York has the highest concentration of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans according New to the 2002 United States Census report. It is reported that 30.8% of Puerto Ricans and 59.5% of Dominicans in the United States reside in New York. Puerto Ricans and Dominicans make up the largest group of Hispanics residing in New York. As a Hispanic of Dominican background I am often asked whether I am Puerto Rican or Dominican. They stereotype me Puerto Rican. I believe this illustrates the difficulty people of other cultures have differentiating between the two Hispanic groups.
Although there are many similarities in the ethnic makeup of both groups, there are also many differences between the two cultures that distinguish Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. Dominicans ethnic groups are composed of 73% Mestizo, 16% White and 11% Afro-Dominican. On the other hand, the ethnic group of Puerto Ricans consists of 80.5% White (Spanish descent), 8% Black, . 4% Amerindian, .
2% Asian, and 10.9% other. Puerto Ricans are also mixed with Irish, French and other European groups that immigrated to the Island. As a result of similar ethnic groups many Dominicans and Puerto Ricans have similar features, however there are many differences between the two group of Hispanics. Christopher Columbus discovered the Dominican Republic as well as Puerto Rico. With the invasion of these countries the Taino Indians were virtually destroyed through their enslavement. The Spaniards brought into the two Islands, Africans as well as Spaniards which mixed with the natives creating the above mentioned ethnic groups.
The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico were two Islands which was the home of the Tainos. The Tainos were Indians who originated from South America and Spread throughout the West Indies and reached their maximum cultural development in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The Tainos called the Island of Puerto Rico "Borinquen" and the Dominican Republic "Quis quella". Both of these islands have imprinted significant Indian heritage. It is shown in their language, physical traits, food, agriculture, musical instruments and sports.
To give a few examples, the maracas (musical instrument), ham acas, or hammocks, the guiro (musical instrument), cassava bread, Spanish language and pottery were all passed into Dominicans as well as Puerto Ricans from the Indians. The two islands cultures were greatly influenced by the Tainos which explains some of the similarities found between the Dominican and Puerto Ricans. The Spanish forced the Taino people into slavery and as a result the Entire indigenous population was virtually decimated, except for a few who escaped into the remote mountains in Puerto Rico and were known as "jib aros". Nevertheless, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans can be distinguished from each other by listening to the different dialogue of Spanish spoken by the two cultures. Although Dominicans and Puerto Ricans both speak Spanish, the Spanish spoken is diversified with characteristics of informal speech expressions and local words. Dominicans are distinguished by their fast-talking and over emphasis roll of the R's, Puerto Ricans over emphasize the sound of the letter "R".
Culturally Puerto Ricans are more Americanized due to the connection with the United States, while Dominicans come from an island that is still more third world. In addition, Puerto Rico was a colony of the Spanish Empire from 1493 until 1898 when it became a possession of the U.S. As a result of four centuries of living under the influence of Spain, Spanish imprints remained in their literacy as well as artistic trends. The Dominican culture is famous for their musical preferences of Merengue, Bach ata, and Guiro Ripe ao. The merengue is considered the National dance of the Dominican people which stems from African and European dances. Although, the Puerto Ricans dance and listen to Merengue they are known for their love of Salsa.
Salsa is considered the national dance of Puerto Ricans. Dominican and Puerto Ricans also have foods that are particular to each Island. Popular Dominican dishes include Sancocho, a special stew made of various vegetables, meat and savory home grown seasonings. Platanos are popular in both Islands, however, Dominicans include platanos in almost all meals and created a special dish called "mangu" often eaten for breakfast by Dominicans. Puerto Ricans are famous for making rice and beans with chicken, and on special occasions the "Lech on" roasted pork is a popular tradition. While in the Dominican Republic as well as Puerto Rico there is freedom of worship, the statistics according to the Diocese in Puerto Rico in 2002 shows 75% of the people chose catholic to be their religious choice, while in the Dominican Republic 95%.
The majority of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans share similar religious preferences and both islands consider Catholic the official religion of the islands. In conclusion, although it may appear difficult at a glance to tell the difference between Puerto Ricans and Dominicans it can immediately become apparent which culture a Hispanic person is from if you pay attention to the Spanish dialogue spoken, the music, the foods and traditions distinct to each Island. Nevertheless, both Islands have produced music heavily influenced by the African and European ancestors. Puerto Ricans and Dominicans both share a love of family and in the United States are more likely to live in a household consisting of at least five persons. Many traditions are similar as a result of the heavy influence of the Catholic religion in both countries. An example is the importance and respect given to the "compares" (godparents for the baptism of the child) in both Dominican and Puerto Rican culture.
Finally, it would be a loss if people just stereotyped the people of both countries because they would fail to see the beauty, traditions and influence distinct to each Island. LIST OF
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