Explore the Dominican Republic: A Valuable Destination for Spanish Learners
The Dominican Republic is the second-largest country in the Caribbean and a paradise for travelers.
The island is known for its uncharted beaches, warm people, delicious flavors, diversity, and more. The official language is also Spanish, making the Dominican Republic a valuable destination for Spanish immersion.
A trip to Republica Dominicana is guaranteed to elevate your language skills as you explore dreamy destinations and unique experiences.
Keep reading for a captivating guide to visiting the Dominican Republic. We’ll discover the enchanting destinations of the island, and the fascinating history, culture, and useful travel tips!
A Brief History of Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic was first inhabited by the taínos, peaceful people who were devoted to agriculture. The taíno society had an established political system that divided the Dominican Republic map into 5 regions. They were very well organized.
As taíno society already thrived, the Spanish conquistadors arrived on the island in 1492. Christopher Columbus established a colony and the island experienced the imposition of foreign cultures. The taíno were heavily decimated due to slavery and disease.
Being the first territory to be invaded by Europeans, República Dominicana saw many “firsts” in the American continent. The first catholic church, first sugar cane plantation, first university, first hospital, and first indigenous rebellions took place in the Dominican Republic.
Citizens of Haiti invaded the Dominican Republic and attempted to unify it. This lasted for a brief period and clashed with independence efforts from Spain in the late 1800s.
Read about The History of Dominican Republic’s Independence Day in this insightful blog post.
The Dominican Republic was also shortly occupied by the United States due to a rising interest in sugar cane production in the 1900s.
From 1930 to 1961, the country was under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. He’s known for being one of the most brutal and corrupt dictators in history. He prosecuted activists and collected a massive fortune for himself. After plots to overthrow him; and a growing paranoia due to his falling regime, Trujillo was assassinated.
Since this dark period of history, the Dominican Republic has been on the road to democracy. The country’s been affected by economic and social reforms but continues to develop nonetheless
Dominican Republic Highlights
The Dominican Republic currency is the peso dominicano (Dominican peso). The United States dollar is widely accepted, which facilitates matters for travelers.
The Dominican Republic population is made of over 10 million people of mestizo (mixed) ethnicity.
The immigrant community is quite diverse. Looking back in time, the Spanish conquistadors were soon joined by Italians, French, British, and German settlers. Other immigrants from Japan, China, the Middle East, and North Africa found their way to the Dominican Republic in the coming years. This created an even larger melting pot of ethnicities in the Dominican Republic.
More current events have sparked a large influx of Haitians into the island. Each of these migration waves have shaped the cultural diversity in the country today.
The Dominican Republic allows religious freedom and has faithful of several religions. 50% of the population is Christian catholic. There’s a strong syncretism between indigenous, Spanish, and African beliefs. Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and evangelical faith also have a following in the country.
The official language of the Dominican Republic is Spanish, followed by English and Haitian Creole speakers. Dominican Spanish, as the U.S. diaspora calls it, is a blend of several dialects that takes from indigenous and African cultures.
The slang and the accent of Dominicans are truly memorable, making it an endearing place for you to practice Spanish fluency.
Discover more about Spanish in the Dominican Republic in this curiosity-packed blog post.
The cultures of the Dominican Republic hold vibrant, colorful, and joyful celebrations throughout the year.
La noche buena (Christmas eve) and Christmas are large holidays in the nation. They bring entire families together and the celebration goes on for days. There are succulent foods and gifts.
Easter and Holy Week are also widely celebrated. Most families go on holiday and take a break in the idyllic Dominican beaches.
El carnaval Dominicano (Dominican carnival) is the major festivity. It takes place in February and stands out for being celebrated in every corner.
There are parades, costumes, music, dancing, and events in most cities and towns nationwide. It’s a magnificent and flamboyant event that attracts travelers from all over the world. These visitors commit to the spirits of the holiday and even dress up with the Dominican Republic flag.
Dominicans are warm and welcoming people, they are proud of their heritage and enjoy sharing it. Learn about 10 Amazing Festivals In the Dominican Republic You Want to Take Part In.
Dominican Music and Arts
Music and arts are strongly tied to diverse Dominican roots. There is clear evidence of African, Spanish, and Middle Eastern influences.
The mixture of local beats with genres like salsa, merengue, and bolero make Dominican music stand out. A perfect example is world-renowned singer Juan Luis Guerra.
Haitian-styled paintings and Impressionist masterpieces have put Dominican artists on the map. The country is also known for its artisan productions of textiles, jewelry, baskets, dolls, and wood carvings.
Dominican literature has also earned its place at the top. Valuable literary poetry classics and novels have been produced in the Dominican Republic. Many successful authors have been forced to write from exile and share in their narratives what life as a Dominican is abroad.
Experience the magic of Dominican literature with the Books and Poems by Julia Alvarez.
Dominican Republic Sports
La pelota (baseball) is the Dominican Republic’s favorite sport. People of all backgrounds share a passion for this game and proudly honor it.
