Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. Locals are United States citizens. The currency is the US dollar. Spanish and English are the official languages. San Juan is the Capital of Puerto Rico. It is comprised of the main island as well of several smaller keys…..Vieques and Culebra on the East and Mona Island on the West. Its limits extend from the western boundary with the Dominican Republic and Haiti. It is separated from the two countries by the Mona Passage. Puerto Rico’s eastern limit is on the boundary with the Virginia Island. The Atlantic Ocean is to the north, while the Caribbean Sea is to the South. The Puerto Rico-US border is opened, allowing for free movement of merchandise and people. Puerto Rico is the smallest island in the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean, located east of the Dominican Republic. Weather is tropical. Temperatures between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. There are approx. 3.2M people in Puerto Rico and close to 1M Puerto Ricans living in the US. Puerto Rico covers a total area of approx. 5,320 sq miles (110 miles wide x 40 miles length).
Puerto Rico’s first inhabitants were the Taínos, a group of indigenous people that lived on the island for hundreds of years prior to the arrival of the Spanish. The Taínos were governed by Agüeybaná and called the island Borikén (Borinquen) – which means “Land of the Valiant and Noble Lord.”
Christopher Columbus arrived in Puerto Rico in 1493. Originally, Columbus christened the island as San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist), but the name was soon changed to Puerto Rico, or “rich port”, when the Spaniards realized the impressive amount of gold in found its rivers. When the capital city was established, it took the name of San Juan.
Under Spanish governance, the island developed an even more sophisticated agriculture system than what the Taínos had founded. Sugar cane, coffee, and tobacco were among the island’s major exports and, due to increasing demand for products along with the decreasing number of local inhabitants to work the land, Spain brought African slaves to Puerto Rico.
Given its location and richness, Puerto Rico became an important military outpost for Spain and was attacked by the Dutch, French, and English in a series of failed attempts to conquer the island. Forts and Castles like El Morro and San Cristóbal were originally built to protect the strategically significant island.
In the late 1800s, the desire for independence from the Spanish crown boiled over in Puerto Rico. While the Spanish soldiers quickly suppressed the rebellion in San Juan, outbursts and uprisings erupted throughout the Island, which led the Spanish crown to grant autonomy to the government on the Island. This change opened trade channels with other European colonies and the United States.
After the Spanish-American war ended in 1898, Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded to the United States as part of the terms of the Treaty of Paris, and Puerto Rico maintains its provincial status to this day.
With Puerto Rico’s colonial state came several changes – mainly in currency, government, and education – with civil rights and political status being decided by U.S Congress, a power it still holds more than a century later.
During the first three decades of its rule over Puerto Rico, the U.S. Congress approved a new Puerto Rican Constitution that made the Island an autonomous U.S. commonwealth (though that titles is currently debatable) the islanders retained full US citizenship.
Even after becoming a U.S. territory, Puerto Ricans take pride in preserving much of the island’s indigenous traditions.
What makes PUERTO RICO unique?
Puerto Rico is home to El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. Its unofficial mascot is a tiny tree frog found on the island and has a powerful melodic high-pitched, cheerful song can be heard for miles especial after it rains. More than 70% of the rum sold in U.S. comes from Puerto Rico. San Juan is the second largest cruise port in the western hemisphere. Two of the oldest churches in the Americas are in Old San Juan…Built in the 1530’s, the Church of San Jose, as well as the San Juan Cathedral. Puerto Rico has its own Galapagos Island with MONA Island, which is protected. Students from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico’s School of Engineering in Bayamón made history. They have designed and developed the first Puerto Rican satellite that NASA has launched into space. the satellite, known as the PR-CuNaR2 was launched into space at 3:37am on Saturday, August 28, 2021 from Cape Canaveral, Florida as part of Mission 23 of the Elon Musk SpaceX company.