United States Dollar
- Total9,104 km2
3,515 sq mi
| San Juan18°27?N 66°6?W? / ?18.450°N 66.100°W? / 18.450; -66.100|
- 2012 estimate3,667,084
| Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Old San Juan, San Juan National Historic Site, Camuy River Cave Park, Cathedral of San Juan Bautista|
San Juan, Fajardo, El Yunque National Forest, Rincon, Rio Grande
Puerto Rico ( or ), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: , , literally the Free Associated State of Puerto Rico), is a United States territory located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic, and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
Puerto Rico is an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands, the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. The main island of Puerto Rico is, by land area, the smallest of the Greater Antilles. With around 3.5 million people, it ranks third in population among that group of four islands, which include Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and Jamaica. The capital and largest city is San Juan. Due to its location, Puerto Rico has a tropical climate with warm weather year-round and does not observe daylight saving time. Its official languages are Spanish, which is prevalent, and English.
Originally populated for centuries by aboriginal people known as Taino, the island was claimed by Christopher Columbus for Spain during his second voyage to the Americas on November 19, 1493. Like Cuba, Puerto Rico remained a Spanish colony until 1898. Despite the Laws of Burgos of 1512 and other decrees for the protection of Indians, some Taino people were forced into slavery in the early years of colonization. The population suffered extremely high fatalities from epidemics of European infectious diseases.
During the four centuries of Spanish rule, the islands culture and physical landscape were transformed. European knowledge, customs and traditions were introduced, namely Roman Catholicism, the Spanish language, and advances such as agriculture, construction in stone, and the printing press. Numerous public buildings, forts, churches and public infrastructure built during Spanish rule are still standing to this day, forming an indelible part of the islands cultural heritage.
Regular convoys of the West Indies Fleet linked the island to Spain, sailing from Cadiz to the Spanish West Indies every year. From the start of Puerto Ricos colonization by Spain in 1508, its inhabitants were Spanish citizens, and it remained Spanish territory despite invasion attempts by the French, Dutch, and the British. On November 25, 1897, Spain granted limited self-government to the island by royal decree in the Autonomic Charter, including a bicameral legislature. But in 1898, Spain ceded its control of the island to United States following the Spanish–American War, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.
Today, people born in Puerto Rico are natural-born U.S. citizens. The territory operates under a local constitution, and Puerto Ricans elect their own governor. However, Puerto Rico lacks voting members in Congress and is subject to the plenary jurisdiction of the United States under the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act of 1950. As of 2015, Puerto Rico remains a U.S. territory, although a 2012 referendum showed a majority (54% of the electorate) in favor of a change in status, with full statehood the preferred option.
The ancient history of the archipelago known today as Puerto Rico is not well known. Unlike other larger, more advanced indigenous communities in the New World (Aztec and Inca) whose people left behind abundant archeological and physical evidence of their societies, the indigenous population of Puerto Rico left scant artifacts and evidence. The scarce archaeological findings and early Spanish scholarly accounts from the colonial era constitute the basis of knowledge about them. The first comprehensive book on the history of Puerto Rico was written by Fray Inigo Abbad y Lasierra in 1786, almost three centuries after the first Spaniards arrived on the island.
The first settlers were the Ortoiroid people, an Archaic Period culture of Amerindian hunters and fishermen who migrated from the South American mainland. Some scholars suggest that their settlement dates back 4000 years. An archeological dig at the island of Vieques in 1990 found the remains of a man, named the "Puerto Ferro Man", which was dated to around 2000 BC. The Ortoiroid were displaced by the Saladoid, a culture from the same region that arrived on the island between 430 and 250 BC.
The Igneri, a tribe from the region of the Orinoco river in northern South America, migrated to the island between 120 and 400 AD. The Arcaico and Igneri co-existed on the island between the 4th and 10th centuries, and perhaps clashed.
Between the 7th and 11th centuries, the Taino culture developed on the island; by approximately 1000 AD, it had become dominant. At the time of Columbus arrival, an estimated 30,000 to 60,000 Taino Amerindians, led by the cacique (chief) Agueybana, inhabited the island. They called it Boriken, meaning "the great land of the valiant and noble Lord." The natives lived in small villages, each led by a cacique. They subsisted by hunting and fishing, done generally by men, as well as by the womens gathering and processing of indigenous cassava root and fruit. This lasted until Columbus arrived in 1493.
