The Dominican Republic is located on the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean region. It has a diverse culture reflecting the influences of cultures from around the world, especially native Taíno, African, and Spanish cultures.
6. Ethnicity, Language, and Religion in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has a population of 10,298,756 individuals. Over 70% of the population comprises of mestizo or mulatto peoples who are individuals of mixed descent. Those of black and white racial backgrounds account for 15.8% and 13.5% of the population respectively. Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic. 95% of the population adhere to Roman Catholic Christianity.
5. Cuisine of the Dominican Republic
The cuisine of the Dominican Republic is influenced by indigenous Taíno cuisine as well as Spanish and various African cuisines. Many of the dishes of this cuisine are similar to those prepared in other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean, although names might differ. Meats are generally preferred over vegetables and carbohydrates. A traditional breakfast usually consists of mangú, fried eggs, salami, fried cheese, sauteed onions, and avocado. Lunch is the main meal of the day and consists of rice served with meat and red beans. A variety of meats like chicken, pork, fish, or beef are consumed. A salad might also be served. Sofrito, a mix of local herbs, is often used to add flavor to the dishes. Rum, beer, and Mama Juana (prepared by allowing honey, red wine, and rum to soak in a bottle with herbs and tree bark) are the most widely consumed alcoholic beverages. Morir soñando is a traditional non-alcoholic beverage that is made of milk, cane sugar, orange juice, and chopped ice. Coffee, mauby (tree bark based beverage), freshly squeezed fruit juices, etc., are also popular.
4. Literature and the Arts in the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic has a rich heritage of oral literature in the form of folktales and legends, fairy tales, heroic epics, etc. With the spread of formal education during Spanish colonial rule, written literary works were produced and many of the Dominican writers soon earned global fame. For several decades, the Dominican literature reflected Spanish and other European influences. Today, the country’s writers like Julia Alvarez are creating a unique Dominican style by leaving behind the Spanish influences.
The art scene of Dominica has been influenced by the dominant art movements in Europe for several centuries. Dominica also has its own collection of folk art that is often associated with bright colors and feature natural scenery and village scenes. The folk craft industry of the country is also well-developed. Glazed and unglazed terracotta pottery and terra-cotta figures are famous. Masks are made by carving gourds or calabash. Hammocks and bags are woven by village women. Basket making, handcrafted seashell jewelry production, and palm weaving are some of the other popular crafts from the Dominican Republic.
3. Performance Arts in the Dominican Republic
Merengue, a world-famous musical style, is the biggest contribution of the Dominican Republic to the global music scene. It is a lively and fast-paced dance music played using drums, accordion, chorded instruments, güira, etc. Bachata, another style of music that developed in the country, has also become recently popular. Sacred music called Palo is played throughout the island during religious ceremonies, secular parties, and other species occasions. This musical style has its roots in the Congo region of Africa. Salsa music and Dominican rock are also popular.
A number of festivals including the annual Carnival celebrations are held in the Dominica Republic. Parades, music, street dancing, beauty pageants, etc., are all part of the Carnival. An annual cultural festival is also held in Puerto Plata when dance and music performances, large concerts, art and craft shows, and food counters offering international cuisines keep the crowds busy.
2. Sports in the Dominican Republic
Baseball is this country’s most popular sport. It has the highest number of Major League Baseball players after the US and six baseball league teams. The Dominican Republic has also produced some world-class fighters in the field of boxing including many world champions. Basketball games are also widely viewed by the people of this country. Other important sports played in the Dominican Republic are volleyball, taekwondo, and judo.
1. Life in the Dominican Society
Although the law provides equal rights to men and women in Dominican society, in practice, this equality is yet to be achieved. In families of the upper and middle classes, men usually dominate the households. In the lower classes, however, the families are mostly led by women as adult men or the father usually do not live in the house. Women in the Dominican Republic are today constantly fighting for their rights including access to education and employment and some success has been achieved in this regard. Although more men than women are educated and employed, the number of women in the workforce is steadily rising.
Marital unions in the Dominican Republic are of three different types, church marriages, civil marriages, and consensual unions. While the first two types are more common among the elites and middle classes, consensual unions are prevalent among the poorer sections of society. Household units of the higher classes are usually well-structured and often of the extended type. In the lower classes, households are loosely structured and often dominated by the oldest woman in the household. She lives with her children including married daughters while her husband is usually not present in the house. Men in the lower classes often have relationships with more than one woman and hence, are not attached to any single family.
Education is highly valued in the Dominica Republic. It is free and compulsory to sixth grade. The country has an adult literacy rate of 83% that is considered quite high as compared to neighboring nations.
Politeness and greetings are considered important etiquettes during social interactions. The Dominicans also give great importance to personal appearance and like to dress up well and appropriately for every occasion. Personal space is limited, touching and standing close during conversations is normal. Public transport vehicles tend to be very crowded. Dominicans often communicate using gestures or body language.
About the Author
Oishimaya is an Indian native, currently residing in Kolkata. She has earned her Ph.D. degree and is presently engaged in full-time freelance writing and editing. She is an avid reader and travel enthusiast and is sensitively aware of her surroundings, both locally and globally. She loves mingling with people of eclectic cultures and also participates in activities concerning wildlife conservation.
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