Puerto Rico


Puerto Rico
Puerto Rican.
/pwer"teuh ree"koh, pwer"toh, pawr"teuh, pohr"-/; Sp. /pwerdd"taw rddee"kaw/
an island in the central West Indies: a commonwealth associated with the U.S. 3,196,520; 3435 sq. mi. (8895 sq. km). Cap.: San Juan. Formerly (until 1932), Porto Rico. Abbr: P.R., PR

* * *

Puerto Rico

Introduction Puerto Rico
Background: Populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following Columbus' second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish- American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917 and popularly elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self-government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998 voters chose to retain commonwealth status. Geography Puerto Rico -
Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic
Geographic coordinates: 18 15 N, 66 30 W
Map references: Central America and the Caribbean
Area: total: 9,104 sq km water: 145 sq km land: 8,959 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 501 km
Maritime claims: exclusive economic zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: tropical marine, mild; little seasonal temperature variation
Terrain: mostly mountains, with coastal plain belt in north; mountains precipitous to sea on west coast; sandy beaches along most coastal areas
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m highest point: Cerro de Punta 1,338 m
Natural resources: some copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore oil
Land use: arable land: 3.72% permanent crops: 5.07% other: 91.21% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 400 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: periodic droughts; hurricanes Environment - current issues: erosion; occasional drought causing water shortages
Geography - note: important location along the Mona Passage - a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal; San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean; many small rivers and high central mountains ensure land is well watered; south coast relatively dry; fertile coastal plain belt in north People Puerto Rico
Population: 3,957,988 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.5% (male 476,726; female 453,782) 15-64 years: 65.8% (male 1,249,850; female 1,353,438) 65 years and over: 10.7% (male 180,053; female 244,139) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.51% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 15.04 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 7.82 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -2.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/ female total population: 0.93 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 9.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.96 years female: 80.66 years (2002 est.) male: 71.5 years
Total fertility rate: 1.9 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ 7,397 (1997)
AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens) adjective: Puerto Rican
Ethnic groups: white (mostly Spanish origin) 80.5%, black 8%, Amerindian 0.4%, Asian 0.2%, mixed and other 10.9%
Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%
Languages: Spanish, English
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 89% male: 90% female: 88% (1980 est.) Government Puerto Rico
Country name: conventional long form: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico conventional short form: Puerto Rico
Dependency status: commonwealth associated with the US
Government type: commonwealth
Capital: San Juan Administrative divisions: none (commonwealth associated with the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 78 municipalities (municipios, singular - municipio) at the second order; Adjuntas, Aguada, Aguadilla, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Anasco, Arecibo, Arroyo, Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Bayamon, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Camuy, Canovanas, Carolina, Catano, Cayey, Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Coamo, Comerio, Corozal, Culebra, Dorado, Fajardo, Florida, Guanica, Guayama, Guayanilla, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Hatillo, Hormigueros, Humacao, Isabela, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Juncos, Lajas, Lares, Las Marias, Las Piedras, Loiza, Luquillo, Manati, Maricao, Maunabo, Mayaguez, Moca, Morovis, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Penuelas, Ponce, Quebradillas, Rincon, Rio Grande, Sabana Grande, Salinas, San German, San Juan, San Lorenzo, San Sebastian, Santa Isabel, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Vieques, Villalba, Yabucoa, Yauco
Independence: none (commonwealth associated with the US)
National holiday: US Independence Day, 4 July (1776)
Constitution: ratified 3 March 1952; approved by US Congress 3 July 1952; effective 25 July 1952
Legal system: based on Spanish civil code and adapted US state laws
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal; indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
Executive branch: chief of state: President George W. BUSH of the US (since 20 January 2001); Vice President Richard B. CHENEY (since 20 January 2001) election results: Sila M. CALDERON (PPD) elected governor; percent of vote - 48.6% note: residents of Puerto Rico do not vote for US president and vice president elections: US president and vice president elected on the same ticket for four-year terms; governor elected by popular vote for a four- year term; election last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held 2 November 2004) head of government: Governor Sila M. CALDERON (since 2 January 2001) cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor with the consent of the legislature
