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Friday, 19 May 2017

Puerto Rico

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico includes the largest, main island and a number of smaller islands, including Mona, Vieques, and Culebra. Of those three smaller islands, only Culebra and Vieques are populated all year.

The history of Puerto Rico began when the Ortoiroid people started living in the island between 3000 and 2000 BC.

The Igneri tribe migrated to Puerto Rico between 120 and 400 AD from the region of the Orinoco river in northern South America and lived there between the 4th and 10th centuries co-existing with the Saladoid and Arawak Indians and later the Taino people.

By approximately 1000 AD, the Taino people had become dominant. At the time of Columbus' arrival, an estimated 30,000 to 60,000 Taíno Amerindians, led by the cacique (chief) Agüeybaná, inhabited the island. They called it Borikén (Borinquen in Spanish transliteration).

A reconstructed Taíno Village at the Tibes Ceremonial Center

Christopher Columbus first sighted the island now known as Puerto Rico on November 18, 1493 and the following day (November 19) he went ashore named it San Juan Bautista (in honor of St John the Baptist).

Juan Ponce de León, a lieutenant under Columbus, founded the first Spanish settlement, Caparra, on August 8, 1508. Caparra was abandoned in 1521, but it represents the oldest known European settlement on United States territory.

De León later served as the first governor of the island.  Eventually, traders and other maritime visitors came to refer to the entire island as Puerto Rico (meaning "rich port" in Spanish) and San Juan became the name of ITS main trading/shipping port.

Catholicism was brought by Spanish colonists and gradually became the dominant religion in Puerto Rico. The first dioceses in the Americas, including that of Puerto Rico, were authorized by Pope Julius II in 1511.

The first educational establishment in Puerto Rico was the Escuela de Gramática (Grammar School). It was established by Bishop Alonso Manso in 1513, in the area where the Cathedral of San Juan was to be constructed. The school was free of charge and the courses taught were art, history, Latin, literature, philosophy, science and theology.

Puerto Rico formed an important part of the Spanish Empire from the early years of the exploration, conquest, and colonization of the New World.

The island was a major military post during many wars between Spain and other European countries for control of the region between the 16th and 18th centuries.

Puerto Ricon nationalist Ramón Emeterio Betances led the Grito de Lares, a revolt against Spanish rule on the island. The short-lived insurrection began on September 23, 1868, in the town of Lares, for which it is named, and spread rapidly to various revolutionary cells throughout Puerto Rico.

Dr Betances

Although the revolt failed to achieve its main objective, the Spanish government granted more political autonomy to the island.. Since the Grito galvanized a burgeoning nationalist movement among Puerto Ricans, Betances is considered "El Padre de la Patria" (Father of the [Puerto Rican] Nation).

The first Protestant church, Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad, was established in Ponce by the Anglican Diocese of Antigua in 1872. It was the first non-Roman Catholic Church in the entire Spanish Empire in the Americas.

In 1898, during the Spanish-American war, Puerto Rico was invaded by U.S. forces. The United States took possession of the island and on October 18, 1898 American troops raised their country's flag over the Caribbean nation.

General Nelson Miles and other soldiers on horseback Puerto Rico July 1898

The Spanish–American War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, which was signed on December 10, 1898. Its clauses included Spain ceding Puerto Rico to the United States.

The Treaty of Paris came into effect on April 11, 1899, when the documents of ratification were exchanged. For the next 53 years, it became a felony to display the Puerto Rican Flag.

El Yunque National Forest, is located on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo mountains,  in northeastern Puerto Rico. Established on January 17, 1903, it is the only tropical rain forest in the United States National Forest System and is the largest block of public land in Puerto Rico.

Photo of El Yunque from the east, Puerto Rico. By Stan Shebs

President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act on March 2, 1917, granting Puerto Rican people United States citizenship.

On October 30, 1950, the US government bombed Puerto Rico to suppress nationalist feelings to become independent.

Puerto Rico became a self-governing commonwealth of the United States on July 25, 1952. This means it is an organised, self-governing territory with locally elected governors and legislatures. Puerto Rico elects a Resident Commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives.

On May 3, 2017, Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy after a massive debt and weak economy. It was the largest local government bankruptcy case in American history.


According to the 2010 US Census, 99% of the population consider themselves of Puerto Rican descent (regardless of race or skin color), making Puerto Rico one of the most culturally unified societies in the world.

The population of Puerto Rico was 3,474,182 on July 1, 2015, a 6.75% decrease since the 2010 United States Census.

Puerto Rico is 75.8% White, higher than the mainland USA.

The most populous Puerto Rico city is its capital, San Juan, with approximately 371,400 people.

Reggaeton is a musical genre which originated in Puerto Rico during the late 1990s. It blends British West reggae and dancehall with Latin American genres, as well as hip hop. Popular Puerto Rican reggaeton stars include Daddy Yankee, Nicky Jam and Wisin and Yandel.

The island's most recognizable endemic species and a symbol of Puerto Rican pride is the coquí, a small frog easily identified by the sound of its call, from which it gets its name.

Common Coquí

The Piña Colada is the national drink of Puerto Rico and National Piña Colada Day is celebrated on the islands on July 10th every year.

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