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El Cibao
The main Cibao region in dark blue.
The main Cibao region in dark blue.
Country Dominican Republic
 • Total 19,058.62 km2 (7,358.57 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 3,246,032
 • Density 170.32/km2 (441.1/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Cibaenian; Cibaine (Spanish: cibaeño)

The Cibao, usually referred as "El Cibao", is a region of the Dominican Republic located at the northern part of the country. As of 2009 the Cibao has a population of 5,622,378 making it the most populous region in the country.[1]


The word Cibao, from Taíno Ciba-o, meaning "rocky land"; from ciba, meaning "rock" or "stone", and o, meaning "land" or "place", means "place where rocks abound". Cibao was a native name for the island, although the Spanish used it during the Spanish conquest to refer to the rich and fertile valley between the Central and Septentrional mountain ranges.

Geography and Economy[edit]

Aerial view of Constanza, a town located in the Cibao region.

Cibao occupies the central and northern part of the Dominican territory. To the north and east of the region lies the Atlantic Ocean; to its west lies the Republic of Haiti and to the south the Central Range, which separates Cibao from the other natural regions.

The Cordillera Central mountain range is located within Cibao, containing the highest peak in all of the Caribbean, Pico Duarte. Two of the largest rivers of the country are also located inside this region: the Yaque del Norte, the largest river of the Dominican Republic, and the Yuna river. Both of these rivers contain several chains of dams used to provide the region with water for irrigation (since agriculture is the main activity of the area) and hydroelectric energy. Rice, coffee and cacao are the most important crops grown in the area.

The central mountain range also has important mining activity. Its main mineral resources include gold, iron and nickel, among others. The largest gold mine in the Americas and second largest in the world, the Pueblo Viejo mine, is located in the Cibao region.[2][3] The internationally known Barrick Gold and Falconbridge are the companies in charge of the extraction of these ores.


Cibaeños in the town of Moca, Espaillat.

The valley is not only a geographical unit, but also a cultural and linguistic unit. The Cibao region is considered to be the cultural heartland of the Dominican Republic. The local dialect of Spanish spoken in the area, has a number of innovative syntactic, semantic, and phonological features [4][2], none of which appear to be the product of language contact with either English or French.

Merengue music, played using the güira, tambora and accordion, was originated in Cibao. The folk type of merengue is played by the perico ripiao, which is played by typical local musical groups, as a variation of the merengue, with a faster pace.

Horse riding culture in Cibao.

During Late January and through February, several carnivals are held within the region. The most popular of these festivals belongs to the province of La Vega, and dates back to the first European settlements. It began as a religious activity celebrating the pre-Lent season, and the carnival's theme revolves around the victory of good over evil.

Many important Dominican patriots were of Cibaeño origin. Among the most important are local generals José Desiderio Valverde and José Antonio Salcedo, who were responsible for the restoration of the Republic in the later decades of the 1800s. During the Trujillo dictatorship, the Mirabal sisters arranged clandestine organizations to rebel against the fascist dictatorship. The sisters were brutally murdered in 1960, and remain today as some of the biggest martyrs on behalf of the Dominican nation.

The bulk of the population is mainly concentrated in the center of the region. The city of Santiago de los Caballeros constitutes the regional center and main focus of development of the area.


Province Capital Area (km²)[5] Population[5] Density[5] Map region
Dajabón Dajabón 1,020.73 62,046 61 4
Duarte San Francisco de Macorís 1,605.35 283,805 177 5
Espaillat Moca 838.62 225,091 268 8
Hermanas Mirabal Salcedo 440.43 96,356 219 21
La Vega Concepción de la Vega 2,287.24 385,101 168 13
María Trinidad Sánchez Nagua 1,271.71 135,727 119 14
Monseñor Nouel Bonao 992.39 167,618 169 15
Monte Cristi San Fernando de Monte Cristi 1,924.35 111,014 58 16
Puerto Plata San Felipe de Puerto Plata 1,852.90 312,706 168 20
Samaná Santa Bárbara de Samaná 853.74 91,875 108 22
Sánchez Ramírez Cotuí 1,196.13 151,179 126 23
Santiago Santiago de los Caballeros 2,836.51 908,250 320 28
Santiago Rodríguez San Ignacio de Sabaneta 1,111.14 59,629 54 29
Valverde Santa Cruz de Mao 823.38 158,293 192 31
Total 19,058.62 3,148,690 165 -
Map of the provinces of the Dominican Republic


  1. ^ Santo Domingo: A Country with a Future. 
  2. ^ "The World's 10 Largest Gold Mines by Production". 
  3. ^ "World Top 20 Gold: Countries, Companies and Mines". 
  4. ^ Bullock, B. & J. Toribio. 2009. Reconsidering Dominican Spanish: Data from the rural Cibao. RILI 7, 2: 49-73.
  5. ^ a b c Oficina Nacional de Estadística. "República Dominicana en Cifras 2006" (in Spanish). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 9, 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 

Coordinates: 19°37′37″N 70°16′39″W / 19.6269°N 70.2774°W / 19.6269; -70.2774