If you go to an atlas and look under the place name “Santiago”, you will not be short of results. Not only is it the name of the capital of Chile, the word “Santiago” is also present in a huge number of place names throughout the Spanish speaking world, as well as in Portugal and Brazil. Deriving of course from the name of the saint James, the place name Santiago is therefore unsurprisingly popular, and not unlike the many towns and cities in the English speaking world which are themselves named after saints. The place name Santiago for the purposes of the Dominican Republic refers to the province of Santiago and its capital city Santiago de los Treinta Caballeros or Santiago of the Thirty Horsemen.
Santiago as a province is an industrial, urbanised area which is also home to a vast intellectual population on account of its educational establishments. Among the industries which thrive there are the textile industry – with specific reference to the leather goods and particularly shoes which are made there. It is also home to some of the country’s recreational goods industries, with tobacco factories churning out both cigars and cigarettes, and additionally a major part of the rum production sector which is highly prevalent in the Caribbean. This industrial success and municipal importance go some way towards making the Cibao Valley area in which Santiago is located the richest region per capita in the entire Dominican Republic – although the presence in the area of a significant amount of “old money” does play a part as well.
Another thing from which Santiago benefits is its location among the mountains. This positioning prevents the area from being too badly affected when the Republic is struck by hurricanes. This is naturally beneficial when it comes to commerce and living conditions, as there is less necessity to fix things up constantly and deal with the immediate fallout from the damage done. With this convergence of geographical favor and financial security Santiago is and will continue to be one of the jewels in the crown of the Dominican Republic.
Santiago (the province) is made up of nine districts with a total population of over one and a quarter million people. Of these people, almost eighty per cent (993,629) live in the capital region of Santiago de los Treinta Caballeros, with the vast majority of those people living in the urbanised area of the city – a population of just shy of three quarters of a million. This makes Santiago one of the most populous areas of the Dominican Republic, but then this is no great surprise as people tend to go to where the jobs are. A large number of Dominican presidents and prominent politicians have come from Santiago, many writers and poets, painters and designers and even one Miss Universe. Santiago – truly a place of contrasts.