The Dominican Republic (DR) comprises the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with Haiti. It is bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean; on the east by the Mona Passage, which separates it from Puerto Rico; on the south by the Caribbean Sea. On the west it shares a 360 km frontier with Haiti. It has a total land area of 48,734 sq km.
The majority of the population (73%) is of mixed African and European (Spanish) descent. People of European (16%) and African (11%) descent make up the remainder. During the early colonial period indigenous Taíno-Arawak elements were also incorporated into the overall population mix.
Haitians, who represent a substantial minority of up to a million people, form a distinct cultural and linguistic group within the Dominican Republic. Although many Dominicans have Haitian ancestors and connections, anti-Haitian xenophobia is rife. This is partly a legacy of the two countries' troubled history and also a reflection of Haitians' low economic status.
Despite the African and indigenous ancestral mixtures that constitute the population, Dominicans perceive themselves and Dominican culture as essentially urban, modernist, Catholic, Spanish-European and superior. In contrast, Haitians and their culture are perceived as being rural, backward, animist, African with a French veneer and inferior. Although both societies are Roman Catholic, most Haitians practise the syncretistic African-based religion of Vodun, which Dominicans look down upon.
Few government officials acknowledge the existence of this prejudice; they regularly and publicly assert that there is no discrimination against Haitians or other persons of dark complexion.
Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples
573 days ago - A new piece of legislation has been proposed in the Dominican Republic that would...