Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Santo Domingo, population 2,061,200 (2003), is the capital of the Dominican Republic. The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, at the mouth of the Ozama River. It is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas, and was the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World.
The city was founded between the years 1496 and 1498, as Santo Domingo de Guzmán, by Bartolomeo Columbus (Bartolomé Colón), brother of Christopher Columbus, on the eastern bank of the Ozama River, and extended to the western bank in 1502 by the governor Friar Nicolás de Ovando. The city served as a model for other colonial cities of the New World. In 1508, Ferdinand II of Aragon gave the city the coat of arms with the emblem of "First City of the Indies."
Inside the colonial city, the first citadel (Fortaleza Ozama), the first hospital (hospital de San Nicolás de Bari), the first cathedral (Primada de América), and the first monastery (Monasterio de San Francisco) in the Western Hemisphere were built.
In 1538, construction began on the oldest university in the New World. It was named Santo Tomás de Aquino, in honor of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and still survives as the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD).
A tomb in the cathedral was reputed to be the final resting place of Christopher Columbus, but the remains (the authenticity of which is disputed, with Spain also claiming to have a set of Columbus's bones) were moved to the Faro A Colón (Columbus Lighthouse) in 1990.
The city was sacked by Sir Francis Drake in 1586, and was almost completely destroyed by a hurricane in 1930. It was rebuilt and renamed Ciudad Trujillo, after dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, but the original name was restored almost immediately after his assassination in 1961.
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