Present-day Dominican Republic was long held by Spain as the colony of Santo Domingo, but it soon came under the control of Haiti after Haiti successfully rebelled against France in 1821.
Native Dominican Juan Pablo Duarte responded by organising a youth patriotic movement called “La Trinitaria,” and heavily financing the effort for independence. Other patriots joined with him in the cause, and independence was finally achieved in 1844.
Though offered the presidency, Duarte declined it in favour of a democratic election. Unfortunately, a dictator was elected and Duarte eventually died in exile due to differences with various rulers and power brokers in the country he helped to free.
The main event for Duarte Day is a ceremony in Duarte’s honour held in Santo Domingo’s Independence Park. The crowds are large and filled with patriotic fervor, and many tourists attend to catch a glimpse of Dominican culture and history.