Key Historical Events. On 5 Dec. 1492 Columbus discovered the island of Hispaniola (at times also known as Santo Domingo and Quisqueya). The city of Santo Domingo, founded by his brother, Bartholomew, in 1496, is the oldest city in the Americas. The western third of the island—now the Republic of Haiti—was later occupied and colonized by the French. The Spanish colony declared its independence in 1821. It was occupied by Haiti from 1822 to 1844, when the Dominican Republic was founded and a constitution adopted. The country was occupied by the USA from 1916 until 1924. In 1930 Rafael Trujillo established a dictatorship which lasted until his assassination in May 1961. The deposition of the president in 1965 led to civil war and a second US intervention. Joaquín Balaguer was elected president in 1966 and a new constitution was promulgated.
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