Many people think that the Dominican Republic is actually an island in the Caribbean; however it is in fact only part of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti. Although it is a shared island it is still the second largest Caribbean nation behind Cuba with an estimated ten million residents. It was also the first permanent settlement of the Caribbean by Europeans when the Spanish chose to live there in 1492.
Steeped in history, the Dominican Republic became an independent country in 1821 after three hundred years of Spanish rule. Since this time it has had a turbulent past with slave revolts and Haitian involvement. Now the Dominican Republic is best known for producing sugar, however tourism has become a large and profitable part of its industry and it now has the largest amount of tourist visiting every year.
Photo credit: Michelle Brea
Sports in the Dominican Replublic
Of course with all the history, turbulence, revolt and industry it is no wonder that the Dominican Republic has a rich and varied culture. However it may surprise some of you to discover that one of the most culturally important past times, where Dominicans are concerned, is in fact sports.
Baseball is extremely popular in the Dominican Republic and the country runs an annual 6 team tournament. This league has been running for many years and the Dominican Republic has had many players who have gone on to play for the, more affluent, American MLB (Major League Baseball). Probably the most famous of these is Juan Marichal who became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. After baseball Dominicans mostly prefer boxing, where they have had many world champion fighters and basketball with many past and present players choosing to play in the NBA (National Basketball Association).
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Music of the Dominican Republic
After sport it is music that the Dominican people enjoy and this has had a huge influence on the country’s culture and merengue music, which started in the Dominican Republic, is now popular all over the world. Indeed in certain Latin American countries merengue has over taken their own tradition musical styles in popularity. The style of meringue music is typified by the suggestive lyrics and erotic dancing movement and it is thought that it was first played in a Dominican brothel. Since its early incarnation merengue has become a fast and lively dance music with plenty of drums and brass.
Photo credit: Martin Wippel
The Food of the Dominican Republic
When it comes to food Dominican cuisine relies heavily on its past with Spanish, African and Taino influences. Although many of the meals are similar to those of other Latin American countries the names are slightly different. As in Spain, lunch is considered the main daily meal and for this reason is usually the largest. Typically lunch will have meat, rice, beans and salad as its main ingredients although Sancocho, a stew of seven different meats, is also a popular dish. For desert try bizcocho dominicano which is a Dominican cake. Of course, the main drink in the Dominican Republic is Rum, but beer, smoothies and fruit juices are all very popular.
Photo credit: Remo del Orbe