SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, Oct. 24, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) —

Already known for its silky smooth beaches, breathtaking mountains, and adrenaline-pumping water sports, luxurious accommodations, and more, Dominican Republic is gaining the attention of visitors for its uniquely-Dominican products and iridescent gemstones. The history and culture engrained in the Dominican way of life have made it the majestic destination that it is today and in turn have provided the world with those qualities’ physical forms — the country’s emblematic products — which have since become a highlight for visitors.

“Dominican Republic’s culture has been influenced by a fascinating history — from Christopher Columbus’ 1492 voyage, to the Spanish, Taino, and African influences that are still a big part of our present-day island, and our products that symbolize it all,” said Magaly Toribio, Marketing Advisor for the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism. “Dominican Republic’s agricultural and cultural products are a source of pride for Dominicans, and symbolic of the country’s history and way of life. We encourage visitors to indulge in Dominican treats to get a deeper feel for our captivating culture.”

The country is home to ample offerings that are unique and not available anywhere else. Below are a few that will give you a taste of Dominican Republic and leave you wanting more:

Savory Treats

Cocoa: Dominican Republic’s tropical environment, perfectly shaded areas and nurturing farmers help to produce high-quality cocoa — a major Dominican export since 1864. Dominican Republic’s cocoa beans are flawlessly grown, refined and processed to serve as world-class chocolate manufacturers’ finest product. The rich cocoa has sweeping effects, as it is longed for by chocolate lovers across the globe, and whether it is drunk, eaten or used to bake, you will taste just how sweet Dominican life is.

Coffee: The chocolate is sweet, and that is the same way Dominicans like their coffee–the country’s national non-alcoholic drink. It is rich and robust with moderate sharpness and uncomplicated flavors, which comes from the mountainous regions’ rich soil that harbors the coffee trees. Throughout the country, street vendors sell it with pre-added sugar in thimble-sized cups — perfect for a morning wakeup, afternoon jolt or evening indulgence.

Sugarcane: Dominican meals rarely end after the main course, as it is proper for dessert to follow, and after all, the country’s principal agricultural product is sugarcane. Cakes, puddings, caramel-dipped fruits and creams are typical and extraordinarily sweet. There is more to Dominican sugarcane than its inclusion in desserts, though, as it is also the country’s primary export and key ingredient in its world-renowned rum.

Guilty Pleasures

Cigars: Since the Spanish arrived in 1492, tobacco has been an integral part of Dominican culture, which has led to its current status as a cigar lover’s paradise. More than 350 million cigars are exported each year and more than half of the cigars consumed in the U.S. are produced in Dominican Republic. Each hand-rolled cigar embodies dedication and pride — the two key aspects that make each one special and symbolic of the island nation’s persona.

Rum: Dominican rum is undoubtedly the world’s best — known for its unique flavor and silky smoothness that was first created and perfected in 1852. Dominican grown sugarcane is the rum’s key component, giving it the taste relished around the world. There are several different types, each defined by how long they are aged. It is not uncommon for Dominicans to invite you to have some of their “Vitamin B,” as they call it, which references the three best known brands of rum – Bermúdez, Brugal and Barceló.

Unique Treasures

Amber: Dominican Republic amber, a hardened tree resin, is a striking gemstone and one of the most popular souvenirs for tourists. It is 90 percent more transparent than amber found elsewhere, and is known for its diversity and abundance of inclusions — such as lizards, insects and leaves — trapped inside the stone. It is mined in mountains north of Santiago and northeast of Santo Domingo, and is found in several colors, including light yellow to a deep red, the very rare opaque green and even a blue.

Larimar: Larimar, Dominican Republic’s native stone and trademark, is a pectolite not found elsewhere. Volcano activity millions of years ago gave the blue stones touches of green and white, with brown, gray, or red shadows woven in their surface. Needless to say, Larimar makes for exquisite jewelry and keepsakes.

About Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic’s first tourist was Christopher Columbus in 1492. Rich in history, Dominican Republic has developed into a diverse destination offering both Dominican and European flavors to more than one million U.S. visitors each year. Named #1 Golf Destination in Caribbean & Latin America by the International Association of Golf Tour Operators, Dominican Republic boasts 28 designer golf courses, upscale resorts, pristine nature, and sophisticated cities and quaint villages filled with warm Dominican people. Dominican Republic features the best beaches, fascinating history and culture, and is a chosen escape for celebrities, couples and families alike.

Visit Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism’s official website at: