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Culture & Identity of Dominica

Introduction

The way of life in Dominica is heavily based on farming and the lands for many of the people. However, the current economy is struggling so many people today are unemployed, while others have jobs in numerous other fields.

The work life seems to dictate much of the lifestyle in Dominica simply because it gives the people a routine and schedule. For nearly half the people this means working in the agricultural sector, many of whom are farmers. For these people life is based on the weather and seasons, but is also heavily dependent on family and community. People live a bit further away from each other in these rural settings, making family and the social contacts one has more important.

The other jobs in the country include everything from industry to services jobs. These positions are quite diverse and often times they also have differing schedules. However, these positions tend to again give the people a routine. Many of these jobs are located in the larger towns on the island as these towns also contribute to the lifestyle in the country in the form of entertainment, transportation, education, and more.

No matter a person's occupation, life in the country seems more reliant on family and friends. People are the center of life on the island and due to this the people seem relaxed as time slows down and there is seemingly always time for a conversation. In fact meals can go on for hours as more talking is done than eating. Although work dictates schedule and money, it is the social aspect of the country that truly determines the lifestyle of the people.

Identity

The people of Dominica generally identify as "Dominican," (with the stress being on the second "i," not to be confused with the term of the same name by which the people of the Dominican Republic identify). What it means to be Dominican is debatable as differing groups define it in different ways. For the upper class and many young city dwellers the term is associated with the island's history, art, and its past, focusing on both foreign influences as well as local Carib influences. Others view this definition as being somewhat exclusive since many Dominicans don't strongly associate with this past or, more specifically, with certain aspects of it. For many, British roots are more important than French, while for others it is reversed causing a rift in the definition of the identity based on ethnic roots and customs. Additionally, the island is divided economically and many people from both sides of this gap have difficulties relating to the other side, creating a rift in definition of being "Dominican" by social and economic status. Generally, the island's poorer population tends to define "Dominican" in terms of daily culture and food above all else; many of the wealthier citizens define it more in terms of history, art, and modern urban culture.

This page was last updated: December, 2013