The Dominican Republic is the second largest nation in the Caribbean. It shares the island of Hispaniola, situated between Puerto Rico and Cuba, with Haiti. The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island and Haiti occupies the western portion. To the north is the Atlantic Ocean and to the south is the Caribbean Sea.
The Dominican Republic has a semitropical climate, with an average yearly temperature of 26°C (78°F). The rainy season is from May to November, with rainfall heaviest in the northern regions and lighter in the southwest. The hurricane season lasts from June until November, with August and September being the peak months.
The Dominican Republic is geographically diverse for its size, having extensive beaches of white sand, evergreen forests in the highlands, fertile valleys with exuberant vegetation, and even desert zones with dune formations. Its mineral resources include nickel, bauxite, gold and silver.
The country is crossed by four parallel mountain ranges running northwest to southeast, with fertile valleys in between. The largest is the Cordillera Central, extending from northwest of Santo Domingo into Haiti. Its peak, Pico Duarte, is 3,175 metres high. It is the highest point in the Caribbean and is often covered with frost during the winter. Along the north coast is the Cordillera Septentrional. South of the Cordillera Central are the Sierra de Neiba and the Sierra de Bahoruco ranges. Between the Sierra de Neiba and the Sierra de Bahoruco is Lake Enriquillo, the largest natural lake in the country, with the lowest elevation in the Caribbean islands. It is also the only salt water lake in the world inhabited by crocodiles.
The country is divided into 31 provinces and one district, in which Santo Domingo, the capital, is located. Other important cities are Santiago, San Pedro de Macorís, La Romana, Puerto Plata, Barahona, La Vega, San Francisco de Macorís, and Higüey.
There are maritime ports in Barahona, La Romana, Manzanillo, Puerto Plata, San Pedro de Macorís, and Santo Domingo. The Caucedo Peninsula, near Santo Domingo, is now home to a new state-of-the-art container terminal facility. The country has seven international airports and three for domestic flights.