Puerto Rico consists of the main island of Puerto Rico and various smaller islands, including Vieques, Culebra, Mona, Desecheo, and Caja de Muertos. Of these last five, only Culebra and Vieques are inhabited year-round. Mona is uninhabited most of the year except for employees of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources. There are also many other smaller islands, including Monito and "La Isleta de San Juan," which includes Old San Juan and Puerta de Tierra, and is connected to the main island by bridges.
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has an area of 13,790 square kilometers (5,320 sq mi), of which 8,870 km2 (3,420 sq mi) is land and 4,921 km2 (1,900 sq mi) is water. The maximum length of the main island from east to west is 180 km (110 mi), and the maximum width from north to south is 65 km (40 mi). Puerto Rico is the smallest of the Greater Antilles. It is 80% of the size of Jamaica, just over 18% of the size of Hispaniola and 8% of the size of Cuba, the largest of the Greater Antilles.
The island is mostly mountainous with large coastal areas in the north and south. The main mountain range is called "La Cordillera Central" (The Central Range). The highest elevation in Puerto Rico, Cerro de Punta 1,339 meters (4,393 ft), is located in this range.
Another important peak is El Yunque, one of the highest in the Sierra de Luquillo at the El Yunque National Forest, with an elevation of 1,065 m (3,494 ft).
Puerto Rico has 17 lakes, all man-made, and more than 50 rivers, most originating in the Cordillera Central. Rivers in the northern region of the island are typically longer and of higher water flow rates than those of the south, since the south receives less rain than the central and northern regions.
Puerto Rico is composed of Cretaceous to Eocene volcanic and plutonic rocks, overlain by younger Oligocene and more recent carbonates and other sedimentary rocks. Most of the caverns and karst topography on the island occurs in the northern region in the carbonates. The oldest rocks are approximately 190 million years old (Jurassic) and are located at Sierra Bermeja in the southwest part of the island. They may represent part of the oceanic crust and are believed to come from the Pacific Ocean realm.
Puerto Rico lies at the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates and is being deformed by the tectonic stresses caused by their interaction. These stresses may cause earthquakes and tsunamis. These seismic events, along with landslides, represent some of the most dangerous geologic hazards in the island and in the northeastern Caribbean.
The most recent major earthquake occurred on October 11, 1918, and had an estimated magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale. It originated off the coast of Aguadilla, several kilometers off the northern coast, and was accompanied by a tsunami. It caused extensive property damage and widespread losses, damaging infrastructure, especially bridges. It resulted in an estimated 116 deaths and $4 million in property damage. The failure of the government to move rapidly to provide for the general welfare contributed to political activism by opponents and eventually to the rise of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party.
The Puerto Rico Trench, the largest and deepest trench in the Atlantic, is located about 115 km (71 mi) north of Puerto Rico at the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates. It is 280 km (170 mi) long. At its deepest point, named the Milwaukee Deep, it is almost 8,400 m (27,600 ft) deep.
The economy of Puerto Rico is classified as a high income economy by the World Bank and as the most competitive economy in Latin America by the World Economic Forum. According to World Bank, gross national income per capita of Puerto Rico in 2013 is $23,830 (PPP,International Dollars), ranked as 63rd among all sovereign entities in the world. Its economy is mainly driven by manufacturing (primarily pharmaceuticals, textiles, petrochemicals and electronics) followed by the service industry (primarily finance, insurance, real estate and tourism. The geography of Puerto Rico and its political status are both determining factors on its economic prosperity, primarily due to its relatively small size as an island; its lack of natural resources used to produce raw materials, and, consequently, its dependence on imports; as well as its suzerainty to the United States which controls its foreign affairs while exerting trading restrictions, particularly in its shipping industry.
Modern Puerto Rican culture is a unique mix of cultural antecedents: including Taino (Amerindians), Spanish, African, European and, more recently, North American.
From the Spanish, Puerto Rico received the Spanish language, the Catholic religion and the vast majority of their cultural and moral values and traditions. The United States added English language influence, the university system and the adoption of some holidays and practices. On March 12, 1903, the University of Puerto Rico was officially founded, branching out from the "Escuela Normal Industrial", a smaller organism that was founded in Fajardo three years before.
Much of Puerto Rican culture centers on the influence of music and has been shaped by other cultures combining with local and traditional rhythms. Early in the history of Puerto Rican music, the influences of Spanish and African traditions were most noticeable. The cultural movements across the Caribbean and North America have played a vital role in the more recent musical influences that have reached Puerto Rico.
The official symbols of Puerto Rico are the Reinita mora or Puerto Rican Spindalis (a type of bird), the Flor de Maga (a type of flower), and the Ceiba or Kapok (a type of tree). The unofficial animal and a symbol of Puerto Rican pride is the Coqui, a small frog. Other popular symbols of Puerto Rico are the jibaro (the "countryman"), and the carite.
