The geography of the Dominican Republic is the most diverse in the Caribbean, ranging from desert plains to rainforest valleys to 10,000-foot high mountains to white sand beaches. Santo Domingo is the oldest city in the Americas. Its historic colonial quarter includes the Americas’ first cathedral, hospital, chapel, and university. However, the true charm and beauty of the Dominican Republic is reflected in its people.
Most Dominicans consider the family to be the basic element of society. Families are very close, and they stay close. It is not unusual to find grandparents living at home, fully integrated in the life of the family. A majority of young people stay living with their parents, even after entering college or becoming financially independent. They usually will not leave the home until they get married, and even then, they will try to remain close to their parents geographically.
Dominican families are very conservative and protective of their children. Parents have to know their children’s friends before letting them go out and parents will expect their children to ask for their authorization before going out. It is not common for children to receive house keys. Most of the time when they go out at night parents wait up for them to return home.
AFSers coming from the Dominican Republic may not have the modern facilities, comforts and latest gadgets to which we have be accustomed. Not many houses have air conditioning, electric dishwashers, microwave ovens, and so on.
Dominican teens devote most of their time during the week to homework. On weekends teenagers enjoy getting together with friends, going to movies or dancing, relaxing in local cafes, or just hanging out in the town square.
The basic meal consists of rice and beans prepared in many different ways, seasoned but not spicy. Other staples of the Dominican diet are meat, plantains, tubers, juice and cheese. Many dishes are fried in vegetable oil. In the Dominican Republic, the whole family customarily eats the same food at meals together. Many imported foods are available, but they are expensive.
Spanish is the primary language in the Dominican Republic. The majority or the population is Roman Catholic.