Legislative branch: bicameral Legislative Assembly consists of the Senate (28 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives (51 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PPD 19, PNP 8, PIP 1, other 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PPD 30, PNP 20, PIP 1 note: Puerto Rico elects, by popular vote, a resident commissioner to serve a four-year term as a nonvoting representative in the US House of Representatives; aside from not voting on the House floor, he enjoys all the rights of a member of Congress; elections last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held 2 November 2004); results - percent of vote by party - PPD 49.3%; seats by party - PPD 1; Anibal ACEVEDO-VILA elected resident commissioner elections: Senate - last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held 2 November 2004); House of Representatives - last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held 2 November 2004)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Appellate Court; Court of First Instance composed of two sections: a Superior Court and a Municipal Court (justices for all these courts appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate) Political parties and leaders: National Democratic Party [Celeste BENITEZ]; National Republican Party of Puerto Rico [Luis FERRE]; New Progressive Party or PNP (pro-US statehood) [Carlos PESQUERA]; Popular Democratic Party or PPD (pro-commonwealth) [Sila M. CALDERON]; Puerto Rican Independence Party or PIP (pro-independence) [Ruben BERRIOS Martinez] Political pressure groups and Armed Forces for National Liberation
leaders: or FALN; Armed Forces of Popular Resistance; Boricua Popular Army (also known as the Macheteros); Volunteers of the Puerto Rican Revolution International organization Caricom (observer), ECLAC
participation: (associate), FAO (associate), ICFTU, Interpol (subbureau), IOC, WCL, WFTU, WHO (associate) Diplomatic representation in the US: none (commonwealth associated with the US) Diplomatic representation from the none (commonwealth associated with
US: the US)
Flag description: five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center; design initially influenced by the US flag, but similar to the Cuban flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed Economy Puerto Rico -
Economy - overview: Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. A diverse industrial sector has surpassed agriculture as the primary locus of economic activity and income. Encouraged by duty-free access to the US and by tax incentives, US firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. US minimum wage laws apply. Sugar production has lost out to dairy production and other livestock products as the main source of income in the agricultural sector. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income, with estimated arrivals of nearly 5 million tourists in 1999. Growth fell off in 2001, largely due to the slowdown in the US economy.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $43.9 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.2% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $11,200 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 1% industry: 45% services: 54% (1999 est.) Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5.7% (2000 est.)
Labor force: 1.3 million (2000) Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 3%, industry 20%, services 77% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate: 9.5% (2000)
Budget: revenues: $6.7 billion expenditures: $9.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY99/00)
Industries: pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products; tourism Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 20.497 billion kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 99.22% hydro: 0.78% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 19.062 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: sugarcane, coffee, pineapples, plantains, bananas; livestock products, chickens
Exports: $38.5 billion (f.o.b., 2000)
Exports - commodities: pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates, medical equipment
Exports - partners: US 88% (2000)
Imports: $27 billion (c.i.f., 2000)
Imports - commodities: chemicals, machinery and equipment, clothing, food, fish, petroleum products
Imports - partners: US 60% (2000)
Debt - external: $NA Economic aid - recipient: $NA
Currency: US dollar (USD)
Currency code: USD
Exchange rates: the US dollar is used
Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June Communications Puerto Rico Telephones - main lines in use: 1.322 million (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 169,265 (1996)
Telephone system: general assessment: modern system, integrated with that of the US by high-capacity submarine cable and Intelsat with high-speed data capability domestic: digital telephone system; cellular telephone service international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat; submarine cable to US Radio broadcast stations: AM 72, FM 17, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 2.7 million (1997) Television broadcast stations: 18 (plus three stations of the US Armed Forces Radio and Television Service) (1997)
Televisions: 1.021 million (1997)
Internet country code: .pr Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 76 (2000)
Internet users: 200,000 (2000) Transportation Puerto Rico
Railways: total: 96 km narrow gauge: 96 km 1.000-m gauge, note: rural, narrow-gauge system for hauling sugarcane; no passenger service (2001)
Highways: total: 14,400 km paved: 14,400 km unpaved: 0 km (1996)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Guanica, Guayanilla, Guayama, Playa de Ponce, San Juan
Merchant marine: total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 19,046 GRT/22,582 DWT ships by type: container 1 (2002 est.)
Airports: 30 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 19 over 3,047 m: 3 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 914 to 1,523 m: 8 under 914 m: 5 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 11 914 to 1,523 m: 2 under 914 m: 9 (2001) Military Puerto Rico
Military branches: no regular indigenous military forces; paramilitary National Guard, Police Force
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the US Transnational Issues Puerto Rico Disputes - international: none

