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In Dominican Republic

Country update

This video was released in July 2022.
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Pray for Dominican Republic

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Our church partners supporting children and caregivers

Wisdom for those in leadership as they serve their communities

Protection and good health for vulnerable children and families

Did you know?

Music and dance are very important to Dominican culture. Two of the most popular types of music are merengue and bachata — both perfect for dancing.

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Life in Dominican Republic

Official Country Name: Dominican Republic

Capital City: Santo Domingo

Population: More than 11.2 million

Official Languages: Spanish

Life expectancy: Male 69 years, female 76 years

Population with access to safe drinking water: 74%

Infant mortality rate: 27 deaths / 1,000 live births

Percentage of children under the age of 5 underweight: 4.0%

Adult literacy rate: Male 95%, female 95%

Religion: Approximately 52.5% of the population are Roman Catholic, 21% Protestant, and 26.5% are of another/unspecified religion or none.

Percentage living on less than $2.15 a day: 0.8%

Source: World Bank and 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom by the Office of International Religious Freedom, U.S Department of State

Hispaniola, the second-largest island of the West Indies, is divided politically into the Dominican Republic, which occupies about two-thirds of the country to the east, and the Republic of Haiti in the west. Before Spanish colonisation in the late 15th century, the Taino people lived in village-centred societies in what is now the Dominican Republic.

Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1492 and named it La Isla Española (Hispaniola in its Anglicised form).

The Tainos welcomed Columbus on his first voyage in 1492, but subsequent colonisers were brutal, reducing the Taino population from one million to around 500 in 50 years. To ensure adequate labour for plantations, the Spanish brought African men and women to the island in 1503 to make them work as enslaved people.

In the 1600s, the French and the Spanish fought for control of the island, eventually dividing it into the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Haiti.

A turbulent history followed, with independence from Spain claimed in 1821. The country briefly returned to Spanish Rule in 1861 before independence was restored in 1865. Economic difficulties, the threat of European intervention and ongoing internal disorders led to a U.S. occupation in 1916 and the establishment of a military government in the Dominican Republic. The occupation ended in 1924 with a democratically elected Dominican government.

The country suffers from marked income inequality, and unemployment is a problem. The poorest half of the population receives less than one-fifth of GDP, while the wealthiest 10% enjoys nearly 40%.

The Dominican Republic has many poets, essayists, and novelists, including former president Juan Bosch. Architecture is another important part of Dominican culture and is clear to see in the Spanish colonial buildings in the capital Santo Domingo.

Dominican folk music features instruments such as the maracas, tambora (small drum), accordion and the guirra (a percussion instrument scraped with a metal rod). The national dance is the méringue.

Spanish: Hola, ¿cómo estás? (Hi, how are you?), Bien, gracias. (Fine, thanks.), Me llamo ... (My name is ...), ¿Cómo te llamas? (What's your name?)

Sports and Games
Baseball is a popular sport in the Dominican Republic. Many professional players in the United States come from the Dominican Republic. El Pañuelo (The Handkerchief) and El Juego de la Silla (The Game of the Chair) are two popular games you may hear Dominican children refer to.

Typical Foods
A dish of beans and rice is traditionally called the Dominican flag because it's the basic Dominican meal.

The typical school year runs from September to June. Education is compulsory for children aged seven to 14 years; however, many struggle to attend due to a shortage of teachers, facilities and funds.

Education is vitally important to Dominican families who want their children to be able to secure a good profession when they grow up. As a result, families often spend a high percentage of their income on educating their children, especially as they go to higher education.

This is a particular challenge for families from rural communities and those who have moved to the cities in search of work. For decades families from rural communities have been moving to urban areas searching for a job. The majority have few qualifications and struggle to get work in the city and to raise funds to educate their own children.

Even for those who have received an education, the job market is fierce in the Dominican Republic. Employers often look for university graduates with multiple skills and can speak many foreign languages.

Source: UNICEF

Approximately 52.5% of the population are Roman Catholic, 21% Protestant, and 26.5% are of another/unspecified religion or none.
There is no state religion in the Dominican Republic. However, the government signed a concordat in 1954 with the Vatican giving the Catholic Church special privileges not granted to other religions. These include the use of public funds to underwrite some church expenses, including renovating church facilities and exemption from customs duties when importing goods.
Religious groups are required to register with the government to operate legally. If other religious groups wish to be exempt from import fees, they need to apply directly to the office of the presidency.
Currently, Roman Catholic weddings are the only religious marriages the government recognises, although civil unions are legal as well.
A 2000 law requires that the Bible be read in public schools, but it is not enforced. Private schools are not obliged to include Bible reading among their weekly activities.
Statistics from the International Religious Freedom Report, released in 2022 by the Office of International Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State

Providing support in Dominican Republic

Ricardo was one of more than 3,000 children with malnutrition in the Dominican Republic who benefitted from three months of emergency food provisions. Through this intervention, Ricardo’s health improved, and he

Compassion UK Christian Child Development, registered charity in England and Wales (1077216) and Scotland (SC045059). A company limited by guarantee, Registered in England and Wales company number 03719092. Registered address: Compassion House, Barley Way, Fleet, Hampshire, GU51 2UT.