Santiago, Located in the Cibao Valley, Santiago is the country's second largest city and is the central region's metropolis. With almost one million inhabitants, Santiago is a very active and productive city with vibrant restaurants, culture, shops and nightlife.
The city's origins date back to 1495, when Admiral Christopher Columbus built a fort on the banks of the Yaque del Norte River. The city was named "Santiago de los Treinta Caballeros" (caballeros means gentlemen) for the 30 Spanish aristocrats who founded it and formed the original community.
Santiago is often called the "heart city," because it's located in the center of the large island of Hispaniola. This fertile area is the cradle of Dominican tobacco, coffee, cocoa and also rum, a distinction it shares with Puerto Plata. Don't miss walking down its main street, Calle El Sol, which is filled with businesses, hotels, restaurants, bars and a wide variety of stores. Parque Duarte [Duarte Park], located at the north end of the street, is very popular among the locals and a great example of Santiago's relaxed lifestyle.
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