Santiago de los Caballeros

Santiago de los Caballeros or simply Santiago (English: Saint James of the Knights) is the second-largest city in the Dominican Republic, and the fourth-largest city in the Caribbean. It is the capital of the Santiago Province and the major metropolis in the north-central region of the country. It's urban population reaches 550,753 inhabitants, and if rural areas are included its population rises to 691,262. Santiago is located approximately 155 km (96 mi) northwest of Santo Domingo with an average altitude of 178 meters (584 ft).

Founded in 1495 during the first wave of European settlement in the New World, the city is the "first Santiago of the Americas". Today the city is one of the Dominican Republic's cultural, political, industrial, and financial centers. Due to its location in the fertile Cibao Valley it has a robust agricultural sector and is a leading exporter of rum, textiles, and cigars. Santiago is known as "La Ciudad Corazon" (the "Heartland City").

History

The colony originally was located in the city of Jacagua, which was founded in 1495, but when it was destroyed by an earthquake it was moved to its current location in 1506. In granting in 1508 the Royal Privilege of Concession de Armas to the Villa de Santiago of Hispaniola, the heraldic emblem that was included in his shield was venerated. The royal decree signed by King Ferdinand as administrator of the kingdoms of his daughter Joanna I of Castile.

The city was devastated by another earthquake in 1562. The survivors settled on land belonging to Petronila Jáquez of Minaya, adjacent to the Yaque del Norte, which is the current location of the city's river. The domination of the French during the Peace of Basel (which yielded the Spanish part of the island to France in 1795) left its mark on Santiago. During this era Santiago began its modern urban planning. European neoclassicism is represented at the Palace Hall, built between 1892 and 1895, by a Belgian architect named Louis Bogaert. The Victorian era was the zenith of architecture in the city. Numerous residences were built in this European style, which makes up the historic center of Santiago.

Santiago de los Caballeros has historically been the capital of the country, and was an important strategic city in the Dominican War of Independence. The name of the city, Saint James of the Knights refers to the Hidalgos de la Isabela, a group of knights who had come from La Isabela city to stay in Santiago. When they got back to Spain they put a formal complaint before the king stating that their horses had been unfairly commissioned as beasts of burden and their weapons had been appropriated by the Columbus brothers (Diego and Bartolomew) and that they had been made to do manual labor, something considered beneath their station as knights, who were meant to engage only in battle. Sometimes the city is called Santiago de los 30 Caballeros (English: Saint James of the 30 Knights).

Geography

Santiago de los Caballeros is located on a hilly terrain in the middle of the Cibao Valley in the Central Region of the Dominican Republic, one of the most fertile lands found in the island. The Yaque del Norte River passes by Santiago which is in between the Cordillera Central and the Cordillera Septentrional, two of the three major mountain ranges on the island of Hispaniola, forming the Cibao Valley.

Climate

Santiago features a tropical wet and dry climate under the Köppen climate classification. The average temperature varies little in the city, because the tropical trade winds help mitigate the heat and humidity throughout the year. December and January are the coolest months and July and August are the warmest. Santiago and the rest of the country are in the Caribbean and have a tropical climate, which, when coupled with the city's altitude, 183 meters above sea level, causes cloudy conditions to persist through much of the year. Whilst the city lies within the Hurricane belt, Santiago is more sheltered than other parts of the country from hurricanes because of its location in the Cibao Valley.

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