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Culture & Identity of the Dominican Republic

Introduction

The way of life in the Dominican Republic is fairly diverse, although there are aspects of Caribbean island time ingrained in the culture as well as differences by occupation and in the urban-rural divide.

Like so much of the Caribbean, life in Dominican Republic moves as a leisurely pace as the present company always seems to be more important than a meeting a future acquaintance. This tardiness isn't to the extreme for most people, but it does indicate the importance of people and socialization.

Despite the relaxed attitude, many people do have jobs that provide some routine and schedule to life. Most of the working population is employed in the services and industrial sectors and for most of these people working hours are steady, often times from about 8:00 am to about 5:00 pm. This gives some structure to the week and alters the lifestyle for many people. However, for others, like the country's many farmers, the daily and weekly schedule is more dependent on weather and the seasons.

There is also a divide in the lifestyle between urbanites and those living in more rural areas. City life is more active as people have more accessibility to numerous amenities, public transportation is common, schools are closer, and the entertainment options are numerous. Likewise, some beach resort towns, although small, offer many of these same amenities due to tourists, which also provides jobs.

Religion also plays a role in the way of life for many people. Many people attend church every Sunday and for many schools, holy week is off of school to celebrate Easter. For those who regularly attend church on Sundays, it is often followed up with socialization with neighbors and other church goers and the day may be spent at home with family.

Identity

The people of the Dominican Republic generally identify as being Dominican (with the stress being on the first "i," not to be confused with the term of the same name by which the people of Dominica identify), but how this is defined is rather confusing. The people have been trained to believe (under European rule) that skin color dictates social standing and today there is a belief that the lighter color a person's skin, the better social standing that person holds. This has created an identity that refuses to accept the people's African past and shuns those with darker skin. These people with darker skin, who are the majority, call themselves "Indio," and claim their skin color is due to their American Indian heritage, which is only true in rare cases and, when true, is generally a very small percentage of their ethnic make-up. Due to this mentality, "Dominican" is defined by speaking Spanish as well as other European traits, such as being a member of the Catholic Church. By this definition, nearly every citizen of the Dominican Republic is included in the identity, but the people are significantly divided on social terms based on skin color.

This page was last updated: December, 2013