With the loss of the local population, the Spanish had no laborers other than themselves
so they turned to slavery for cheap labor. As much of the trade was focused on agriculture,
a lot of manual labor was required in the region so people from Africa were brought
in to become slaves in the fields, mines, and elsewhere. Despite the heavy Spanish
cultural influences, the Spanish population was small in comparison to the growing
African population as the culture dramatically changed.
This alteration in culture and way of life in the Dominican Republic continued as
the sugarcane industry exploded and Spain lost power on the seas. Also throughout
history many slaves fled into the mountains as the coastal settlements struggled
with the rise of piracy. As the coastal culture remained primarily Spanish, in the
mountains there was a growing African population and an emerging culture based on
both the surviving natives as well as the slaves.
Even today all of these past cultural influences can be seen to some degree. The
Spanish left perhaps the most noticeable mark as today most people speak Spanish,
are Catholic, and tend to live a more European-influenced lifestyle. However, the
lifestyle is still based on the lands and farms, while the African and indigenous
populations have made a lasting mark on the music, food, and lifestyle in numerous
other ways. In addition to these influences dictating the culture, the lifestyle
and location, particularly comparing the coasts to mountains, have a lasting impact
as the country is home to numerous sub-cultures.
Today these cultures and sub-cultures remain unique; people on the coasts are reliant
on fishing and increasingly on tourism, while the people in the mountains and valleys
focus on farming. Likewise, one town or city may appear very European, while many
more rural areas may maintain its roots in Africa depending on the ethnic make-up
and history of the people.