Dominican Republic Feature


Did You Know?

A Growing Multiracial Mix

Multiculturalism characterizes the Dominican Republic, where the official language is Spanish and where 73% of the Dominicans are classified as mixed-race. Add to that the 11% who are of African origin and 16% who are of European descent, and the cultural variety continues to grow. The next census will have to catch up with the number of Norte Americanos and other expats who have chosen to live here, often after retirement.

Just What Is Island Time?

You've heard tell of the phenomenon called island time, and in the Dominican Republic this generally refers to the mindset that there is no point in hurrying. But the Dominican Republic is really on a different island time than the United States. The local time zone is Eastern Caribbean Time. In winter the Dominican Republic is one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time (the rest of the year it's on the same time). Since the Dominican Republic does not observe daylight savings time, you might say it's in an endless summer. But what this means in reality is that at sunset in winter, darkness really does fall … and suddenly.

The Peso Is a Good Deal for Americans

Since the Dominican Republic has such strong economic ties to the United States, U.S. greenbacks are not only widely accepted but also desired. Although the island's currency—the peso—has increased in value, the Dominican Republic is one place where the dollar is still quite strong. Independent cambios (currency-exchange offices) often give a better rate than banks and have longer hours.

The Dominican Republic Has a Prosperous Japanese Community

Thanks to Generalissimo Rafael L. Trujillo, who implemented an immigration program in the 1950s, descendants of the 200 Japanese families that he "imported" to the fertile mountain region of Constanza have prospered. Trujillo's original intention was to establish a strong agricultural community and bolster the area's economy. These industrious immigrants did just that, and today, amid strawberry fields and flower farms, the prominent but still small community of Japanese-Dominican families has prospered and built substantial homes in the Dominican "Alps."

Juan Luis Guerra Is Merengue's Superstar

In 2007 the classically trained Juan Luis Guerra won four Grammys at the Latin Grammy Awards. He blends jazz-influenced merengue and sentimental bachatas (traditional country ballads) with his own hip lyrics. Merengue, invented in the Dominican Republic, combines the sounds of the aboriginal guiro (a metal "grater" that is scratched), the tambora (an African lap drum), and the accordion. Indeed, Guerra's renditions are refinements. As Guerra has grown more religious, there have been significant changes in his lyrics; they are more like prayers, but they are still poetry. In 2009 he shared the stage at Santo Domingo's Olympic Stadium in a concert to raise money for Haitian children after their devastating earthquake. Guerra pleased the crowd by singing some of his original classics, and millions of dollars were raised.

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