UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Dominican Republic - People

The Dominican Republic is a representative constitutional democracy with a population of approximately 9.7 million, plus an estimated 900,000 to 1.2 million undocumented immigrants, mostly Haitians or their descendants. Slightly fewer than half of Dominicans live in rural areas; many are small landholders. Haitians form the largest foreign minority group. All religions are tolerated; the state religion is Roman Catholicism.

In the caribbean (specifically, Dominican Republic) triguena or trigueno depending on wether the person is male or female, is someone identified of three (tri)cultures. Namely,someone of indigenous (carib, quisqueyano or taino indians)african (from the slaves brought over by ships)and Spanish (spain)heritage. It has been used in the latino/caribbean culture as a term of endearment, a compliment but also at times as a descriptive word when neither morena or blanca seem to completely describe the subject.

Customs and institutions in the Dominican Republic have a strong Spanish influence. European, Latin, and American influences are also present in Dominican culture. American influence on Dominican culture is likely due to the large Dominican population (estimated at 1 million) that resides in the United States. These US residents visit the Dominican Republic frequently, bringing with them US consumer goods and cultural influences.

Most Dominicans believe neighbors should assist each other in times of need. City families, both wealthy and poor, maintain ties with their kin in the countryside and provide assistance. Family members who have made the transition from urban life assist new urban migrants.

Individuality, particularly among Dominican males, is highly valued. Because personal dignity and honor are placed above responsibilities to a group, it is sometimes difficult to establish a common effort toward a goal. Machismo, or an exaggerated perception of masculinity, is also a prevailing attitude among Dominicans, particularly in rural areas.

Trust is highly valued and not quickly or easily gained by outsiders. Dominicans are normally generous and helpful toward those they trust. Friends and relationships are more important than schedules. Family loyalties are considered paramount, as the family represents the primary source of social identity.

Dominicans take pride in their personal appearance and place importance on dressing well. Jeans and short skirts are acceptable for women in urban areas, but dresses or skirts and blouses are more common in the countryside. Dominicans always dress well for special events. Except when they are at beaches or when performing manual labor, men wear long pants and stylish shirts. Professional men wear business suits or the traditional chacabana, a white shirt worn over dark trousers.

The racial composition in the Dominican Republic is homogenous: 73 percent of the population descends from intermarriage between Europeans and Africans, 16 percent is of European descent, and 11 percent is of African descent.

Although Dominicans share many cultural attributes, social and economic status, lifestyle, ethnic heritage, education, skin color, and appearance contribute heavily to social status. There was evidence of racial prejudice and discrimination against persons of dark complexion, but the government denied such prejudice or discrimination existed and, consequently, did little to address the problem. Prejudice against Haitians disadvantaged Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent, as well as other foreigners of dark complexion. Civil society and international organizations reported that officials denied health care and documentation services to persons of Haitian descent.

In Santo Domingo and Santiago, there is a further distinction between families of the first and second ranks of the wealthiest class. Those of the first rank venerate their ancestry and claim to be part of the 100 families that are referred to locally as the tutumpote (totem pole). Those of the second rank include descendants of successful immigrants and businessmen who married into established families.

The middle class represents a third of the population, concentrated in the ranks of government professionals and the private sector. This middle class struggles to maintain its economic standing, expand its political participation, and gain social acceptance and economic prosperity. Members of this group have no independent source of wealth and are affected by changes in economic conditions. There is limited upward mobility for those in the middle class.

Low pay and employment rates define life for most urban Dominicans. Although the shantytowns or barrios around Santo Domingo rarely have electricity, streets, running water, or sewage facilities, city life is preferable to conditions in impoverished rural areas (campo). However, 39 percent of the population lives in the campo as peasants, tenant farmers, or sharecroppers, producing enough food to subsist on without having to travel to the city, where food is expensive.

Seventy-five percent of the Dominican population is poorly educated. However, because Dominicans of all social classes believe education is essential for economic improvement, they often make financial sacrifices to hire tutors for their children.

The country provides tuition-free public education through the high school level. Attendance is mandatory through sixth grade, but many children cannot attend or do not complete school for various reasons. Scarce funding results in limited resources and understaffed facilities. Parents and teachers must provide basic supplies, including pencils and paper. Textbooks and other materials are scarce. Many urban families send their children to private schools called colegios. University education is available, and trade schools provide technical training.

In 2001, the overall literacy rate in the Dominican Republic was 82.1 percent. However, literacy in the campo has been estimated to be as low as 20 percent.

Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the means and information to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Family-planning NGOs provided contraceptives without charge. Many low-income women, however, used them inconsistently due to irregular availability and societal influences. Religious beliefs and social customs reduced the use of modern methods of family planning.

According to 2016 estimates by the UN Fund for Population (UNFPA), 69 percent of women used a modern method of contraception, and 11 percent of women had an unmet need for family planning; unmet need was higher among young women and adolescents (28 percent), and sterilization accounted for nearly half of all methods used, according to UNFPA. UNFPA reported that the adolescent birth rate was also high, at 90 births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19, and 21 percent of adolescents were mothers or pregnant. Although 98 percent of births were attended by skilled health personnel, the maternal mortality was 92 deaths per 100,000 live births, and the lifetime risk of maternal death was one in 400, according to 2015 UN estimates.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list