The vast majority of Dominicans are mulattoes, and there’s a sprinkling of mestizos and white people mixed in. It’s possible that some areas have a different racial mix than others, but I only visited four places, and wasn’t able to venture out as much as planned, due to illness.
I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again: When you travel (internationally or domestically) greet people with a smile, treat them with respect, don’t be overly stingy and be kind. If you do this, then you’ll find that almost everybody will reciprocate – and you’ll enjoy yourself. People can sense hostility. So if you’re one of those people who is overly fearful of certain demographics, or has a chip on his shoulder, locals will sense this, and you’ll get exactly what you expected: A negative experience.
I’ve already written that most of the Dominicans I encountered were very friendly. Obviously, there were exceptions.
While walking along a beach with a friend (a man I met at the hotel), there was an Asian man who was accompanied by what looked like a local (black) woman. One of the many hawkers aggressively approached the couple, and loudly said “You CHINESE? You look CHINESE!” Then his buddy said something inaudible, and he replied something to the effect of “I don’t talk to white people.”
Immediately afterwards, he turned to me and tried to engage me, probably to sell me something. I told him, “You just said you don’t talk to white people, so I’m not talking to you.” His buddy burst out laughing; he thought it was hilarious. The man persisted, and I said, “This was your decision, not mine.”
A little while later, I overheard somebody else referring to “black brothers.” This was in English, which was interesting. Apparently, in that specific location, there’s a lot of black nationalism. But this was an unusual area, with many tourists and probably some shady business. I don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect that some of the tourists are pedophiles, and some probably deal in drugs. I didn’t ask, but the place did make me uncomfortable, and my visit there was short.
In general, my impression was that Dominicans are not hostile to non-blacks…
… and the country used to be a lot whiter than it is now, but due to the constant influx of Haitians, it’s getting blacker and blacker. I’ve heard the same thing about neighboring Puerto Rico, which is culturally identical to Dominican Republic.
I only spoke to a handful of locals about Haitians, so obviously, I’m not an expert. But the first person I spoke to told me that they have a lot of babies, have higher crime-rates, and that they eat ANYTHING. In fact, he said that just the other day, he saw a bunch of them cooking a cat.
I met a young man at the resort, and starting chatting with him. It turned out he’s married to a Haitian woman, so I ended up chatting with her too. She confirmed that Haitians do, indeed, eat cats – except for one village where they eat dogs instead. The man told me that they spend a good part of the year in Haiti, and that it’s not nearly as bad as people say it is. He claimed that it’s a “well-kept secret” because tourists haven’t spoiled it yet. The beaches are still pristine and it’s generally not dangerous, depending on the area. The lady told me that Haitians are very classist. Her mother had come from a poor background, and for that she was looked down upon. But her father was from a wealthier family, and she, herself, had attended a good private school. She’s fluent in several languages, including Romanian. Proper French is taught in the better Haitian schools.
I asked one of the resort employees in Puerto Plata about his thoughts on Haitians. He said that Dominicans can generally identify them by their appearance; they’re darker than most Dominicans, and they have smaller ears.
Like other non-white/non-Asian countries, the crime rate is high. Almost all dwellings have bars over the windows and patios. Many neighborhoods have guarded security gates with controlled access. The streets, at least in Punta Cana, don’t have any drainage; when it rains, the water can be over a foot deep, and some spots are practically impassible.
On the other hand, the intercity bus system is excellent. I was truly impressed. The buses are very modern, comfortable, efficient, on-time, clean and safe. These are not tourist buses, but buses that everybody uses – and they’re very reasonably priced.
As for the infrastructure, I thought it looked good, at least in the cities. Of course, a lot of it looked aged and in need of painting, but we must take into account that the rainy seasons are hard on concrete.
As might be expected, this is what the politicians look like:
Edit: I thought it should be mentioned that Haiti and the Dominican Republic have had a contentious relationship, with Haiti having ruled over what is now Dominican Republic in the past, the later having fought a war to gain its independence.
I’ll quote a recent Quora dialog:
We Dominicans are afraid of the Haitianization of our country. That we perceive of Haiti is all negative.
Haitians in the Dominican Republic are more than 90% undocumented, they live in crowded fields and cities, they are illiterate and in extreme poverty, things that do not help the development of the Dominican Republic and that scares us, added to the historical context, Haiti has always been a hostile neighbor, a neighbor who has done us a lot of harm. They have invaded us and trampled on our dignity.
We Dominicans dream of a government that applies the immigration law and expels all the undocumented, which are more than 900,000 Haitians.
Haiti has many problems but these problems have not been caused by the Dominican Republic, so it is not our responsibility to carry Haiti.
I just got back from D.R. I was told there that Haitians have a lot of babies, eat anything (including cats) and have high crime rates. Thoughts?
They are the poorest segment of society and have a habit of having many children 4, 5, 7 and that only contributes to widening the circle of poverty.
The Dominican Republic will never be able to eliminate extreme poverty as long as it does not control undocumented Haitian immigration, every day undocumented Haitians enter through the mountains and instead very few are deported.
It seems that Haitian migration presents an existential threat to your country. If nothing is done, D.R. Will end up being merely an extension of Haiti.
Sadly it is so, but politically the Dominican Republic is very social democratic. We complain about uncontrolled Haitian irregular immigration, but we always vote for center-left parties, and this ideology has complexes to face irregular immigration throughout the world.
If you choose to vacation in Dominican Republic, the locals will welcome you with open arms.