* * *

officially Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Self-governing island commonwealth of the West Indies; it is associated with the U.S. Area: 3,515 sq mi (9,104 sq km).

Population (2000): 3,808,610. Capital: San Juan. The population is a mixture of diverse ethnic groups, mainly of Spanish and African descent. Languages: Spanish and English (both official). Religion: Roman Catholicism. Currency: U.S. dollar. Puerto Rico is a mountainous island and may be divided into three geographic regions: the mountainous interior, the northern plateau, and the coastal plains. It has a developing free-market economy, of which manufacturing, financial services, and trade (mostly with the U.S.) are the main components. Tourism is also an important source of income. Its chief of state is the U.S. president, and its head of government is the commonwealth governor. The island was inhabited by Arawak Indians when it was settled by the Spanish in the early 16th century. It remained largely undeveloped economically until the late 18th century. After 1830 it gradually developed a plantation economy based on the export crops of sugarcane, coffee, and tobacco. The independence movement began in the late 19th century, and Spain ceded the island to the U.S. in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. In 1917 Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship, and in 1952 the island became a commonwealth with autonomy in internal affairs. The question of Puerto Rican statehood has been a political issue, with commonwealth status approved by voters in 1967 and again in 1993.

* * *

Introduction
officially  Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , Spanish  Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico  
Puerto Rico, flag of  self-governing island commonwealth of the West Indies, associated with the United States. The easternmost island of the Greater Antilles chain, it lies approximately 50 miles (80 km) east of the Dominican Republic, 40 miles (65 km) west of the Virgin Islands, and 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of the U.S. state of Florida. It is situated in the northeastern Caribbean Sea, its northern shore facing the Atlantic Ocean. Two small islands off the east coast, Vieques (Vieques Island) and Culebra (Culebra Island), are administratively parts of Puerto Rico, as is Mona Island to the west. Compared with its Greater Antillean neighbours, Puerto Rico is one-fifth as large as the Dominican Republic, one-third the size of Haiti, and slightly smaller than Jamaica. It is roughly rectangular in shape, extending up to 111 miles (179 km) from east to west and 39 miles (63 km) from north to south. The capital is San Juan.

      Puerto Ricans, or puertorriqueños, have an intermingled Spanish, U.S., and Afro-Caribbean culture. The island's social and economic conditions are generally advanced by Latin American standards, partly because of its ties with the United States (including the presence of U.S.-owned manufacturing plants and military bases in the commonwealth). Although that relationship has become politically controversial, the vast majority of Puerto Rican voters have continued to favour permanent union with the United States, with a slightly greater number favouring the current commonwealth relationship rather than statehood. A small but persistent minority has advocated independence.

The land (Puerto Rico)

Relief
 Puerto Rico is largely composed of mountainous and hilly terrain, with nearly one-fourth of the island covered by steep slopes. The mountains are the easternmost extension of a tightly folded and faulted ridge that extends from the Central American mainland across the northern Caribbean to the Lesser Antilles. Although Puerto Rican relief is relatively low by continental standards, the island sits less than 100 miles (160 km) south of a precipitous depression in the Earth's crust: an extensive submarine feature of the Atlantic known as the Puerto Rico Trench, which descends to more than 5 miles (8 km) below sea level—the Atlantic's deepest point—at a site northeast of the Dominican Republic. Powerful tectonic forces that over millions of years have created these features still occasionally cause earthquakes in Puerto Rico. The island's highest mountain range, the Cordillera Central (Central, Cordillera), trends east-west and exceeds 3,000 feet (900 metres) in many areas; its slopes are somewhat gentle in the north but rise sharply from the south coast to the loftier peaks, topped at about 4,390 feet (1,338 metres) by Cerro de Punta, the highest point on the island. Near the island's eastern tip, the partly isolated Sierra de Luquillo rises to 3,494 feet (1,065 metres) at El Yunque Peak.

      The northwestern foothills and lowlands are characterized by karst features, including sinkholes (sumideros), caverns, and eroded mogotes, or haystack hills (pepinos). There is a continuous but narrow lowland along the north coast, where most people live, and smaller bands along the south and west coasts that also include densely populated areas. The Caguas Basin, in the Grande de Loíza River (Loíza River) valley south of San Juan, is the largest of several basins in the mountains that provide level land for settlements and agriculture. The islands of Mona, Vieques, and Culebra are generally hilly but ringed by narrow coastal plains; Vieques rises to 988 feet (301 metres) at Mount Pirata.

Drainage and soils
      None of Puerto Rico's rivers is large enough for navigation, but several northward-flowing rivers are harnessed for municipal water supplies, irrigation, and hydroelectricity, and along the south coast irrigation is essential for agriculture. Puerto Rico's precipitation mainly falls on the north-facing mountain slopes, so that most of the permanent rivers flow from the interior to the north and west coasts, including the Grande de Loíza, Grande de Arecibo (Arecibo River), and Grande de Añasco rivers—all of which are some 40 miles (65 km) long—and La Plata (La Plata River), which extends 46 miles (75 km). The river courses on the south coast are dry most of the year, carrying water only after rainfall. Pockets of alluvial soils on the south coast are somewhat fertile, but all farmlands there are fertilized. Many formerly cultivated and eroded areas in the mountains have been set aside as forest preserves.

Climate
      Puerto Rico has a tropical climate with little seasonal variation, although local conditions vary according to elevation and exposure to rain-bearing winds. Northeast trade winds bring heavy rainfall to the north coast, while the south coast is in a rain shadow. San Juan receives about 60 inches (1,525 mm) of precipitation per year, whereas El Yunque Peak farther east receives 180 inches (4,570 mm), and Ponce on the south coast receives only 36 inches (914 mm). Rain falls each month of the year, but the heaviest precipitation occurs between May and December. The average daily temperature in the lowlands is about 78 °F (26 °C), but relatively high humidity makes daytime temperatures feel warmer. Highland temperatures average a few degrees lower. Hurricanes develop in the region between June and November and occasionally traverse the island, including a storm in 1899 that killed about 3,000 Puerto Ricans; other devastating but less lethal hurricanes occurred in 1928, 1932, 1956, 1989, and 1998.

Plant and animal life
 Plant life is abundant and varied. Tropical rainforests cover parts of the north side of the island, and thorn and scrub vegetation predominates on the drier south side. Most of the island's original vegetation was removed through centuries of agricultural exploitation, particularly during the first two decades of the 20th century, when farm settlers and plantation workers destroyed large tracts of coastal forest and used the lumber for railroad ties and fuel. Although some woodlands have been replanted since the mid-20th century, introduced varieties of trees, shrubs, and grasses now predominate.

