Santo Domingo (officially Santo Domingo de Guzman) is Dominican Republic's capital and largest city, with population around 965,000. By metro population (over 3,9 milliom), the city is ranked Caribbean's largest metro area. This is also the New World's oldest colonial port city - founded by Columbus in 1496. The country's other major cruise port (La Romana) is approx 80 km (50 mi).
Port's harbor is located at the mouth of Ozama River. It has capacity to handle the world's largest container ships, serving heavy passenger (ferries and cruise) and cargo shipping traffic. The port was originally located on Ozama River's east bank, in 1502 was moved to the river's west bank.
The city was Spain's first seat of the empire's colonial rule in the new territories. The Old Town ("Colonial Zone" / UNESCO World Heritage Site) features the New World's first fortress (Panteon Nacional), castle (Alcazar Castle), cathedral (La Catedral Primada de America), monastery (Monasterio de San Francisco) and university (Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo / UASD). Royal Houses Museum displays Taino Indian artifacts. Modern attractions include Botanical Gardens, zoo, various parks (including some very large), the south coast beach resorts Juan Dolio and Boca Chica, Columbus Lighthouse (at Mirador del Este).
In the period 1936-1961, the city was named Ciudad Trujillo - after the country's dictator Rafael Trujillo (1891-1961, in office between 1930-1938). Santo Domingo is Dominican Republic's political, financial, commercial and industrial center, as well as the country's main seaport.
The city is the terminus for 4 of the country's all 5 highways. It is connected to the southwest by highway DR-2, to the northwest by highway DR-1 (direct link to Santiago de los Caballeros). to the east by highway DR-3 (linking it to San Pedro de Macorís, La Romana, Punta Cana, Bavaro) and to the northeast by Samana Highway. City's common modes of transport are motorcycle taxis (called motoconchos), low-quality public buses (called guaguas) and shared taxis (called conchos).
Pico Darte (over 10,000 ft is the tallest mountain in West Indies. The first inhabitants of the isle were Taino Indians. In 1496, Santo Domingo became the first permanent European settlement in the New World. It was not until 1697 that Treaty of Ryswick was signed, giving the island's western portion to France. In 1870, Dominicans tried to annex their isle to the US, but the US Senate turned down the proposal.