Culture of the Dominican Republic Essay

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Culture of the Dominican Republic

The People

Dominicans’ ethnicity consists of Taino, Spanish and African. The native people on the island were the Taino. The Taino were hunter and gatherers who lived off the land. Led by Christopher Columbus, the Spanish conquered the island in 1492. The Spanish overtook the Taino forcing them to be their slaves while killing many in the process. The Africans were then later brought to the island as slaves. Certain traits of these ethnic groups are still present in the Dominican culture, such as the food, language, religion and personality of the people (Goodwin, 116).

A true Taino is hard to come by in the Dominican Republic, yet most Dominicans consider themselves part Taino. During
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Therefore, the ethnic makeup of the Dominican Republic is 73% mixed, 16% white and only 11% black (Goodwin, 116; Foner, 44-46).

Haitian Relations

Throughout the Dominican history, the country has always had problems with Haiti. The turbulent history of Hispaniola and the constant change of control on the island are two of the main reasons for this bad relationship between the countries. From 1822 to 1844 Haiti had complete control of the entire island. Trujillo used this twenty year period as a point of reference to blame Dominican problems on the Haitians. He often said that before the Haitian control of the Dominican Republic, the Dominicans were blond hair and blue eyed. Although Trujillo is no longer in office the feeling of “black as bad” is still present in the Dominican culture. This feeling is emphasized anytime Haiti is having problems. When Haiti is going through political and economical issues, the Dominican economy suffers. Tourism is one of the main sources of income and this often depletes during times of turmoil in Haiti. These problems only increase the racism of Haitians and black people in the Dominican Republic (Foner, 43) (Goodwin, 117).

Music

The Dominican culture has a strong emphasis on music. The national rhythm of the Dominican Republic is called the merengue. This type of music is often related to the Spanish heritage but other theories say the merengue was African. The drum beat of

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