      The scarlet- and orange-flowered royal poinciana, or flamboyant (Delonix regia), and the African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata) are among the flowering trees that dot the mountains with patches of vivid colour against a lush green background. The Caribbean National Forest in the Sierra de Luquillo southeast of San Juan preserves rare species of orchids and the small green Puerto Rican parrot, an endangered species. Puerto Rico has more than 200 species of birds, but land animals are mostly confined to nonpoisonous snakes, lizards, mongooses, and the coquí (Eleutherodactylis portoricensis), a frog whose name is onomatopoeic with its call (“co-kee!”) and which has become a kind of national mascot. Numerous varieties of fish abound in the surrounding waters, but edible and inedible species mingle together, limiting commercial fishing there.

Settlement patterns
      In the early 16th century Spanish explorers founded San Juan, which prospered throughout the colonial period as a trading port. The island's other colonial settlements, also predominantly coastal, expanded slowly. From the time the United States took possession of the island in 1898 until the mid-20th century, settlement in Puerto Rico was characterized by dispersed rural farmsteads, as well as some large sugarcane plantations, but the commonwealth subsequently became predominantly urban. Nearly three-fourths of the population now live in cities and towns, with only scattered settlements in the mountains. The population of the San Juan metropolitan area, which had swelled to about 400,000 people by 1950, had increased an additional threefold by 2000.

      A nearly continuous urban area has developed from Caguas to San Juan and along the north coast from Fajardo through San Juan to Arecibo. Ponce on the south coast and Mayagüez on the west are other urban cores. Few places on the island are more than an hour's drive from a major urban area, each of which sprawls with modern shopping centres and residential developments such as those found in comparably sized cities in the United States.

The people (Puerto Rico)

Ethnic composition
      Puerto Rico's population is ethnically mixed because of centuries of immigration and cultural assimilation. There is little overt racial discrimination, although people of Spanish and other European ancestry are still esteemed among most elite members of society. Between 20,000 and 50,000 Taino Indians inhabited the island when Columbus arrived there in 1493, but European diseases and maltreatment largely decimated them. The Spanish brought only a limited number of African slaves to Puerto Rico compared with other islands in the region because the local plantations remained relatively small and unimportant. Spanish males, who constituted the largest group of immigrants, freely intermarried with indigenous women and Africans. When slavery was abolished in 1873, only about 5 percent of the population was of entirely African ancestry. Some Chinese, Italians, Corsicans, Lebanese, Germans, Scottish, and Irish also found their way to the island in the mid-19th century, a time when the population was growing steadily. Additional immigrants arrived from the United States after 1898, and more than 20,000 Cuban exiles joined them after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in 1959. In subsequent decades an even larger number of job-seeking immigrants arrived from the Dominican Republic.

Language and religion
      Both Spanish and English are official languages in Puerto Rico, which remains a predominantly Spanish-speaking society. Many English words have been added to the island's popular lexicon. English is also widely understood, and about one-fourth of Puerto Rican adults speak English fluently.

      Puerto Rico's constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Today about two-thirds of the island's inhabitants are Roman Catholics, a legacy of its centuries as a Spanish colony. In the 19th century the church's loyalty to Spain eroded much of its popular support, and after 1898 many Protestant missionaries arrived from the United States, including Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Methodists, Disciples of Christ, and Congregationalists. Adherents to Protestant churches now account for more than one-fourth of the population.

Demographic trends
      Health conditions gradually improved in Puerto Rico following its occupation by the United States, contributing to a population explosion that included a 21 percent increase between 1930 and 1940 and a reduction of death rates. The growing population threatened Puerto Rico's already fragile economy and quality of life because of the island's rural economy and limited physical resources, including mountainous slopes poorly suited to agriculture. By 1947, when the island's population reached some 2,110,000, chronic unemployment had triggered an exodus to the United States, where job opportunities were plentiful. In the 1950s family planning and mass emigration began to slow the island's population growth markedly, although crowded conditions continued to strain the economy. In the latter part of the 20th century Puerto Rico was transformed from a rural to an urban society, allowing for a denser population that no longer depended on marginal agricultural lands. By the beginning of the 21st century the population was nearly double its 1947 level; however, the rates of population growth and infant mortality were reduced, and life expectancy and educational achievement had increased, so that Puerto Rican health standards approached those of the United States. Improved conditions have prompted a small return migration from the United States back to Puerto Rico, the rate of which has at times exceeded that of emigration.

Puerto Ricans in the United States
      The number of persons of Puerto Rican birth or origin residing in the United States has approached parity with the size of the island's population. In 1940 only about 70,000 Puerto Ricans lived in the United States, with nine-tenths of them clustered in New York City. By 1960 the U.S.-based Puerto Rican population had increased to 887,000 (of which 615,000 were born in Puerto Rico and 272,000 in the United States) and had already begun to disperse throughout the country, although the largest group remained in New York City. By the late 1990s the number of Puerto Ricans in the United States had increased nearly fourfold over the 1960 level to more than 3,000,000, including some 1,200,000 born on the island. They were concentrated mainly in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Florida, and California. Puerto Ricans have carved out a place for themselves in North American society, occupying leading positions in government, business, education, and the arts. Since virtually every Puerto Rican residing in the United States has relatives on the island, there is frequent back-and-forth travel, particularly during summer and Christmas holidays.

