The original inhabitants, the Arowak or Tainos and Caribe indians, were stamped out by the Spanish by the early 16th century through killings, malnutrition and disease. Little vestige of them remains.
The current population of the Dominican Republic is about seven and a half million, roughly 73 percent of whom are mulatto, 16 percent white and 11 percent black in 1989 (Haggerty, 1991, p. xxviii). The great majority of the whites came from Spain with minor infusions of French, English, Jews from Europe, Italians, Lebanese and other Arabs, Chinese and Japanese and, more recently, North Americans (Wiarda, 1969, p. 74). The blacks came directly or indirectly from Africa as slaves. All of these groups have blended into Dominican society through intermarriage and blood, creating a blend which Dominicans call sancocho, a local dish with many ingredients. The largest unassimilated minority is the creole and black Haitians who inhabit the area along the border with Haiti, make up most of the sugar cane cutters and/or are crowded into the shanty towns of the major cities of Santo Domingo (the capital) and Santiago de los Caballeros. They totalled in 1989 about 200,000 (Haggerty, 1991, p. 52).
The Dominican Republic has, therefore, been fortunate in not having large unassimilated minorities. Spanish is the common language. More than 90 percent of Dominicans share a common religion, Roman Catholicism.