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Bánica, Elías Piña

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San Francisco de Bánica
Country Dominican Republic
ProvinceElías Piña
Municipal Districts2
Municipality since1844
 • Total265.98 km2 (102.70 sq mi)
Elevation287 m (942 ft)
 • Total6,533
 • Urban
 Including population of Sabana Cruz and Sabana Higüero.
Time zoneUTC-4 (AST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-4 (AST)
Distance50 km (31 mi) to Comendador

The Dominican city of San Francisco de Bánica, or simply Bánica, is a municipality of the Elías Piña province, on the border with Haiti and near the River Artibonite. The name Bánica comes from the Taíno name of the region, Banique ("land of ebony trees").[4]


The municipality had, in 2010, a total population of 6,533: 3,447 men and 3,086 women. The urban population was 41.22% of the total population. In this numbers are included the population of the municipal districts Sabana Cruz and Sabana Higüero. The population of Bánica without those municipal districts was 2,112.[3]


The town was founded in 1504 by Diego Velázquez, who later went to conquest the island of Cuba, on the left side of the River Artibonite. It was an important town in those years but later it lost its importance. In the 18th century, the Spanish government moved the city to its present place, away from the river, and brought families from the Canary Islands to live there.

When the Haitian independence, most of the people moved to other places. When the Haitians occupied the eastern part of the island (the present Dominican Republic), they founded again the town as part of the Artibonite department.[5]

After the Dominican Independence in 1844, the town was made a municipality of the Azua province.[5] But again the town was abandoned by its inhabitants. After the "Restoration War" (1863 - 1865), some families from other towns near the Haitian border came to live in Bánica.

Bánica was made a municipality of the San Juan province in 1938 and then, in 1942, of the new province of Elías Piña.[5]


Bánica is at 266 km to the west of Santo Domingo and 50 km to the northeast of Comendador. The average temperature in the city is 25.4°C.[2]

The limits of the municipality are the municipality of Pedro Santana to the north, the San Juan province to the east, the municipality of Comendador to the south and Haiti to the west.

Bánica has two municipal districts;[6] these are: Sabana Cruz and Sabana Higüero.


The main economic activity of the municipality is agriculture. Commerce with Haiti is also an important economic activity in the city.

Places of interest

  1. Iglesia de San Francisco de Asís (Saint Francis of Assisi Church). It is a very interesting colonial Catholic church. It is not known when it was built but in 1740 the Bishop Domingo Pantaleón Álvarez Abréu wrote that in Bánica "there is a new church".
  2. Reloj de sol (Sundial). In one of his faces there is date, "1795", that could be the date when it was built. There were only two sundials in the old Spanish colony: one in Santo Domingo and another in Bánica.
  3. Cerro de San Francisco (Saint Francis Hill). It is a rocky hill at 1.5 km from the city. Here there is a cave visited by many people to pray to Saint Francis; they get wet with water that falls from the top of the cave and they put limestone dust in their faces so when they get back to town they are identified by their white faces. The hill is protected by law because here there is the only wild population of Pereskia marcanoi, a cactus with leaves and beautiful small purple flowers; its common name is Rosa de Bánica ("Bánica Rose").


  1. Superficies a nivel de municipios, Oficina Nacional de Estadistica
  2. 2.0 2.1 De la Fuente, Santiago (1976) (in Spanish). Geografía Dominicana. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Editora Colegial Quisqueyana. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Oficina Nacional de Estadística. "IX Censo Nacional de Población y Vivienda. Informe Básico" (in Spanish) (PDF). Retrieved 2013-1-29. 
  4. Vega, Bernardo (1989) (in Spanish). Los Cacicazgos de la Hispaniola. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: Museo del Hombre Dominicano. pp. 78. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Tolentino Rojas, Vicente (1944) (in Spanish). Historia de la División Territorial Dominicana, 1494-1943. Ciudad Trujillo, República Dominicana: Colección Trujillo. 
  6. Oficina Nacional de Estadística. "División Territorial 2008" (in Spanish) (PDF). Retrieved 2009-10-01.