Merengue is the most popular dance and the favourite type of music in the Dominican Republic. It is played everywhere, and even young children know how to dance merengue steps. The music is performed by three-person, roaming bands called perico ripiao using three instruments: a small drum called a tambora, an accordion-like instrument called a melodeon, and a percussion instrument originally used by the Tainos called a guira.
Modern merengue emerged after the First World War, when the music was played by pianos, strings, clarinets and saxophones. In the 1970s, Johnny Ventura and other musicians developed a new sound with electronic instruments. Dance steps became faster and less formal. Nowadays, merengue incorporates other musical forms such as salsa and jazz. Juan Luis Guerra is perhaps the most internationally renowned merengue performer.
  Did you know?
Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta was born in 1936 in Santo Domingo. He maintains a home on the island
The Dominican Republic has a strong literary tradition. Early Spanish colonizers brought with them the European romantic literary tradition. In the 19th century, Dominicans strove to create a distinct form of writing that was free of Spanish influences. During this period, Manuel de Jesus Galvan (1834-1911) published the classic Dominican novel, Enriquillo. The novel portrayed the last of the Indian chiefs to rebel against the Spanish conquerors. It was translated into English as The Cross and the Sword.

 In the 20th century, Dominican writers continued to incorporate political commentary in their work. Many of them went into exile during Trujillo's regime. Both Juan Bosch and Joaquin Balaguer were important writers. Bosch wrote novels, essays and short stories. Balaguer was a poet who also wrote a history of literature in the Dominican Republic.

Hand-crafted jewellery is made with amber and larimar. Many people consider Dominican amber the most beautiful in the world. It may contain flashes of green, red, orange, blue and purple. Larimar is a stone that can be found only in the Dominican Republic. Its colours vary from deep sky blue to blue-green.
  Did you know?
There are two main types of merengue. In ballroom merengue (merengue de salón), the dancers hold each other in latin dance position and never separate. In figure merengue (merengue de figura), the dancers make turns individually while holding hands.