The “DR” comprises two thirds of the large island of Hispaniola that marks the centre of the West Indies. Its tropical climate and varied altitudes create a myriad of distinct pockets of discovery that sometimes get overshadowed by the magnificent sand beaches of the coastal lowlands. Four mountain ranges run from northwest to southeast, separating arid and lush regions, and supporting various endemic birds and herptiles. The Palmchat of lowland areas throughout Hispaniola is endemic to the island and is the world’s only representative of its taxonomic family. Fertile highland valleys support productive crop fields, and alpine waterfalls punctuate major rivers. Gold within these rivers attracted Spanish colonists soon after Columbus’s landing in 1492. Though the hand of Spanish conquest is the most evident aspect of DR’s history today, subtle and localized cultural reminders of the indigenous Taíno people endure through words, cave art, and traditional customs.