and these revolts are put down one by one:


The Treaty of Tordesillas of 7 June 1494 effectively divides half the known world, including the New World, into Spanish and Portuguese areas of influence. It ignores all other European powers in the process, so they ignore the treaty in return. It gives Portugal the opportunity to exploit Brazil, and also serves to confirm Portuguese domination in Morocco, amongst many other places, while meaning that the Spanish can pursue their own New World interests without interruption (or so they think).

pre-1496 - ?

Chief Behechio of Xaragua

Chief in south-west (Haiti).

pre-1496 - 1504

Chief Anacaona of Xaragua

Sister, equal, and successor. Executed in front of her people.

1499 - 1502

Francisco de Bobadilla

Spanish governor of the Indies. Killed at sea.

1500 - 1502

Columbus is stripped of the titles and privileges he had been granted for his explorations, following accusations of tyrannical governorship, and is replaced as governor of the Indies. At the age of 53 he is chained and shipped back to Spain where he and his two brothers are cleared and restored. Columbus is never again allowed a command in the Indies, although he is allowed to sail again, skirting the coast of Nicaragua and claiming Panama for Spain in 1502.

The governate of New Andalusia is created and maintained between 1501-1513, centred largely on what is now Venezuela - or at least its coastal strip. That is absorbed into the Spanish settlement region of Castilla de Oro from its official incorporation in 1513 (roughly northern Columbia and western Venezuela), only to be downgraded with the creation of the province of Nicaragua in 1524.

fl c.1500

Chief Caonabo of Maguana

Husband of Anacaona. Chief in centre & south (Haiti).

Chief (or cacique) Caonabo is captured by the Spanish for an attack and is shipped off to Spain. Along the way the ship is wrecked and Caonabo is lost. Soon after, while a feast is underway in honour of Anacaona, the Spanish set fire to the meeting house. Anacaona and other Taino nobles are arrested and executed, with the queen being hanged in front of her people at the age of 29.

Chief Guama

Taino rebel chief. Possibly the same as in Cuba?

1502 - 1509

Nicolas de Ovando y Caceres

Spanish governor of the Indies.

1502 - 1503

In 1502 the new Spanish governor, Nicolas de Ovando y Caceres, arrives at Hispaniola on a fleet of thirty ships which carries 2,500 colonists. With him is conquistador Francisco Pizarro. The following year another conquistador, Hernan, or Hernando, Cortes, also arrives from Spain.

1504 - 1508

Following his arrival in the Americas in 1493 and a possible return to Spain, in 1504, Juan Ponce de Leon is made governor of part of eastern Hispaniola. Between 1506-1508, lured by reports of fertile land and rivers of gold, he explores Puerto Rico and is made its first governor by the Spanish crown.


Cortes takes part in the Spanish conquest of Hispaniola and Cuba, receiving a large estate as his reward.

1509 - 1518

Diego Columbus

Son of Christopher. Spanish governor of the Indies (viceroy 1511).

fl c.1510

Chief Hatuey

Fled to Cuba to help fight the Spanish settlers there.


Cortes supports Diego Velazquez de Cuellar, aide to the governor of Hispaniola, in completing the conquest of Cuba. Manoeuvring himself out of the viceroy's control, Diego Velazquez is made the first governor of Cuba.


Vasco Nunez de Balboa (governor of Panama) and Francisco Pizarro (later governor of Peru) cross the Isthmus of Panama, leading the first European expedition to see the Pacific from the west coast of the New World. Once there, Balboa claims the Pacific Ocean and all the lands adjoining it for Spain.

1513 - 1514

An expedition to discover rumoured lands to the north under Juan Ponce de Leon gets underway on 4 March 1513. On 2 April land is sighted which is named Florida. Eventually Ponce de Leon makes landfall on the western coast, probably in the vicinity of Charlotte Harbour or Tampa Bay. After returning briefly to Puerto Rico and then Spain, Ponce de Leon is confirmed as governor of Florida.

1517 - 1521

Two expeditions are sent by Diego Velazquez de Cuellar, first Spanish lieutenant-governor of Cuba, in 1517 and 1518 towards the Yucatan peninsula to discover and then trade with the Mayans. The first expedition, under Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, is perhaps surprised to witness the sophistication of the Mayans in comparison to the less developed natives the Spanish have so far encountered on the islands.