The economy
      Puerto Rico's economy, now based on services and manufacturing, was dominated by agriculture until the mid-20th century. Under Spanish colonial rule the island was largely neglected because of its limited mineral resources; however, the harbour at San Juan prospered as a major link in Spain's oceanic trade routes, and massive fortifications were built there. When the United States acquired Puerto Rico in 1898, following the Spanish-American War, it found itself in control of a poor island whose inhabitants were mostly involved in small-scale coffee and sugarcane production. Extensive U.S. markets were opened up for sugar as North American companies took over and expanded many of the island's sugarcane operations.

      In the decades after World War II, factories replaced and dwarfed farms as the driving force of Puerto Rico's economy, stimulated by a government-sponsored program of economic development and social welfare. After the government failed to increase employment in cooperative agricultural enterprises and labour-intensive industries, it changed tactics and dramatically upgraded the island's transportation infrastructure while promoting private enterprise. Low wage rates, advantageous tax breaks, and government-supported start-up costs induced hundreds of manufacturers from the United States (and some from Europe) to establish operations in Puerto Rico. At first these factories produced mainly textiles, processed food, shoes, clothing, ceramics, tobacco, and wood products, but from the 1960s they also began manufacturing petrochemicals and other high-technology products. By the late 20th century much of the island's poverty had been eliminated, partly because of growth in manufacturing but also because of the growing importance of services, especially tourism. Income from U.S. federal agencies operating in Puerto Rico and various social welfare programs helped raise the standard of living through massive annual federal payments that included grants to low-income college students and widely available food stamps. Remittances from relatives living in the United States have also constituted an important source of household income.

      In the 1990s the Puerto Rican government privatized several state-run businesses, notably hotels, food-processing facilities, telecommunications and transportation companies, and hospitals. In 1996 the U.S. Congress voted to phase out gradually a major tax exemption for U.S. manufacturers doing business in Puerto Rico. Nonetheless, some types of factories have continued to benefit from tax incentives, and Puerto Rico has remained attractive to investors because of its political stability and financial ties to the United States, including New York City's credit markets..

      Although there are extremes of wealth and poverty in Puerto Rico, the island has a large middle class. Its median household income is far below that of the United States, but the vast majority of Puerto Ricans live a modest middle-class existence by Caribbean standards. Unemployment in Puerto Rico affects about one-eighth of the workforce, though the situation has improved since the early 1980s, when nearly one-fourth of Puerto Rican workers were jobless. Puerto Rico has a relatively low rate of labour force participation; that is, it has a lower proportion of eligible workers who are employed or are actively seeking work.

Resources
      Other than picturesque beaches and a tropical climate, Puerto Rico has limited natural resources. The mountainous terrain that dominates much of the island's surface considerably handicaps agriculture. Only clay, silica sand, and stone are found in economically significant quantities. Large deposits of copper, and some gold, exist in the mountains south of Utuado and Lares but have not been mined, in part because of environmental concerns.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
      Agriculture, forestry, and fishing account for a relatively tiny amount of the gross domestic product (GDP) and employment. Sugarcane production, supported by low-paying, seasonal labour, is now relatively insignificant, and Puerto Rico imports much of the molasses required for its important rum industry. Coffee, tobacco, and milk remain traditional farm products, but several farms are dedicated to specialized products for local and export markets, such as pineapples, mangoes, melons, and other tropical fruits, as well as beef, pork, poultry, and eggs.

      Bamboo and tropical hardwoods support a small furniture industry. For decades the island's commercial tuna industry was part of a large-scale international operation that brought its catch from distant fisheries to Puerto Rico, where fish were processed for export; however, by the early 21st century most of the canneries had been closed and their operations relocated to countries with lower hourly wages. The waters surrounding Puerto Rico are generally renowned for sport fishing but cannot support commercial efforts.

Manufacturing
      Manufacturing accounts for approximately two-fifths of the GDP and about one-seventh of the labour force. Goods manufactured or assembled in Puerto Rico primarily use imported industrial components. U.S. firms dominate the manufacturing sector, largely through high-technology industries producing pharmaceuticals, electronics, chemicals, and medical equipment. Apparel, processed foods, and soft drinks are also important. Several smaller factories are owned by local entrepreneurs. Global competition since the late 20th century has slowed the island's manufacturing sector, which is no longer as competitive in labour-intensive industries because U.S. minimum wages also apply there. The island's average hourly wages are about sixfold higher than those of Mexico, from which manufactured goods have also entered the U.S. market duty-free since the mid-1990s.

Services
      Services, including trade, finance, tourism, and government work, have become the dominant and most dynamic force in Puerto Rico's economy, accounting for about half of the GDP and as much as three-fourths of employment on the island. Government functions produce about one-tenth of the island's GDP and employ roughly one-fifth of the workforce.

