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Santo Domingo is the cultural, financial, political, commercial and industrial center of the Dominican Republic, with the country’s most important industries being located within the city.
Santo Domingo also serves as the chief seaport of the country.
Bartholomew Columbus founded the settlement and named it La Nueva Isabela, after an earlier settlement in the north named after the Queen of Spain Isabella I.
Expeditions which led to Ponce de León's colonization of Puerto Rico, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar's colonization of Cuba, Hernando Cortes' conquest of Mexico, and Vasco Núñez de Balboa's sighting of the Pacific Ocean were all launched from Santo Domingo.
The original layout of the city and a large portion of its defensive wall can still be appreciated today throughout the Colonial Zone, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
In 1586, Francis Drake captured the city and held it for ransom.
Santo Domingo's position on its banks was of great importance to the city's economic development and the growth of trade during colonial times.Drake's invasion signaled the decline of Spanish dominion over Hispaniola, which was accentuated in the early 17th century by policies that resulted in the depopulation of most of the island outside of the capital.An expedition sent by Oliver Cromwell in 1655 attacked the city of Santo Domingo, but was defeated.The nation was unified with Haiti just two months later.
The city and the colony lost much of their Spanish-born peninsular population as a result of these events which caused a great deal of instability and unrest.
Founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1496, on the east bank of the Ozama River and then moved by Nicolás de Ovando in 1502 to the west bank of the river, the city is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Americas, and was the first seat of the Spanish colonial rule in the New World.