The somewhat unreliable Spanish conquistador Hernan, or Hernando, Cortes is elected captain of the third expedition to the mainland from the colony of Cuba, just west of Hispaniola, an expedition which he partially funds. He and his force of 600 land in the Yucatan peninsula in Mayan territory in 1519, but they soon arrive at Tenochtitlan where they show their true nature and are chased out amid heavy fighting.

Also in 1519 Panama City is founded on the mainland and within two years the focus of Spanish attentions passes to the west and New Spain is born. By now the number of Taino natives on Hispaniola has been drastically cut to a little under six per cent of their original number due to the import of European disease and Spanish mistreatment. The labour shortage caused by this prompts the colonists to begin to import slaves from Africa.

1518 - 1524

Diego Velazquez de Cuellar

Also lieutenant-governor of Cuba.

1519 - 1533

Chief Enriquillo

Nephew of Anacaona and probably her successor.

1521 - 1535

Cuba experiences an exodus of settlers as they flood into New Spain's mainland territories. By 1535 a political reorganisation of the Indies places Cuba under the direct administration of New Spain, ending the governorship of the Indies. Cortes himself is the first governor of the conquered Aztec city of Tenochtitlan.

1522 - 1533

After being orphaned by the Spanish during the attack which had killed his father and which had led to the execution of his aunt, Anacaona, in about 1504, Taino chief Enriquillo is raised in a monastery. As a rebel chief, he fights the Spanish in the Baoruco Mountain Range and is moderately successful. The Taino there remain free for some time.


The Spanish king orders the population to move towards the capital, Santo Domingo, in an attempt to avoid their interaction with the ever-increasing number of Caribbean pirates. In fact, this leaves much of the island empty for Dutch, English, and French pirates to establish new bases.

1627 - 1634

Diego de Acuna

Former captain general of Guatemala (1627-1634).


King Louis XIV officially recognises French colonies on the island. From 1691, French governors control the colony of Saint-Dominigue which is ceded to France by Spain in 1697 under the terms of the Treaty of Ryswick.

French Saint-Dominigue
AD 1691 - 1803

Hispaniola had left the door open for non-Spanish colonists from 1606, when it withdrew its citizens from the countryside. In 1665, the French King Louis XIV officially recognised newly established French colonies on the island, and from 1691, French governors controlled the colony of Saint-Dominigue. It was officially ceded to France by Spain in 1697 under the terms of the Treaty of Ryswick, and this section of the island quickly became the richest and most prosperous, under the nickname, 'Pearl of the Antilles'. It also set the division of the island in stone, with those divisions remaining in place today as Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

1691 - 1700

Jean-Baptiste Ducasse

First French governor.


As part of the Treaty of Ryswick, Spain formally cedes the western third of the island to France. The French rule it as Saint-Domingue (modern Haiti), and it prospers far more than the eastern section of the island which the Spanish retain under the name of Santo Domingo (modern Dominican Republic).

Jean-Baptiste Ducasse
Jean-Baptiste Ducasse, the first French governor of Saint-Domingue in 1691

1700 - 1703

Joseph d'Honon de Gallifet

Acting governor.

1703 - 1705

Charles Auger

1705 - 1707

Jean-Pierre de Charritte

Acting governor.

1707 - 1710

François Joseph

1710 - 1711

Jean-Pierre de Charritte

Second term of office.


Laurent de Valernod

1711 - 1712

Nicolas de Gabaret

1712 - 1713

Paul François de La Grange

1713 - 1714

Louis de Courbon

1714 - 1717

Louis de Courbon

First French governor-general.

1717 - 1719

Charles Joubert de la Bastide

1719 - 1723

Léon, marquis de Sorel

1723 - 1731

Gaspard Charles de Goussé

1731 - 1732

Antoine Gabriel


Étienne Cochard de Chastenoy

Acting governor.

1732 - 1737

Pierre, marquis de Fayet


Étienne Cochard de Chastenoy

Second term of office as acting governor.

1737 - 1746

Charles de Brunier

1746 - 1748

Étienne Cochard de Chastenoy

Third term of office as acting governor.

1748 - 1751

Hubert de Brienne

1751 - 1753

Emmanuel Auguste de Cahideux du Bois

1753 - 1757

Joseph Hyacinthe de Rigaud

1757 - 1762

Philippe François Bart

1762 - 1763

Gabriel de Bory de Saint-Vincent


Armand, vicomte de Belzunce

1763 - 1764

Pierre André de Gohin

Acting governor.

1764 - 1766

Charles Henri

1766 - 1769

Louis Armand Constantin de Rohan

1769 - 1772

Pierre Gédéon


De la Ferronays

Acting governor.