Finance and trade
      Trade generates about one-tenth of the GDP and employs one-fifth of the workforce, whereas finance, real estate, and insurance create roughly one-eighth of the GDP but employ only a proportionally tiny number of workers. Puerto Rico relies on U.S. currency (the dollar), and the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank regulates its money supply and rates of foreign exchange. In addition the federal treasury collects customs taxes on foreign goods imported to Puerto Rico and excise taxes on goods sold in the United States. U.S. banks, retailers and wholesalers, restaurants, insurance companies, hotels, airlines, and many other firms have branch operations on the island.

      Puerto Rican trade is facilitated by the island's inclusion in the U.S. Customs system, and Puerto Rico's most important trading partner, by far, is the United States. The island also carries on significant trade with Japan, the Dominican Republic, and European nations. The chief exports are chemicals and chemical products, foodstuffs, and machinery; the main imports are electrical machinery, food products, and transportation equipment.

      Puerto Rico has become a major vacation destination because of its fine year-round weather and air and sea transportation links; hotels, guest houses, and condominium developments dot the island's coastline. In the 1990s there was a boom in new hotel construction, in part because of tax incentives and financing assistance from the island's government. Between one and two million visitors register each year at Puerto Rico's hotels and inns, and vast numbers of cruise ship passengers stop over annually.

Transportation
      Many visitors flying into San Juan depart for other islands aboard the huge cruise ships based in the city's deepwater harbour, one of the more sheltered ports in the Caribbean. The city is also a major commercial port for transatlantic and regional shipping. Port activities are controlled by the Puerto Rico Maritime Shipping Authority, which the government privatized in 1995. The island has a comprehensive and efficient road system; traffic is particularly heavy in and around San Juan. Construction of a passenger rail system in the San Juan metropolitan area began in the late 1990s.

      San Juan's international airport, located 5 miles (8 km) outside the city, handles most passenger and freight traffic. Near Aguadilla in the northwest, another airport (formerly a U.S. Air Force base) also handles international flights. Local and regional air service is available in Ponce and Mayagüez and at the smaller Isla Grande Airport of San Juan.

Administration and social conditions

Government
 Puerto Rico's political status is officially described in its 1952 constitution as a “freely associated state” within the federal system of the United States. The U.S. government's Puerto Rico–Federal Relations Act (1950), which retains many provisions of the earlier Foraker (1900) and Jones (1917) acts, further defines U.S.–Puerto Rican relations. Universal suffrage has been in effect since 1932 (12 years after it was instituted for the continental United States); prior to that time, neither Puerto Rican women nor illiterate males had been allowed to vote. Although Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917, they cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections, but those 18 years and older may vote for a resident commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives (Representatives, House of)—who is allowed to speak but may vote only in committees. (Thus, Puerto Ricans do not pay federal taxes because they are without representation.) The commonwealth constitution (Constitution of the United States of America), which was patterned on its U.S. counterpart, provides for executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The constitution may be altered by the commonwealth so long as its articles do not conflict with the U.S. constitution or the Puerto Rico–Federal Relations Act.

      The governor, who heads the executive branch, is elected by direct popular vote to a four-year term and may seek reelection. The legislature is composed of the Senate (Senado) and the House of Representatives (Cámara de Representantes), whose members are elected to four-year terms and are also eligible for reelection. At a minimum, there are 27 seats in the Senate and 51 in the House of Representatives; the constitution provides for the addition of special at-large seats in order to limit a majority party's membership to two-thirds of either house. Legislators from the island's 8 senatorial districts (with 2 senators each) and 40 representative districts (with 1 representative each) are elected through a system of proportional representation. In addition 11 senators and 11 representatives are directly elected at large. The island is further divided into 78 municipalities, each of which is governed by a mayor and council who are directly elected to four-year terms.

      Puerto Rico's justice system is headed by the island's Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo), whose six justices are appointed to life terms by the governor with the advice and consent of the commonwealth Senate. There are 12 superior courts and scores of municipal courts. A U.S. district court has jurisdiction over the application of federal laws in Puerto Rico, and appeals may be carried to the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. The level of corruption in the Puerto Rican justice system is probably no worse than that found in the United States. Although the island's prisons are overcrowded and in poorer condition than U.S. prisons, they are generally better than those found in other parts of Latin America.

      Puerto Rico has three main political parties, each of which advocates a different political status for the island. The two leading parties are the Popular Democratic Party, which supports the continuation of commonwealth status, and the New Progressive Party, which favours U.S. statehood. Together these two parties have commanded virtually all the vote in elections since the late 20th century. The Puerto Rican Independence Party, which won one-fifth of the vote in 1952, is supported by about 5 percent of the electorate.

Armed forces and police
      Puerto Rico continues to be a strategic site for the U.S. military. For decades the U.S. Navy has occupied a large base at Roosevelt Roads, on the east coast. By 2001 local protests had mounted against the navy's use of a portion of the nearby island of Vieques for its maneuvers, including gunnery and bombing practice, and the federal government, bowing to public pressure, announced plans to halt the bombing.

      Unlike the various municipal, county, and state police forces common in the United States, Puerto Rico has a single, centralized police force, which includes a body of detectives. Puerto Rico is considered a major transshipment point for illegal drugs (drug abuse) from South America to North America, and local and U.S. law enforcement agencies have long been engaged in drug interdiction efforts there.

