Animals and Plants
What is growing in the Dominican Republic?
30 percent of the area in the Dominican Republic is under nature protection. There are many national parks of which Los Haitises is the most famous. In addition to many orchids, many mangroves also grow here. Rainforest grows on the mountain slopes, shrubs and thorn bushes in the drier savannas of the east. Palm trees are particularly noticeable on the coast, but they also grow in the forests and often peek out from between other trees. The national flower is a cactus called Pereskia quisqueyana. The West Indian mahogany tree has been named the national tree.
Which animals live here?
Mammals are only found in a few species, most of them are bats. But the sand weevil also lives here. There are only two types of it, one lives in Cuba, the other in Hispaniola and thus also in the Dominican Republic. Weevils eat insects. They find them by digging through the ground with their pointed snouts.
Palm babblers and other feathered ones
A great diversity in the bird world. In the Jaragua National Park, flamingos can be seen among many other birds. The national bird is the palm chatterer, which breeds on royal palms. The green-feathered blue-crowned parrot is a parrot that was originally only native to Hispaniola. He was introduced to Puerto Rico. The broad-beaked is also endemic to Hispaniola.
American crocodiles in Lake Enriquillo
Reptiles are also present in a few species. Lizards and iguanas occur, including the rhinoceros iguana as an endemic species. American crocodiles live in Central America and on some Caribbean islands. In the Dominican Republic they can be found in the mouth of the Yaque del Norte and in Lake Enriquillo. They can live there because they also like salt water. Their occurrence on Lake Enriquillo is one of the largest at all. Males grow up to seven meters long. The pointed crocodiles are named after their actually more pointed mouth than other crocodiles.
Tourism brings money into the country
The main source of income for the Dominican Republic has been tourism for many years. Around 7 million people come every year. This makes the country the most common destination for tourists in the Caribbean. Most come from the USA and Canada, followed by Germans and French. The services, including tourism, generate 61 percent for the country and around 64 percent of the people work in this field.
Sugar cane and tobacco
The importance of agriculture, however, has declined sharply. It used to be different. Sugar cane was the most important crop that was exported. But when prices collapsed in the 1980s, there was a sharp decline in cultivation. For this, mining gained in importance. Iron nickel, gold, silver and bauxite were mined. In the meantime, this has also been reversed.
Today, 14 percent of Dominicans work in agriculture, which contributes just under 6 percent to the country’s economic output. In addition to sugar cane, tobacco, cocoa, coffee and bananas, avocados are grown. The Dominican Republic is the world’s second largest producer of avocados after Mexico.
20 percent of the people work in industry, 33 percent of which are earned. Factories process food such as sugar cane into sugar. Clothing, shoes, cigars, medical instruments, jewelry and cement are also made.
The economy is running, but…
As a country located in Central America according to indexdotcom, the Dominican Republic is doing well economically, but there are still problems. Corruption is widespread, incomes are very unevenly distributed and most of the land is owned by a few rich people. The power supply often breaks down. The illegal immigrants from Haiti are often exploited and badly treated. Child labor is also a problem.
Typical Dominican Republic
Carnival and Music
As in all Caribbean countries, carnival is celebrated extensively. The parades take place at the end of February on Independence Day. People celebrate and dance in colorful costumes and to loud music. Certain characters appear again and again, for example the Cojuelo, a devil.
Merengue, a musical style that originated in the Dominican Republic, is also part of the carnival. Traditional instruments are a drum, the accordion and the güira, a metal percussion instrument. In July there is a merengue festival in Santo Domingo, where groups compete against each other. To merengue music, you dance the dance of the same name with a lot of hip swing.
A second style of music also comes from here: Bachata. Guitars are the most important instruments. Bachata also includes a dance of the same name.
Baseball is the national sport in the Dominican Republic. The Dominicans call it pelota. There is a six-team baseball league. Other popular sports are boxing and volleyball.
Children and School
School in the Dominican Republic
Children in the Dominican Republic start school when they are 6 years old. However, compulsory schooling begins one year earlier, i.e. the last year of kindergarten is compulsory for everyone. Compulsory schooling ends at the age of 14 after eight years of primary school. Then the children leave school. Those who continue to go to school can acquire university access after four years.
The school year begins in mid-August and is divided into two half-years. There are holidays at Christmas and eight-week summer holidays from mid-June. The school day starts at 8 a.m. in most schools and ends at 1 p.m. So the afternoon is free. All children wear a school uniform, as you can see in the photos.
Not everyone goes to school
But not all children go to school. 14 percent of a year do not go to school. There are parents who cannot afford to buy school uniforms, especially when several children in a family need one. Then there are the children of illegal immigrants from Haiti. Without a Dominican birth certificate, these children cannot be sent to school.
Poor children and child labor
Many families in the Dominican Republic live in poverty. Then of course the children feel bad too. They do not have enough to eat or their parents cannot pay for their school uniform. There are many unemployed. 14 out of 100 children do not go to school.
There is also a problem with child labor. 13 percent of children work, with more boys than girls being affected. Most of them work in agriculture, on plantations for sugar cane, rice, coffee and tomatoes. Others toil on the street. They are shoe shiners, salespeople or windshield washers. It is particularly difficult for children from Haitian immigrant families. They are often denied school attendance because they do not have documents.
Eating in Dominican Republic
Mangu for breakfast
A traditional breakfast in the Dominican Republic includes fried eggs, fried salami, fried cheese, sometimes avocado, but especially mangu. This is a porridge made from cooked green plantains that are pureed with the cooking water. In the photo you can see Mangú. May not look so tasty, but it has to taste good. An American who ate Mangu is said to have exclaimed “Man, good!” (Man, good!), Which is where the name of the dish came from!
At noon the flag
The main meal is lunch. People like to eat “La Bandera”, which translates as “the flag”. It’s made from rice, red beans, and meat. Sancocho is served just as often. This is a stew that is usually made from several types of meat. Mofongo actually comes from Puerto Rico, but is also popular in the Dominican Republic. It is a puree made from plantains, seasoned with garlic, served with pork rind and in chicken broth. Sofrito serves as the basis for many dishes and as a seasoning for meat. It is cooked from very finely chopped peppers, chilli, onions, oregano and coriander.
Plantains and other ingredients
Plantains are not only used for mangú and mofongo, but also fried in slices, for example. These are then called tostones. A puree of plantains and pumpkin, cooked in a banana leaf, becomes pasteles with minced meat. Manioc, sweet potatoes, beans and yams are also popular in Dominican cuisine. Rice is the most common side dish. Together with pigeon peas, it becomes Moro de guandoles. You can find a recipe for this in our tips for participation ! On the central south coast, bulgur is also popular, especially as a salad, followed by quipesis called. In addition to meat, a lot of fish is also eaten.