Passport to Dominican Republic

One of the most enchanting places to visit in the Caribbean is the Dominican Republic. Located on the island of Hispaniola and east of Haiti, the Dominican Republic is a beautiful country with rich culture.

It was first inhabited by Taino natives until the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. Santo Domingo, the country’s capital, was the first European settlement in North and South America. It is well known for its historic landmarks. There you can find the first street, university, and cathedral in the Americas.

Like many Latin American cultures, Dominican culture is a fusion. Its blend of Spanish, Taino and African influences is more evident in Domincan food. Ingredients like yucca, potatoes and plantain dominate most dishes and are a part of the Taino influence.

“Tostones” or fried plantains are a favorite side dish. The plantains are sliced, deep fried, flattened and sprinkled with salt. One popular main dish is “La Bandera,” or the flag, made up of stewed meat , white rice and red beans served lined up on a plate imitating a flag. Many Dominican dishes include ”sofrito,” a unique blend of spices including cilantro or oregano, onion, garlic, tomato and olive oil. Cheese is also often served on the side.

Some of the most popular Latin music originated in the Dominican Republic. Bachata, a slow but rhythmic music, first came to be in the early 1900s in the Dominican countryside and rural neighborhoods but was not popular until the 1960s. Bachata songs usually deal with heart-break and bittersweet romance. Some of its most famous artists include Aventura and Andy Andy.

Merengue, the national Dominican music, is a fast paced arrangement of a maraca sounding güira and drums. Like bachata, it also originated in rural areas of the country. Juan Luis Guerra is an internationally known merengue singer, as well as Eddy Herrera.

Spanish is the official language of the country, However, there are many “Dominicanismos” that set apart Dominican Spanish from Spanish in other countries. For example, an orange is a “china” making orange juice “jugo de china.” An ice-cone is also known as “frio-frio” and a bus is called a “guagua.”

One of the things that makes the Dominican Republic very attractive, aside from its culture and history, is its perfect weather. Dominican climate is tropical year round; its average annual temperatures range from the upper 60s (Fahrenheit) to lower 90s. The country is made up of beautiful tropical forests, beaches and mountain valleys.

The white beaches of Punta Cana on the eastern cost of the Domincan Republic is known to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world surrounded by turquoise waters. Some of Punta Cana’s most popular attractions are the House Museum of Ponce de León, a small palace built by the famous explorer Juan Ponce de León in the early 1500s, and Manati Park full of reptiles birds and professional shows with animals.

At Punta Cana you can also enjoy many nature excursions including but not limited to jeep safaris across the tropical forest. Visitors of Punta Cana will find excellent hospitality in one of the many all-inclusive resorts in the area.

The most exciting and lively of all Dominican events is “Carnaval,” celebrated during the entire month of February. Each Sunday during that month, different cities hold their own parades with elaborate costumes, music and dancing. Every region highlights it customs and history in its celebration. The event ends with the grand national Carnival in along Santo Domingo’s seaside promenade. The “Carnaval” is a celebration of tradition throughout the entire country, a reflection of vibrant Dominican culture.

March 2011


 

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