What do you know about the Dominican Republic before the arrival of Christopher Columbus?

The Dominican Republic attracts us with its beaches and captures us with its history.

The day Christopher Columbus reached the Bahamian island of Guanahai, which he renamed El Salvador, the history of the world began to change; on that island, the famous Genoese navigator encountered an indigenous people, the Tainos, but as he believed he was in the Indies, he referred to them as Indians; Before returning to Spain after this first voyage, Columbus’ ships reached Cuba and the island now shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, an island he called Hispaniola; there the Taino-Arawak were waiting for him and there, on the Dominican side, your own discovery awaits you, the same one Columbus made but with more comforts, that of the Taino culture.

Today the Dominican Republic is a diverse country, a cradle of races and cultures, but it keeps very much alive its origin, its pre-Columbian roots which are those of the Taino culture; when Columbus arrived in the Dominican Republic there lived the Taino-Arawak, organized in multiple kingdoms, each of them governed by a chief, they coexisted in peace; each kingdom occupied a clearing within the island, not on the coast, and were organized around their chief who was actually a cacique and was the noblest representative of the tribe; next to him lived the nitaínos who were also considered noble because they were the warriors and mostly relatives of the cacique; the rest of the inhabitants of each kingdom were either behiques, religious representatives, or naborias, who worked the land.

The position of chief or cacique of each kingdom was hereditary and it was always a ruler who demanded obedience, in other words, he was something like a dictator; and as for their beliefs, they were polytheists, they believed in several gods and also in supernatural beings, Yocahú was the supreme divinity and the cemíes were the two supernatural beings who were worshipped, they were the progenitors of all the Tainos. Of course, not everything was going to be command and faith, the Tainos also enjoyed leisure activities such as dancing or playing ball games (batú) that were practiced by both men and women.

You will discover all this and much more on your next trip to the Dominican Republic if you follow our advice and visit places like the Museum of the Dominican Man in Santo Domingo or the Regional Archaeological Museum Altos de Chavón; we recommend that you enjoy these visits in the first days of your stay in the Dominican Republic, why? Because this way you will know how the Tainos that Columbus met lived, what they believed in, what they ate, how they had fun… and you can discover for yourself the traits of the Taino culture still present in Dominican society and in its gastronomy; a hint: the cassava cassava that you will taste in many typical Dominican dishes is one of those Taino traits that are still very much alive in the Dominican Republic today.

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