The city is located on the Caribbean Sea, at the mouth of the Ozama River. Founded in 1496, it is arguably the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the Western Hemisphere. It was the first seat of Spanish colonial rule in the New World. The city was sacked by Sir Francis Drake in 1586, and was almost completely destroyed by a hurricane in 1930. It was rebuilt and renamed Ciudad Trujillo, after dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, but the original name was restored in 1961 after his assassination.
The city's cathedral, begun in 1514, is the oldest in the Western Hemisphere. Until 1990 it held the tomb of Christopher Columbus, whose remains were moved to the Columbus Memorial Lighthouse. The Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) is the oldest university in the new world.