1772 - 1775

Louis Florent


Jean-François, comte de Reynaud

Acting governor.

1775 - 1776

Victor Thérèse Charpentier

1776 - 1777

Jean-Baptiste de Taste de Lilancour

Acting governor.

1777 - 1780

Robert, comte d'Argout


Jean-Baptiste de Taste de Lilancour

Second term of office as acting governor.

1780 - 1781


Second term of office.

1781 - 1782

Jean-Baptiste de Taste de Lilancour

Third term of office as acting governor.

1782 - 1785

Guillaume de Bellecombe

1785 - 1786

Gui Pierre de Coustard

1786 - 1787

César Henri

1787 - 1788

Alexandre de Vincent de Mazade

1788 - 1789

Marie Charles


Alexandre de Vincent de Mazade

Second term of office as acting governor.

1789 - 1790

Louis Antoine Thomassin

1790 - 1792

Philibert F Rouxel de Blanchelande


Adrien Nicolas


Jean Jacques P d'Esparbès de Lussan

1792 - 1793

Donatien M Joseph de Vimeur


Léger Félicité Sonthonax



François Galbaud du Fort

1793 - 1796

Étienne Maynaud Bizefranc


Britain occupies areas of the island as part of its war efforts against Revolutionary France. The commanders in charge of the island are shown here in red. However, they faced constant armed opposition from former slaves led by Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and Henri Christophe. By 1798, the British have been forced to withdraw and Toussaint Louverture is virtual master of the island.

1793 - 1795

John Whitelocke

1795 - 1796

Adam Williamson


The French Directory is established on 3 November 1795, headed by Paul Barras. France's Revolutionary Wars against the monarchies of Europe begins to carve out a new empire for the country, both at home and abroad, where the entire island of Hispaniola is gained from Spain under the terms of the Treaty of Basel. The Netherlands is also invaded and the puppet Batavian Republic set up, and subsequently a peace agreement is sealed with Prussia and Spain. Hessen-Homburg falls under near-constant French military occupation, having to pay contributions to the French war effort. Slaves on Hispaniola under the command of Toussaint Louverture are soon in revolt against their new French masters.

1796 - 1797

Gordon Forbes

1796 - 1797

Léger Félicité Sonthonax

Second term of office as commissioner.


John Graves Simcoe

1797 - 1798

John Whyte


Thomas Maitland

1797 - 1802



Gabriel M Théodore-Joseph Hédouville


1801 - 1804

Toussaint Louverture captures Santo Domingo from the French and takes control of all of Hispaniola. An army is sent by Napoleon Bonaparte to regain the island, and Louverture is sent back a prisoner. His successors, aided by the ever-present threat of yellow fever, regain the west of the island in 1804. The French are expelled and the independence of Haiti is declared. The French manage to recover Santo Domingo in the east.


Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc

1802 - 1803

Donatien Marie Joseph de Vimeur

Second term of office.


Jean-Jacques Dessalines

Became first governor-general of Haiti.

1808 - 1810

Following the French invasion of Spain, the people of Santo Domingo revolt against French rule, and manage to restore Spanish control with help from Britain and Haiti.

1810 - 1822

Jose Nunez de Caceres

Governor of Spanish Santo Domingo.

1821 - 1822

Various plots to make Spanish Santo Domingo independent have already failed when on 30 November 1821 Jose Nunez de Caceres declares the colony to be independent as the state of Spanish Haiti (Haiti Espanol). Nine weeks later, Haitian forces invade and annexe the colony, bringing to an end over 300 years of mostly Spanish rule.

Modern Haiti
AD 1804 - Present Day

An extremely poor republic occupying the western third of the island of Hispaniola, the name 'Haiti' was originally used by the Taino natives who occupied the island before the arrival of Christopher Columbus (Ayti meaning 'mountain land' and referring to the entire island). It was they who put up the strongest resistance to Spanish conquest, and the name was revived by the Haitian revolutionary, Jean-Jacques Dessalines. French occupation of Haiti was finally thrown off in 1804 and Haiti was declared independent. The people of Haiti still revere Anacaona of Xaragua, one of the best-known Taino chiefs.

(Additional information from External Link: President's assassination (The Guardian).

1804 - 1806

African-descended revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines is the successor to Toussaint Louverture (captured by the French). He declares the independence of French Saint-Domingue on 1 January and restores the country's original Taino name of Haiti. Dessalines is proclaimed governor for life by his troops, but after ruling as a despot he is assassinated on 17 October 1806. The country is divided into a kingdom in the north and a republic in the south, but is quickly reunited under the new president, Jean-Pierre Boyer.


