La Altagracia Province is found on the eastern part of the Dominican Republic. This province is just one of thirty-one provinces that are found in the country. It is the second largest one only surpassed by San Juan. La Altagracia is more than just a big province. La Altagracia has a rich history and harbors some of the most important touristic destinations in the country. Punta Cana and Bayahibe, for example, are well known for their beautiful beaches and stunning scuba diving spots. Both of these exciting areas are located in the southeast part of the province.
Origin of the name
The name of the province originates from a portrait called Our lady of La Altagracia or “Nuestra Senora de La Altagracia” that was brought to the Dominican Republic by the Spaniards colonists somewhere around the 1500’s. It is said that the Blessed Virgin Mary designated a place in what is known to be today the city of Higuey where the painting was going to remain. The specific area in Higuey where the picture is located is known as the Basilica of Our Lady of La Altagracia. This church opened its doors in 1971 and every January 21, visitors from different parts of the country make a pilgrimage to it.
Brief History of La Altagracia Province
Higuey was founded by Juan de Esquivel around the year 1503. The area used to belong to the Tainos but the Spaniards launched an attack and took over the whole region. For several centuries Higuey was a Parish of El Seibo until in 1801 everything changed. Toussaint Louverture took over the territory belonging to Spain at the Hispaniola in the name of Haiti and Higuey was turned into a district. The district was part of the department of Ozama.
Several years later, Spain retook control of the eastern part of the Hispaniola and once more Higuey became a Parish of El Seibo. In 1822 when the Haitians occupied the Spanish part of the Hispaniola the area of Higuey was again belonging to the department of Ozama. After the Dominican Republic obtained its independence in 1844 the area became part of El Seibo province. The official time when La Altagracia Province was created was in 1961 when the old province of La Altagracia was divided into La Romana and the New La Altagracia.
Facts about the province
The province has a fairly large area comprising 3010 km² and a population of approximately of 335,667 people. The north and the east part of the province borders with the rough Atlantic Ocean, the south with the warm Caribbean Sea and the west with the Provinces of La Romana and El Seibo.
La Altagracia is composed of two main municipalities: Higuey and San Rafael de Yuma. These municipalities are further divided into several municipal districts.
The municipality of Higuey has Lagunas de Nisibon, La Otra Banda and Veron-Punta Cana as its municipal districts. San Rafael de Yuma has Boca de Yuma and Bayahibe as its municipal districts.
There are many interesting places to visit at La Altagracia. In Punta Cana you can find a huge number of resorts where you can stay and have a great time. In Bayahibe you can visit the National Park of the East which is home to several exotic animal and plant species. You can also take a boat to Isla Saona and Isla Catalina which are nearby. Both of these tiny islands are beautiful natural reserves and are often visited by tourists.