With mountain ranges running parallel to each other, the Dominican Republic boasts a number of highland valleys. Variously described as the 'bread basket' or 'food basket' of the Dominican Republic and a 'paradise' by Christopher Columbus, the Cibao Valley is the most fertile area in the country. Almost everything is grown either here or in the Vega Real (Royal Meadow), another fertile valley at the eastern end of the Cibao. Rather less productive is the semi-arid San Juan Valley south of the Cordillera Central and extending westward into Haiti. Still more barren is the Neiba Valley, tucked between the Sierra de Neiba and the Sierra de Bahoruco. This valley is also known as the Cul-de-Sac, although geologists often refer to this area as the Enriquillo Basin. Much of the land in the Enriquillo Basin is below sea level, resulting in a hot, arid, desert-like environment.
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