Jean-Jacques Dessalines

North: Governor-general, Jan-Sep.

1804 - 1806

Jacques I

North: Emperor

1806 - 1807

Henry Christophe

North: Provisional Chief of the Haitian Government

1807 - 1811

Henry Christophe

North: President

1811 - 1820

Henry I

North: King


The northern Haitian state is extinguished with the death of King Henry, and is reabsorbed into the rest of Haiti.


Haitian forces led by Jean-Pierre Boyer (second president of the republic) invade Santo Domingo in the east when it declares independence from Spanish rule. The state of Haiti now covers the entire island of Hispaniola.


France sends a fleet to recapture the island, and the president is forced to buy Haiti's continued independence with a treaty and money by which means France recognises that independence. A long series of coups follows the end of Boyer's presidency.


The Dominican Republic is formed to the east when two-thirds of the island revolt and gain independence from Haiti under a Dominican rebel movement called La Trinitaria. Frequent Haitian invasions in the 1840s and 1850s fail to re-conquer it.

1847 - 1859

Faustin I Soulouque

Proclaimed emperor after two years as president. Abdicated.


Pedro Santana relinquishes his position as president of the Dominican Republic and is replaced by his former minister of war and marine matters, Manuel José Jimenes González. In the same year, the forces of soon-to-be Emperor Faustin invade, and President Jimenes is forced to appeal to Santana for military assistance. The Haitians are thrown back across the border and Santana overthrows Jimenes.


Emperor Faustin attempts again to reconquer the lost Dominican lands during the Dominican War of Independence in 1857. His forces are again defeated, notably at the Battle of Las Carreras.

1863 - 1865

Opponents to the return of Spanish rule in the Dominican Republic launch the Restoration War. Haiti, fearful of the return of the Spanish, gives aid to the revolutionaries.

1915 - 1934

The USA occupies Haiti in an attempt to stabilise it and impose a lasting government.

Palace of Justice in Haiti
The US occupation of Haiti in 1912 in an attempt to provide the fractious nation with a less brutal or unreliable level of government included taking the Palace of Justice


President Trujillo of the Dominican Republic has his army massacre all Haitians living there, between 17,000-35,000 of them. As a result, Haiti is paid compensation.

1957 - 1986

Following the resignation of President Magliore, the Duvalier family rule the country as dictators under a series of provisional governments. The Duvaliers are overthrown by a popular uprising in 1986.

1957 - 1971

François Duvalier / Papa Doc

'President for life' from 1964.

1971 - 1986

Jean-Claude Duvalier / Baby Doc


1990 - 1994

Former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide wins the elections, taking power on 7 February 1991. A no-confidence vote sees him resign and fly off into exile while the country is left in chaos. In 1994, a US mission helps restore Aristide until 1995.

2000 - 2004

Aristide is re-elected in a vote which appears to be the result of massive fraud. He flies into exile for a second time in 2004. In the same year, severe floods in the south-west of the Dominican Republic, and in parts of Haiti itself, leave more than 2,000 dead or disappeared. Two years later, after a period of interim authority, a new president of Haiti is elected.


Haiti, with nearly the same population figure as the Dominican Republic but half the land space, bears the unenviable reputation of being the poorest country in the western hemisphere.


Haiti's president is assassinated, and the murder appears to be inspired by foreign elements. Six people, including one US citizen, are subsequently arrested and seven are reportedly killed as Haitian security forces pursued the gunmen responsible. President Jovenel Moïse had been killed in his own home, while his wife had been seriously injured. However, the confused political situation which his authoritarian leadership had produced means that no one is immediately certain of who now governs the country.

Modern Dominican Republic
AD 1844 - Present Day

The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola. Together with Haiti, the island forms part of the Greater Antilles chain, with Cuba and Jamaica to the west and Puerto Rico to the east, while across the Caribbean Sea to the south lies Venezuela and to the north-west are the Bahamas.

The republic boasts the very first permanently-settled European capital city in the Americas. On his voyage of discovery (or rather confirmation of what many seafarers already knew existed), Christopher Columbus first landed in the Bahamas on 12 October 1492, with a three-ship expedition from Spain. By 5 December, the expedition had arrived at western Hispaniola, where Columbus founded the colony of La Navidad. The name, Hispaniola, comes from the Spanish 'La Espanola' ('the Spanish island'), while the island formed the springboard for subsequent Spanish conquests on the American mainland. Hispaniola slowly became less important after that, although the native Taino had to be taught a severe lesson in obedience when they revolted against the Spanish takeover of their lands.