Many Dominicans are fans of the Major Baseball Leagues, nevertheless, the team’s back home holds the heart of enthusiasts. Baseball season takes place in the Dominican Republic from October to January.
Dominican Cuisine and Flavors
Dominican Republic flavors stand out for the use of local ingredients. Lunch is the most important meal of the day where people enjoy soups, stews, and sweet desserts.
People use rice, plantain, coconut, beans, avocado, cassava, and different meats.
Here’s a list of favorite Dominican dishes you can’t miss.
- mangu: a combination of plantain puree, red onion, cheese, salami, and eggs
- bandera dominicana (Dominican flag): a large plate of rice, habichuelas (beans), beef, avocado, and plantain tostones
- sancocho: a stew of chicken, pork, cassava, plantain, and potatoes
- pasteles en hoja (cakes in a leaf): a type of tamale made of plantain and beef
- picalonga: pork street food
- catibias: yuca (cassava) empanadas
La Mamajuana is a fermented herbal drink unique to the Dominican Republic. It’s considered an aphrodisiac and a challenge many travelers decide to try. Mamajuana also has tree bark, herbs, red wine, and rum.
Travel to Dominican Republic
Flights to the Dominican Republic connect it to visitors from Europe, South America, Asia, Central America, Canada, and the United States. There are international airports in several major Dominican Republic cities such as Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, Puerto Plata, and Santiago.
The Dominican Republic also welcomes travelers who enter on cruise ships. The main and secondary ports of entry are often busy and packed with tourists. The island holds the record of having the largest number of cruise destinations in the Caribbean.
Citizens from the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, and Canada are exempt from requiring a visa to enter the Dominican Republic. If you’re visiting from another country, I suggest checking visa requirements ahead of your visit.
What To Do in Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic offers activities for travelers with different interests. It’s a popular wedding destination, it’s a hub for adventure and ecotourism and a resort paradise.
Dominican Republic weather makes its beaches, hills, rivers, and cities a pleasant place. There is colonial architecture, untapped nature, and hospitality.
The country is one of the best Caribbean islands when it comes to facilities and tourism infrastructure. There are luxurious resorts, hotels, sports, and recreation venues; that caters to all styles of travel.
Places to Visit in Dominican Republic
La Romana brings together dreamy white sand beaches, sugar cane fields, golf resorts, and nature preserves of great importance.
It’s the ideal destination for culture, history, and nature enthusiasts. In La Romana, you can trek Cotubanamá National Park, visit Ponce de León’s house, go snorkeling in the island reefs or explore caves.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; is the first travel destination that comes to mind when you hear of the country.
The lengthy coast and coconut palm trees are scenarios of entertainment and leisure for tourists of all ages. There are modern all-inclusive resorts, boutique hotels, family-friendly getaways, museums, history, and plenty of shopping venues.
Santo Domingo was the first city where Spanish settlers were established. Due to the cultural clash, the city harbors impressive history. There are several indigenous history museums you can visit.
The city is a cultural hub of the Dominican Republic. It was recognized as UNESCO world heritage in 1990. The historic center is picturesque and architecturally delightful.
Puerto Plata is the ideal place to visit for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. The coast and forests make it the ideal place for practicing scuba dive, hiking, windsurf, climbing, and exploring.
Read all about the beauty of the Damajagua Cascade in the uncharted Puerto Plata region.
Jaragua National Park
Jaragua National Park is a taíno region known for its cave systems and wide biodiversity. It’s the ideal region to go caving, admire wildlife and amazing vegetation.
The lush natural sceneries and views make Jaragua National Park a place out of the ordinary and off-the-beaten path to tourists.
Things To Consider
The best time to visit the Dominican Republic is before hurricane season. This phenomenon usually takes place between June and November.
The country has a very low crime rate compared to the rest of the region. It’s considered a safe and tourist-friendly place for travelers. Still, following your intuition and common sense is a must during your visit.
The Dominican Republic is open to travelers. No vaccination cards are required. If you present COVID-19 symptoms you can be tested upon arrival.
Be aware that hotels and other facilities may require vaccination proof, testing, temperature checks, or social distancing measures.
Prepare for Your Visit
Pack your bags and book those tickets for an unforgettable holiday to the Dominican Republic!
A trip to this captivating nation is set to fast-track your Spanish fluency with plenty of interaction opportunities. Start preparing for those conversations by joining a free class with our certified Spanish-speaking teachers.
Learning Spanish before going on a trip ensures you’ll have the independence to move around on your own. You’ll have the confidence to ask for directions, buy souvenirs, order food, and connect with new friends.
Speaking Spanish expands your communication possibilities, understanding of the world, and appreciation of diversity. Learn more about our exceptional programs and start learning Spanish today.
Join one of the 40,000 classes that we teach each month and you can experience results like these
“This is the best way for your kid to learn Spanish. It’s one-on-one, taught by native Spanish speakers, and uses a curriculum.”
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– Erica P. Parent of 1
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