ABOUT The Dominican Republic is friendly and welcoming. Much of the Dominican culture can be experienced through its inspiring museums, food, and music. However, to truly understand the depth of the Dominican People, you must experience Carnival. This annual celebration of independence spans the entire country, with each city putting on their own unique version of the festival. They fill the streets with colorful masks, music, and of course, dancing. However, Carnival didn’t always look this way. It is actually the culmination of all three cultures; native Taíno, Spanish and African. Brought together, they create a swirl of energy and culture that you can’t find anywhere else. Carnival lasts throughout the month of February, climaxing on the 27th. Nowhere is this more evident than in their food. As a former Spanish Colony, many of its dishes carry a familiar Latin American feel. Lots of rice, beans, meat and seafood can be found in their cuisine. However, strong influences from its heritage give the meals a unique twist. Traditional Taíno dishes are still made featuring yucca, plantains, and potatoes; as well as African recipes using similar native ingredients. The most common food on the Island is called La Bandera, or “The Flag.” It is made with meat, rice, and red beans. Making the dish distinctly Dominican, many will also serve it with friend plantains called “tostones.” As a culture that loves to eat, the meal will often continue beyond this first course. Be prepared to try boiled green plantain known as “mangú,” “pasteles en hojas,” which are wrapped turnovers cooked in banana leaves; and various casseroles, stews, and meat dishes featuring braised goat, pork and chicken rinds.
CLIMATE Most of the regions in the Dominican Republic get more rain during the summer months than during the winter months. The summer months are warm and moist and relatively sunny. The island gets about 8 hours of sunshine per day. From June till the end of November hurricanes may occur. Winters in the Dominican Republic are not much colder than the summer. During the day temperatures at sea level are still around 30 degrees Celsius. The Dominican Republic is the only country in the Caribbean where subzero temperatures occur. During the winter months the frost line may drop several hundreds of meters and even the inhabited areas get frost and ice.
BEWARE The Dominican Republic is friendly and welcoming. However, there are frequent incidents of violent crime, including murder. These tend to occur within the local community but can sometimes affect tourists and residents. There have been occasional incidents of serious attacks on foreign visitors, as well as more opportunist crime including burglaries, breaking into cars and pick pocketing. By remaining alert to the threat you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim. You should take particular care if you are passing through isolated tourist areas on foot or on tourist scooters, especially at night. If attacked, you should not resist. You should also take precautions to reduce the risk of being targeted. If you leave your hotel complex, do not wear expensive jewellery or carry large amounts of cash or expensive items such as cameras. Keep your valuables, including your passport in hotel safety deposit boxes. Be particularly careful after dark and avoid quiet, poorly lit areas. Be particularly alert if you travel from the airport ‘Las Americas’ in Santo Domingo at night. There have been several reports of passengers being stopped and robbed and/or assaulted en route to their final destination. Most attacks have occurred early in the morning or late at night.