In 1665, the French Bourbons established colonies on the island, and it was officially ceded to France in 1697, as Saint-Dominigue. In 1804 the island became Haiti, an independent entity ruled by former slaves. But Haiti endured a troubled existence, and the Dominican Republic was formed from part of its territory on 27 February 1844 following a successful revolt. While independence brought initial optimism and a constitution modelled on that of the USA, peace wasn't long-lasting, and the country's people suffered under frequently tyrannical governments until very recently. Most of the state's population bears Taino ancestry in mixed form.

(Additional information from Manuel Jimenez, Independence Leader, Jimenes José Antonio Hernández, 2001, and from External Links: Familia Figuero, and the Gallery of Presidents of the Dominican Republic (dead link), and BBC Country Profiles.)

1844 - 1848

Between March and November 1844 the country is governed by a central government board that is headed by a president and eleven other members. Then Pedro Santana, a wealthy cattle-rancher, is elected as the country's first true president, and the future for the Dominican Republic looks bright.

Battle of 19th March 1844
The Dominican War of Independence saw the country's 1844 declaration of independence underlined by victory against Haiti at the Battle of 19th March [1844]


Santana relinquishes his position as president and is replaced by his former minister of war and marine matters, Manuel José Jimenes González. In the same year, the forces of soon-to-be Emperor Faustin of Haiti invade, and President Jimenes is forced to appeal to Santana for military assistance. The Haitians are thrown back across the border and Santana overthrows Jimenes.

1848 - 1849

Pedro Santana

Seized the presidency. Supreme chief in 1849.

1849 - 1853

New elections see Buenaventura Báez become the president of the republic. His first term of office sees him attempt several times to have the republic annexed to a larger country, notably France and the USA. He is deposed, inevitably, by Pedro Santana during a coup.

1853 - 1856

Pedro Santana

Seized the presidency for a second time.

1856 - 1857

Buenaventura Báez is the elected president for the second time from 1856. The Haitians under Emperor Faustin are again defeated during the Dominican War of Independence in 1857, notably at the Battle of Las Carreras, and the president is deposed in a coup in the same year. His office is filled in 1858 by another elected president, José Desiderio Valverde Pérez. Just a year later he is replaced (or succeeded) by Pedro Santana.

1858 - 1861

Pedro Santana

Presidency for a third time.

1861 - 1863

The republic becomes the only ex-colonial country in South America or central America to voluntarily revert to being a colony. The country's leader, Pedro Santana signs a pact with Spain to hand the territory back.

1861 - 1862

Pedro Santana

Captain-general under Spanish rule. Died 1864.

1862 - 1863

Felipe Ribero

Captain-general under Spanish rule.

1863 - 1864

Carlos de Vargas

Captain-general under Spanish rule.

1864 - 1865

José de la Gándara

Captain-general under Spanish rule.

1863 - 1865

Opponents to the return of Spanish rule launch the Restoration War, aided in part by Haiti. After two years of fighting, Spain abandons the island. During the war, in 1864, the last account of the existence of Taino natives in their original form is made when a Spanish soldier records them firing at him. Internal strife follows in the country, with rule by warlords and military revolts being common. Pedro Antonio Pimentel becomes the first president of a newly re-independent Dominican Republic, the second republic, but his term of office is brief, being limited entirely to four and-a-half months in 1865.


José María Cabral

General and supreme chief of the republic.


Pedro Guillermo

President of the provisional government junta.

1866 - 1868

A brief return to an elected president in late 1865 is halted on 29 May 1866. The triumvirate is formed of Pedro Antonio Pimentel (briefly president in 1865) and two others, which oversees new elections and two subsequent presidents between 1866 and 1868.


The presidency is terminated yet again, on 13 February, and a junta of generals oversees the country's governance. New elections are held and, on 2 May 1868, Buenaventura Báez, the former rival and fellow revolutionary of Pedro Santana, returns to office for the first time since 1857. His term as president is unusually long-lasting.


President Buenaventura Baez makes one of many bids to join his country to another. With the support of the US president, he plans to have the republic annexed to the USA, but the bid is derailed by the American Senate, by just one vote.

1874 - 1876

Ignacio María González

Seized the presidency. Supreme chief (Jan). General-in-chief.