Education
      About nine-tenths of the people are literate. Schooling is compulsory and free for children between the ages of 6 and 16. Although most children complete at least eight years of education, there is a high dropout rate. About half of Puerto Ricans age 25 and older are high school graduates, and bachelor's degrees are held by one-seventh of the population—nearly one-fourth of high school graduates. Puerto Rico invests heavily in education—nearly one-third of its annual budget—notably in vocational and technical programs, and U.S. federal funds also encourage attendance in schools and universities. The main public institution of higher learning is the University of Puerto Rico (founded 1903), with its main campus at Río Piedras. Among the several private universities and colleges are the Inter-American University (1912), which has several campuses, and the Pontifical Catholic University (1948) in Ponce.

Health and welfare
      In 1947 the Puerto Rican birth rate was about 43 per 1,000 people, whereas life expectancy at birth was only about 50 years. Health conditions subsequently improved dramatically, approaching the standards of the U.S. states. The life expectancy at birth is now some 79 years for Puerto Rican women and 71 for men. Major causes of death include heart disease, cancers, diabetes, cerebrovascular diseases, and pneumonia and influenza. Urban clinics and rural health centres provide basic medical care, and the U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs have contributed to improving health among lower-income residents, as have various other social programs. In the 1990s the Puerto Rican government initiated financial reforms of the health care system, including privatizing some hospitals and clinics.

      The government has long worked to upgrade rural and urban areas with piped water, electricity, and other amenities. It has also improved the housing situation, notably through its Urban Renewal and Housing Corporation, which concentrates on low-income housing projects. A water-treatment system and aqueduct, laid out along the coast from north-central Puerto Rico to San Juan, opened in 2000.

Cultural life
      The idealized folk hero of Puerto Rico is the jíbaro, a rustic, independent hill-farmer whose status in local song and story is similar to that of the gaucho of Argentina. However, modern Puerto Rican cultural life is a blend of North American and Latin, African, and Caribbean forms, as is evident in much of the island's dance, music, art, literature, and sports. The pre-Columbian Taino culture, which was largely decimated by European colonizers, has had only limited impact on Puerto Rican life and is evident mainly in the use of certain linguistic expressions and words incorporated into the Spanish language, such as hamaca (“hammock”), cacique (“chief”), and tabaco (“tobacco”). African influences are found in food, music, and art. Music festivals, museums in Ponce and San Juan, and theatrical performances encourage hispanidad, or Spanish customs. Puerto Ricans have worked to preserve a Latin heritage while welcoming U.S. economic and social novelties, engendering a cultural dilemma that has often catalyzed political debate.

Daily life
      Puerto Rican lifestyles have changed rapidly as new technologies, economic opportunities, and patterns of development have emerged. The island as a whole remains far poorer than the United States, but its growing middle class has adopted living standards that would be familiar to most North Americans. Two-thirds of Puerto Rican families own their own homes. Large expanses of former farmland have been converted to suburban communities (urbanizaciones), rural wooden shacks have been replaced by sturdy cement houses equipped with modern appliances, and cars have increasingly clogged modern highways, particularly during evening rush hours in the San Juan area. A voracious appetite for consumer goods, coupled with easy access to credit, prompts shoppers to jam air-conditioned suburban malls that feature U.S. chain stores, fast-food restaurants, and multiplex cinemas. On most Saturday nights in San Juan, well-dressed young suburbanites crowd the dance floors of nightclubs and hotels (once the exclusive province of tourists) or frequent the bars and cafés of historic Old San Juan.

      Puerto Ricans continue to prefer traditional dishes with rice and beans, plantains, and beef, chicken, or pork. However, North American fast-food restaurants that sell hamburgers, pizza, and other fare are growing in popularity, particularly among the young. Traditional Creole foods include sopa de arroz con pollo (chicken-and-rice soup), sancocho (a beef-and-vegetable stew), tostones (fried plantain slices), flan, and casabe, powdery cakes made from ground cassava, often served with molasses and coconut milk. Local supermarkets are well stocked with traditional fare as well as frozen and processed foods, which are mainly imported from the United States. Locally produced soft drinks and rums are also popular.

Cultural institutions
      Most of Puerto Rico's cultural institutions, including its major universities and libraries, are concentrated in the San Juan area. The Puerto Rican Athenium (Ateneo Puertorriqueño; 1876) is a prestigious learned society. The University of Puerto Rico Library System (1903) is the island's main library, with more than four million holdings divided among 12 sites. Works by Puerto Rican painters and sculptors are displayed in the Fine Arts Museum (1967; featuring 18th-century artists), the Museum of Contemporary Art (1984), and the Puerto Rican Museum of Art (2000)—all of which are in San Juan. Also notable are the Ponce Art Museum (1956) and the Museum of Religious Art, the latter housed in a 17th-century church in San Germán. The Luis A. Ferré Fine Arts Centre in San Juan is the venue for many theatrical and musical events. Among the island's research centres are the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (1955), the Institute of Tropical Forestry (1939), and the Arecibo Observatory (1960), which operates a radio telescope with a 1,000-foot (300-metre) diameter, the largest of its kind in the world.

