4 Main Cultural Differences Between the Dominican Republic and the United States

Dominican Republic Life and Culture
/ / 4 Main Cultural Differences Between the Dominican Republic and the United States

I must admit that this will be a very subjective topic as it is largely based on my point of view, although it has a lot of validity due to my decades of experience living in the Dominican Republic and my close contact with the U.S. culture.

I have always found the culture of the United States fascinating, and in comparison with the Dominican Culture, in spite of having certain similarities in some aspects, there is a great contrast. 

This will be the topic that I would like to discuss, about the existing contrasts between the culture of the Dominican Republic and the culture of the United States. In particular, on the most notable differences between the two cultures.

But focusing mostly on the Dominican cultural side (so that U.S. readers can better understand).

Needless to say, the United States is a “rich” country and the Dominican Republic is “not so rich”, so culturally the most notable and important differences are rooted in socio-economic factors that influence the behavior of the citizens of these countries.

Also, keep in mind that the United States is a confederation of states as the name implies, and each state may have different cultural aspects, just as the Dominican Republic contains a super diverse culture.

For the purposes of this topic we will take a “middle ground” of the common population of both countries.


1-About the food

Food is always the most relevant cultural aspect when comparing cultures, especially when making travel decisions.

Dominican food especially, not that it is so super-diverse compared to other cultures, rice is the staple of everyday Dominican food.

It is so much rice that we consume that we almost look like Orientals, rice is mostly accompanied by beans, meat and salad, this combination makes up what is known as the typical Dominican dish.

The issue with this is that Dominican food can be quite spicy, very tasty, but so much spice could fall heavy on the stomach of many people from the United States.

The other thing is, if a U.S. person wanted to try Dominican street food, they would most likely get sick.

A doctor friend of mine once told me that Dominicans’ stomachs are already “cured” from eating the street food here.

In fact, when I was a Dominican baseball fan, I realized something, for the tournament they always bring every year players from the United States and the main reason why these players left the country early, was because of stomach problems.

For the record, I am referring to Dominican street food, otherwise, the food in the Dominican Republic is exquisite.

Besides, you can find fast-food restaurants on any street corner, the same fast-food restaurant you find in the United States, so the food here would not be a problem.

2-The "Dominican Time"

In the Dominican Republic, if you need to meet someone at, say, 3:00 p.m., you have to meet them at 2:00 p.m., this is called “la hora Dominicana” (Dominican time).

Maybe the previous example is sarcasm, but I really know many people who do this, here in the Dominican Republic there is a bad reputation of unpunctuality, maybe it is due to the more relaxed and uncomplicated lifestyle that people lead.

Obviously, not everyone is like that, but as I said at the beginning I was going to take the average of the population, and although I obviously don’t have statistical data, no one will argue with the reputation of unpunctuality in the Dominican Republic.

Contrary to the United States, where time is valued more because most people live a life that is too fast, business, meetings, work, everything is fast.

In addition, people from the United States who come on vacation to the Dominican Republic, often at a sacrifice, also value their time very highly.

3-Laws in the Dominican Republic

I’m not sure if the laws fall into the category of culture, but really the aspect of the laws of both countries is one of the most remarkable and outstanding.

I have heard, over and over again, that a Dominican citizen going to the United States behaves in a totally different way “they walk the straight line”.

This is because in the Dominican Republic laws are very easy to break without consequences, and therefore laws are broken frequently.

This is especially evident in urban traffic, if I start to dwell on this topic I would have to write a 10,000 word topic.

The laws in the Dominican Republic (when they exist) are extremely weak compared to the laws in the United States.

This is something that might really seem surprising to a person who does not reside in the Dominican Republic.

4-El "Tigueraje Dominicano""

This word might seem somewhat meaningless, but I would actually venture to say that it is the most fundamental aspect when it comes to differentiating the Dominican culture from any other culture in the world.

“Tigueraje” is derived from the word “Tigre”, this is like a denomination in the Dominicans that denotes a “cunning man, who gets what he wants through his mental ability”.

The traditional Dominican man is brave and hardworking, the word “tiguere” has acquired a somewhat negative connotation, because in reality the “tigueraje culture” includes many dishonest acts.

Such as cheating, and abusing the trust of others.

I really didn’t want to turn this topic into “something I wanted to get off my chest”, but to make a good topic and as real as possible about a cultural comparison, this is something I couldn’t leave out.

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