Lowcountry cuisine is the cooking traditionally associated with the South Carolina Lowcountry and the Georgia coast. While it shares features with Southern cooking, its geography, economics, demographics, and culture pushed its culinary identity in a different direction from regions above the fall line. With its rich diversity of seafood from the coastal estuaries, its concentration of wealth in Charleston and Savannah, and a vibrant Caribbean cuisine and African cuisine influence, Lowcountry cooking has strong parallels with New Orleans and Cajun cuisine.
Puerto Rican cuisine has its roots in the cooking traditions and practices of Europe (Spain), Africa and the native Tainos. In the latter part of the 19th century, the cuisine of Puerto Rico was greatly influenced by the United States in the ingredients used in its preparation. Puerto Rican cuisine has transcended the boundaries of the island, and can be found in several countries outside the archipelago. Basic ingredients include grains and legumes, herbs and spices, starchy tropical tubers, vegetables, meat and poultry, seafood and shellfish, and fruits. Main dishes include mofongo, arroz con gandules, pasteles, and pig roast. Beverages include mavi and pina colada. Desserts include arroz con dulce (sweet rice pudding), piraguas, brazo gitanos, tembleque, polvorones, and dulce de leche.
Locals call their cuisine cocina criolla. The traditional Puerto Rican cuisine was well established by the end of the nineteenth century. By 1848 the first restaurant, La Mallorquina, opened in Old San Juan. El Cocinero Puertorriqueno, the islands first cookbook was published in 1849.
From the diet of the Taino people come many tropical roots and tubers like yautia (taro) and especially Yuca (cassava), from which thin cracker-like casabe bread is made. Ajicito or cachucha pepper, a slightly hot habanero pepper, recao/culantro (spiny leaf), achiote (annatto), peppers, aji caballero (the hottest pepper native to Puerto Rico), peanuts, guavas, pineapples, jicacos (cocoplum), quenepas (mamoncillo), lerenes (Guinea arrowroot), calabazas (tropical pumpkins), and guanabanas (soursops) are all Taino foods. The Tainos also grew varieties of beans and some maiz (corn/maize), but maiz was not as dominant in their cooking as it was for the peoples living on the mainland of Mesoamerica. This is due to the frequent hurricanes that Puerto Rico experiences, which destroy crops of maiz, leaving more safeguarded plants like conucos (hills of yuca grown together).
Spanish / European influence is also seen in Puerto Rican cuisine. Wheat, chickpeas (garbanzos), capers, olives, olive oil, black pepper, onions, garlic, cilantrillo (cilantro), oregano, basil, sugarcane, citrus fruit, eggplant, ham, lard, chicken, beef, pork, and cheese all came to Boriken (Puerto Ricos native Taino name) from Spain. The tradition of cooking complex stews and rice dishes in pots such as rice and beans are also thought to be originally European (much like Italians, Spaniards, and the British). Early Dutch, French, Italian, and Chinese immigrants influenced not only the culture but Puerto Rican cooking as well. This great variety of traditions came together to form La Cocina Criolla.
Coconuts, coffee (brought by the Arabs and Corsos to Yauco from Kafa, Ethiopia), okra, yams, sesame seeds, gandules (pigeon peas in English) sweet bananas, plantains, other root vegetables and Guinea hen, all come to Puerto Rico from Africa.
Puerto Rico has been commemorated on four U.S. postal stamps and four personalities have been featured. Insular Territories were commemorated in 1937, the third stamp honored Puerto Rico featuring La Fortaleza, the Spanish Governors Palace. The first free election for governor of the US territory of Puerto Rico was honored on April 27, 1949, at San Juan, Puerto Rico. Inauguration on the 3-cent stamp refers to the election of Luis Munoz Marin, the first democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico. San Juan, Puerto Rico was commemorated with an 8-cent stamp on its 450th anniversary issued September 12, 1971, featuring a sentry box from Castillo San Felipe del Morro. In the "Flags of our nation series" 2008-2012, of the fifty-five, five territorial flags were featured. Forever stamps included the Puerto Rico Flag illustrated by a bird issued 2011.
Four Puerto Rican personalities have been featured on U.S. postage stamps. These include Roberto Clemente in 1984 as an individual and in the Legends of Baseball series issued in 2000., Luis Munoz Marin in the Great Americans series, on February 18, 1990., Julia de Burgos in the Literary Arts series, issued 2010., and Jose Ferrer in the Distinguished American series, issued 2012.