The Commonwealth of Dominica is a nation situated in the West Indies that spans an area of roughly 290 square miles. According to 2016 estimates, Dominica was home to approximately 74,000 people, which at the time was the 195th highest population globally. Due to the relatively small population, the culture of the nation is roughly homogeneous. The culture of Dominica has been significantly impacted by the long history of human habitation within its borders. Before the European communities arrived in the region, it was mainly inhabited by the Arawak and the Carib societies. The culture of the present day Dominican nation has several traces of the culture of the two communities.
Religions Practiced in Dominica
The constitution of Dominica ensures that the right of each citizen to practice the religion of their choice is protected. Statistics indicate that the most dominant religion in Dominica is Christianity. The most common Christian denominations in the nation include Roman Catholicism and evangelical branches of Christianity. Data from a census carried out in 2001 indicated that close to 61% of the Dominican people were members of the Roman Catholic faith. The significant presence of Roman Catholics in Dominica can be traced back to the arrival of the Europeans. One of the most prominent missionaries in Dominica was Raymond Breton who belonged to the order of St. Dominic. He worked among the people of Dominica for close to 10 years starting in 1641 and ending in 1651. He was successful in converting a large number of Dominicans to Roman Catholicism since he learned their native languages. The Roman Catholic Church in Dominica carries out some social activities in the country to improve the lives of the citizens. Apart from the Roman Catholic Church, other major Christian sects in Dominica include the Evangelical sects whose members are approximately 18% of the population and the Seventh-day Adventist church whose members accounts for approximately 6% of the nation's population. There are also minor religions within Dominica such as the Rastafarian religion and Islam.
Festivals in Dominica
Festivals are an essential part of Dominican culture. Due to the prevalence of Christianity in the nation, Christian religious celebrations such as Easter and Christmas are some of the most commonly celebrated holidays. Apart from religious festivals, there are also several festivals that mark significant and important events in the history of the nation. One of Dominica's most important events is celebrated on November 3rd to commemorate the date when Dominica gained its independence. Another major festival in Dominica is the Emancipation Festival which is celebrated to mark the date when black slaves attained their freedom. There are also several music festivals in Dominica with the two most important ones being the Jazz n' Creole Festival, which is held in May, and the World Creole Music Festival, which is held annually in October.
Cuisine from Dominica
The culinary tradition of Dominica draws on some international traditions with the most dominant one being the Creole tradition. Dominican meals are similar to meals from other Caribbean nations particularly St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago. Spices are commonly used in Dominican meals to add a unique flavor to the food. Breakfast is probably the most important meal in the Dominican culture and the most commonly eaten foods at this time include bakes and salt fish. Lunch is also essential to the Dominican people, and typically they eat a mixture of vegetables and meat. Common vegetables in Dominican meals include plantains and yams. The Dominican people have a fondness for meat with the most popular type of meat being chicken. Roadside stalls are extremely popular in Dominica, and they serve some meals such as fish and chips, and fried chicken. The giant ditch frog, a critically endangered frog species endemic to Dominica, is the country's national food. It is often referred to as the Mountain Chicken.
Dominican Music and Dance
Music is a vital part of the Dominican culture, and the nation has a vibrant music scene. The Dominican people enjoy a variety of musical genres including several that are famous around the world. Some of the popular music categories in Dominica include reggae, rock and roll, and calypso. Apart from international music, the Dominican people also enjoy native music with the most popular genre being Bouyon. Derek Peters and Cornell Phillips are often considered the father of Bouyon music. Dance is also quite popular in Dominica with some of the most popular types of dance being traditional dances such as Bele and Schottische. Some of the dances popular among the Dominican are of European origins such as Quadrille and Lancers. The Dominican dances are often showcased at traditional festivals and when dignitaries visit the nation.
Because writing was introduced to Dominica after the arrival of the Europeans, the nation does not have a long literary tradition, unlike several other nations. However, in the absence of written literature, the Dominican people developed an impressive tradition of oral literature. After writing was introduced to the Dominican people, a literary tradition emerged, and several Dominican authors gained international acclaim. Jean Rhys was one of the most famous writers from Dominica. Her most famous work was Wide Sargasso Sea which was written in 1966. The book was written as a prequel to one of the most popular novels of the 19th century, Jane Eyre. In recognition of her contribution to Dominica's literary tradition, Jean Rhys was the recipient of the Order of the British Empire. Other famous writers from Dominica include Phyllis Shand Allfrey, Edward Scobie, and Elma Napier.
Social Beliefs and Etiquette
Etiquette is one of the most critical parts of Dominican culture. Politeness is expected of all residents regardless of their age. Greetings are an essential part of the social relationship in Dominica. The Dominican people place a lot of value in honesty and tend to be direct in most of their conversations.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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