Oct 5, 2009

Soule Restaurant's Spotlight on the Dominican Republic

Christopher Columbus arrived in Quisqueya, (the original Taino name for the Dominican Republic) in 1492. He cultivated sugar plantations, and enslaved the native Tainos for labor. This decimated their population, and he subsequently imported Africans to work the island’s plantations.

The country’s history is turbulent, with control frequently changing between the Spanish, Haitian and the U.S. Today, they are an independent democracy that spans two thirds of an island shared with Haiti. Their ethnic composition is 73% mixed, 16% European, and 11% African; Spanish is the national language.

In 1866, U.S. troops stationed in Cuba taught the natives the rules of baseball. Cuban refugees bought the sport to the Dominican Republic where it became a national passion. Today, the MLB boasts many great athletes from the island.

The Dominican Republic is also a great provider of cigars. Although Cuban cigars are more recognized, the Dominican Republic is known globally by connoisseurs as Cigar Country due to the superior quality of their cigars.

Larimar is a stone unique to the Dominican Republic. It is cultivated from volcanic rock, and is frequently paired with amber, the country’s most popular gem that is actually a fossil; tree sap that has hardened after millions of years. These two gems are used to make beautiful jewelry that is distinctive to the island.

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