Professor: Valerie Quackenbush
November 14, 2010
Dominican Republic is a beautiful place. It is located near Central America, is nation on the island of Hispaniola. It borders Haiti. It is the second biggest country on the Carrabian Island, after Cuba. The whole country measures the area of 48442 km2. Its capital is Santo Domingo and is in the south coast of Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is also made up of many islands. There are four rivers in Dominican Republic. Yaque del Norte is the longest, most important Dominican river. There are also many lakes. The largest is called Enriquillo. The Dominican Republic has a tropical climate, with more local variations in temperature than seasonal ones, and with seasonal variability in the abundance of rainfall. The average annual temperature is 25° C, ranging from 18° C at an altitude of over 1,200 meters to 28° C at an altitude of 10 meters. Highs of 40° C are common in protected valleys, as are lows of zero in mountainous areas. August is the hottest month, and January and February are the coldest ones. The rainy season lasts from November through January. In the rest of the country, it runs from May through November; May is the wettest month. The dry season lasts from November through April; March is the driest month. The Dominican carnival is a tradition that is celebrated on February called Independence day which is Feb. 27 People dress in costumes, there's music, and dancing mostly just celebrations. Christmas time is one of the most celebrated holidays there. However, they don't trade gifts until January 6 which is Three King's Day. In the 1980s, immigration to the United States from the Dominican Republic rose to unprecedented levels. The number of Dominicans legally entering the United States between 1981 and 1990 was far greater than the number of Cubans: indeed, more Dominicans entered the United States in the last decade than any other Western Hemisphere national group except migrants from Mexico (Ruben G. Rumbaut) Despite these numbers, however, Dominican immigrants have been relatively unstudied. Systematic research on the Dominican population in the United States is scarce, and newspaper and magazine coverage is sparse compared to the coverage received by other Caribbean immigrant groups (e.g., Cubans and Haitians). Those studies that do exist rely on data from the 1980 census or from studies conducted in the early or mid-1980s. Thus, up to-date, accurate, and complete information on Dominicans in the United States is difficult to find. As the raw data from the 1990 census is analyzed and studied, more work on this important immigrant group will result. Most Dominicans in the United States arrived after 1960. Of the 169,147 Dominican-born persons resident in the United States at the time of the 1980 census, only 6.1 percent had come to the United States before 1960. More than a third came during the decade of political instability in the Dominican Republic—the 1960s—and the remaining 56 percent arrived in the 1970s. During the 1980s, however, Dominican immigration soared. In those ten years, more than 250,000 Dominicans were legally admitted to the United States. The number of new immigrants in that ten-year period was 50 percent greater than the entire Dominican-born population of the United States at the start of the decade. The 1990 U.S. Census reported that of the 506,000 persons of Dominican descent in the United States, the vast majority were Dominican-born. Thus the Dominican American community is primarily an immigrant community and, indeed, a community of recent immigrants. One scholar writing in 1986 suggested that there were at that time some 300,000 undocumented Dominicans in the United States (John A. Garcia, "Caribbean Migration to the Mainland: A Review of Adaptive Experiences," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science”, Volume 487, 1986, p. 119). Although that number seems high given the statistics collected by the Census Bureau in 1990, it does suggest the significance of undocumented migrants in the Dominican community in the United States. A number of Dominican migrants also return to the Dominican Republic either to visit or to resettle permanently. Again, no recent or reliable statistics show exactly how many Dominicans have returned to the Caribbean or for how long. Other indicators, however, suggest that the return movement is significant. For example, the Tourism Secretariat in the Dominican Republic reported in 1985 that 20 percent of all visitors to the island from abroad were Dominicans who had previously emigrated. Moreover, businesses in the Caribbean nation that serve the returned migrant community, and schools, apartment buildings, and discos have been opened especially for returned migrants. Many returned migrants, as well as those living overseas have invested heavily in their country of origin, establishing real estate brokerages and grocery stores, among other businesses, on the island. Even those who do not start businesses contribute vitally to the economic life of the Dominican Republic. Remittances, monies sent back to family members still resident on the island, bring more foreign currency into the Dominican economy than any industry except tourism. It is clear from these examples that Dominicans in the United States maintain a strong interest in their country of origin. Puerto Rico is also a principal destination of Dominicans leaving the Dominican Republic. Many Dominicans find employment in this Caribbean territory of the United States, primarily in the service sector (Maria del Carmen Baerga and Lanny Thompson, "Migration in a Small Semiperiphery: The Movement of Puerto Ricans and Dominicans," International Migration Review, Volume 24, No. 4, 1990, pp. 671-677). Many others use Puerto Rico as a stepping stone to the mainland United States. Dominicans maintain a significant presence in Puerto Rico and should be considered a small but important stream in the movement of Dominicans to the United States.
The causes of the Dominican immigration are various and have changed over time. As suggested above, the first significant immigration from the Dominican Republic to the United States was in large part the product of political and social instability at home. Those who opposed or had reason to fear the new regime in 1965 and those who were fleeing violence throughout the 1960s came to the United States in notable numbers. As time went on, however, and the political situation stabilized, Dominicans continued to emigrate, because of limited employment opportunities and poor economic conditions. Studies have shown that those who emigrate are better educated than those they left on the island and were more likely to have been employed when they left the Dominican Republic. These urban, often professional migrants left the Caribbean to find better opportunities elsewhere (Sherri Grasmuck, "Immigration, Ethnic Stratification, and Native Working Class Discipline: Comparisons of Documented and Undocumented Dominicans," International Migration Review, Volume 18, No. 3, 1984, p. 695).