Culture of the Dominican Republic

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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 the conquest the Spanish killed massive amounts of this indigenous group and their population almost vanished. However, Taino culture is still seen in some of the foods that are eaten in the Dominican Republic. Dominicans also use some of the Taino’s words in their language, such as tobacco, hammock and canoe (Lonely Planet website). One of the most significant aspects of Taino culture that is still present today is the importance of land. The Taino lived off the land and respected Mother Nature. This is still seen in Dominican agriculture which grows a rich produce of bananas, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco and cacao. Importing these products is one of their major sources of income (Goodwin, 116).

The Dominicans have intermarried with Tainos, Spanish and African people but their African physical features are still present. Dominicans come in all different colors, ranging from very dark to very light and everything in between. Dominicans see skin color differently than it is seen in the ...

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...Lonely Planet; Goodwin, 116-117).

Throughout the history of the Dominican Republic certain heritage groups have played an important role in creating the Dominican culture. The Taino gave the Dominicans their love of Mother Nature, the African slaves gave them their physical appearance and the Spanish conquistadors shaped the Dominican’s language and religion. Although some influences are more dominant than others, overall the Dominican culture is a mix of three heritage groups that create a unique and intriguing culture.


Foner, Nancy. From Ellis Island to JFK. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Goodwin, Paul Jr. “The Dominican Republic.” Latin America Tenth Edition. Guilford, CN: McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, 2003.

Lonely Planet

Accessed 22 March 2004
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