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Dominican Republic - Expo Paris 1889

Dominican Republic at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1889
Architect(s) : Courtois, Suffit

This is the first time that this tiny republic has appeared at an Exhibition, but it may be said that it has succeeded in gaining a very honourable place at the first attempt. It is true that it has the good fortune to have as its minister in Paris Mr. Baron de Alméda, who is a man of wit and good taste, and - what does not spoil anything - very rich.

The pavilion of the Dominican Republic, built by Messrs Courtois and Suffit, architects, covers an area of about 200 metres. The cost amounts to about fifty thousand francs, provided by the Republic as well as by individuals and members of the Committee of which Baron de Alméda is the president.

The visitors will find in the interior of this pretty pavilion samples of all the products of the country; wood of the islands, coffees, cocoa, sugars, tobaccos, ores, waxes, etc., and, what is more worthy of note, manufactured products, such as soaps, rums, alcohols, etc.

The various districts of the Dominican Republic: Santo-Domingo, Puerto-Plata, Samana, Azua, Bayahouda, etc., made a point of taking part in this Exhibition, as did a large number of traders from Le Havre and Paris who have business relations with this country.

Guide Bleu du Figaro et du Petit Journal 1889

This part of the island of Haiti or Saint-Domingue, was formerly, under the name of Hispaniola, in a very great state of prosperity. It extends over two thirds of the island.

The capital, Santo-Domingo, which today has 12,000 inhabitants, was a superb city built in 1496, shortly after the arrival of Christopher Columbus who landed in San-Salvador, named Guanahani, on October 12, 1492, Christopher returned to Spain via Cuba, Haiti and Puerto Rico. He left many traces of his passage in the island of Santo Domingo.

The State, which corresponds to the former Spanish colony and today has 150,000 inhabitants, wanted to take part in the great international commercial tournament of the Exhibition, on the initiative of its minister in Paris, Baron de Alméda, to whom much of the success of this particular exhibition is due, which he has presented with rare intelligence.

For this exhibition is doubly interesting. Firstly, because of its products, and above all because of the proof that this region is making every effort to recover its former splendour. Let the political revolutions cease, and the future looks bright for the Dominican Republic!

Indeed, there are not only natural products there, but also the products of real industries, very important.

First of all, there is a very fine exhibition of wood, especially furniture wood: mahogany, cedar, coabanilla wood, a hard wood similar to the pear tree, sangano wood and quebrahacha, which can compete with the most beautiful rosewoods. Dubois de gayac, which is used to make the rudder wheels of boats.

The centre of the island, very mountainous, including the Cibao massif dominated by the Yaque peak, contains quantities of various mines. The soil is cultivable up to the top of these volcanic mountains.

There are mines of rock salt, phosphates and especially gold quartz mines, which are very rich in precious materials.

Thus the gold-bearing quartz of the Mana concession contains 39-92 - and up to 300 grams of gold per 1,000 kilograms and those of the Santa-Rosa concession: 650 grams of gold per 1,000 kilograms.

These various mines are all grouped around the town of Santo-Domingo. To the north are the Mana and Isabella concessions, to the northeast the Anacona concession, to the northwest the Santa-Rosa concession.

The alluvium of the Isabella River is also auriferous. Several photographs show the negroes washing these alluviums to remove the small nuggets of gold. There are even some rather large ones removed in this way; one of those exhibited is about the diameter of a 50-franc coin, but three times as thick.

There is also a very fine exhibition of local animals, birds with bright plumage, especially used for ladies' hats. There is something for every taste, from the simplest to the most eccentric. There are red ibises, lophophores, manucods, purple herons, superb gulls and grey pelicans. Several houses in Paris exhibited these products from Santo Domingo.

And as a counterpart, another house exhibited leather goods made from crocodile skins, also from this region, as well as the latest objects made from tortoiseshell, of which there are very nice samples.

But all this is natural products, let's move on to industrial products.

First, there is sugar. The exploitation of sugar cane is now done on a very large scale. There are several companies. Of course, rum is also produced in fairly large quantities, as well as ordinary alcohol.

Sugar cane (saccharum offîcinarum) is a very valuable grass, as it provides many things for the natives. It has a stem of 3 to 4 metres in height. The lower part of the stem contains the sugar product, the proportion of which is 17 to 20/0. The top of the plant is cut off before it flowers and is used to make cuttings.

In addition to the rum, a kind of wax called cerosia is also extracted from the cane. There are huge blocks of this wax in the Dominican exhibition. Finally, the fibres of the cane are used to make cloth and clothes.

The coffee of this country is a mixture of bourbon and especially mocha. It is still one of the main branches of trade in the country, as well as cocoa.

The soap industry has made great progress, especially in Samana.

Apart from cane wax, there is also beeswax.

Finally, the preparation of tobacco is one of the most prosperous branches of the industry and produces excellent cigars.

The main cities that have exhibited are: La Vega, Monte-Christo, Macoris, Agua, Santo Domingo, Puerto-Plata, Samana, Moca, Santiago-Santa-Cruz.

General Ulises Heureaux is the current president of the Dominican Republic.

Good luck to the reborn industry of this small Republic!

©Livre d'Or de l'Exposition - S. Favière.