Ignacio María González ends a period of fairly stable presidency on 2 January 1874. He becomes supreme chief of the republic and is joined by fellow general-in-chief Manuel Altagracia Cáceres on 22 January. This lasts until 6 April, when Ignacio María González assumes the office of president in a term of office that lasts until 1876.


Again the presidential office is replaced by imposed rule, this time from the council of secretaries of state, which is formed of six people. Ulises Francisco Espaillat succeeds this as president for all of five months or so (29 April to 5 October 1876) before being replaced by a superior governing junta. This is formed of seven members and itself is replaced by Ignacio María González as supreme chief.


Ignacio María González

Supreme chief (Nov-Dec).


Marcos Antonio Cabral

President of the provisional government junta (Dec).

1876 - 1879

The presidential office resumes again, now with Buenaventura Baez returned to the post. He manages to last for two entire years this time around, before being deposed in another coup and this time he is exiled to the Spanish colony of Puerto Rico. A council of secretaries of state in 1878 returns not one but two very short-lived presidents in the same year, followed by another authoritarian body called the people's military chiefs and then Jacinto de Castro as acting president. He in turn is replaced by another council of secretaries of state which survives into 1879 and then a seemingly more stable presidency which remains uninterrupted for several years.


A run of uninterrupted if sometimes difficult presidencies (such as one that ends in assassination) is halted. A five-man council of secretaries of state is formed on 30 August 1899. It lasts for a day before being replaced by the four-man people's revolutionary governing junta. On 4 September a president of the provisional junta is selected, and on 15 November fresh elections see Juan Isidro Jimenes Pereyra become president.

1902 - 1906

Following a period of relative peace and even some prosperity over the previous twenty years, instability returns to the country with many short-lived governments taking control. A provisional junta rules in 1902-1903, followed by two short-lived presidential terms.In 1906, as part of action to keep the European powers out of the area, the USA enters into a fifty year treaty which transfers the country's customs administration out of the Dominican Republic's hands. The proceeds from this help to pay off some of the country's massive debt.

1916 - 1924

The USA has already occupied Haiti in an attempt to stabilise it and impose a lasting government. It also threatens an equally unstable Santo Domingo. US Marines land on 19 May 1916 and within three months they secure effective control of the country. In November the USA proclaims a military government. Between 1917-1921 the marines have to fight a determined guerrilla action in the east of the country, led by Vicente Evangelista. Eventually the guerrillas yield. In 1921-1922, the Harding Plan effects a gradual withdrawal of US forces and a return to local control. The 1924 elections see Dominicans fully in control once again of a country that is stable and prosperous.


Violence returns to the republic during new elections. President Horacio Vazquez is overthrown, and Rafael Trujillo's regime of tight control and profiteering takes over. There is still economic growth, however.

1930 - 1961

Rafael Trujillo

Dictator of one of the bloodiest regimes of the century. Killed.


Trujillo has the army massacre all Haitians living in the republic, between 17,000-35,000 of them (figures vary). As a result, Haiti is paid compensation.

Rafael Trujillo
Rafael Trujillo, a particularly blood-soaked dictator of the Dominican republic during one of the world's bloodiest centuries, who met an appropriate end at the hands of an assassin

1961 - 1963

After a career spent eliminating his political opponents and murdering border Haitians, Trujillo is assassinated on 30 May 1961. Two years later a democratically-elected government takes charge before being overthrown in a military coup.


Víctor Elby Viñas Román

Chairman of the provisional junta.

1963 - 1966

Víctor Elby Viñas gives way to a ruling triumvirate which is replaced on 25 April 1965 by a revolutionary committee. It takes a landing by US marines and occupation by them and other states from the Americas to bring about a free and fair election in 1966. Thanks to the 'Dominican Intervention', the country finally gains a degree of stability.

1978 - 2000

This period is one of generally improving civil rights and stable governments. Elections are generally fair (except in 1994 when national and international opinion forces a re-election in 1996).


Two hurricanes leave more than 200,0000 people homeless and cause damage worth a billion dollars as the economy continues to deteriorate due to high fuel prices and low sugar prices.


IMF-prescribed austerity measures, including price rises for basic foods and petrol, lead to widespread riots.

2003 - 2004

In November deadly clashes between police and protesters take place during demonstrations against high prices and power cuts. Two months later, demonstrations about economic policies leave at least five dead. In 2004, severe floods in the south-west, and in parts of neighbouring Haiti, leave more than 2,000 dead or disappeared.