Visual arts
      Some of the island's earliest inhabitants created polychrome ceramics, amulets, and stone carvings. About AD 1000 the Taino used granite, marble, and other types of stone to carve three-pointed figures with human and animal features; they also produced ceremonial stools, wooden rattles, petroglyphs surrounding their ball courts, and stone-carved ceremonial belts or collars. During Puerto Rico's colonial period African slaves formed multicoloured coconut-fibre masks for local festivals, a tradition that is still carried on. José de Rivafrecha y Campeche (1751–1809) was the island's first major painter. The most notable 19th-century painters were Ramón Atiles y Pérez and Francisco Oller. More recent artists include Julio Rosado del Valle, Rafael Tufiño, Antonio Martorell, and Augusto Marín.

Literature
      Contemporary poets, novelists, short-story writers, and essayists keep alive the traditions of such 19th-century forerunners as novelist Manuel Zeno Gandía, playwright Alejandro Tapia, essayist Eugenio María de Hostos (Hostos, Eugenio María de), and poet José Gautier Benítez. Leading 20th-century and contemporary authors include novelists and short-story writers Abelardo Díaz Alfaro, Enrique Laguerre, Pedro Juan Soto, Emilio Díaz Valcárcel, José Luis González, and Rosario Ferré; poets Julia de Burgos and Luis Palés Matos (whose works reflected Afro-Caribbean influences); and playwright René Marqués.

Performing arts
      Puerto Rican musicians, composers, and actors have made marks far beyond their island's narrow shores, and some have been counted among the world's most famous pop-culture figures. Notable Puerto Rican stage and screen performers include the Academy Award winners José Ferrer (Ferrer, José), Rita Moreno, and Benicio Del Toro, as well as Raúl Juliá; also of Puerto Rican descent are Chita Rivera and Jennifer Lopez.

      Among 19th-century composers are Manuel Tavárez and Juan Morel Campos, both known for their dance melodies. The popular 20th-century songwriter Rafael Hernández is still revered throughout Latin America. The Spanish-born cellist Pablo Casals (Casals, Pablo), whose mother was Puerto Rican, moved to the island in 1956 and founded the world-famous classical music festival there that bears his name. Puerto Rican musicians have included the classical pianist Jesus María Sanromá, opera singers Antonio Paoli and Justino Díaz, and popular musicians Tito Puente, José Feliciano, and Ricky Martin.

      Latin jazz and salsa are enjoyed throughout the island; also popular are merengue, rock, rap, the Afro-Caribbean bomba, and the tambourine-marked plena. Many musical groups preserve jíbaro (folk) music by playing such instruments as the cuatro (a small guitar carved from a single piece of wood), the marímbula (a wooden box on which are mounted tuned metal tongues), the güiro (a percussive gourd that is also a popular decoration), drums, and maracas.

Sports and recreation
       baseball is Puerto Rico's national sport, and the island has long been a source for U.S. major-league players, including Roberto Clemente (Clemente, Roberto), Juan (“Igor”) González, Bernie Williams, Roberto Hernández, Iván Rodríguez, and Leo Gómez. Boxing and basketball are also popular, as exemplified by the Puerto Rican welterweight boxing champion Félix (“Tito”) Trinidad in the late 1990s. Cockfighting and thoroughbred horse racing events (where gambling is permitted) are also well attended. Puerto Rico has competed in the Olympic Games since 1948, and its boxers are frequent contenders for medals.

      Puerto Rico observes many of the secular holidays of the United States, and, like other Latin American nations, its municipalities celebrate numerous religious festivals centred on the feast days of patron saints. The Festival of St. John the Baptist (June 24) in San Juan climaxes at midnight when revelers walk backwards into the sea, an act said to bring good luck. Ponce hosts a pre-Lenten Carnival featuring horn-masked celebrants who dance and take part in parades, and the town of Hatillo holds the Carnival-like Festival of the Masks each December 28.

Press and broadcasting
      The commonwealth has a free press, and local and major U.S. newspapers are widely available, as are foreign publications. Puerto Rico has several weekly and five daily periodicals, the largest of which are El Nuevo Día, El Vocero de Puerto Rico, and the San Juan Star (which has both English- and Spanish-language editions). The first radio broadcast in Puerto Rico was made in 1923, and the island now has some 120 AM and FM radio stations—giving it one of the world's highest densities of radio broadcasters. Nearly all broadcasts are in Spanish. Television was introduced in 1954, and there are now a dozen Spanish-language TV stations, with programming comparable to that shown in the United States. Puerto Rico also has government radio and television stations, which feature educational and cultural broadcasts. English-language channels and other programming are available via cable television and satellite.

Kal Wagenheim Olga J. Wagenheim

History (Puerto Rico)
      The following discussion focuses on Puerto Rican history from the time of European settlement. For treatment of the island in its regional context, see Latin America, history of, and West Indies, history of (West Indies).

      The first inhabitants of Puerto Rico were hunter-gatherers who reached the island more than 1,000 years before the arrival of the Spanish. Arawak Indians, who developed the Taino culture, had also settled there by AD 1000. The clan-based Taino lived in small villages led by a cacique, or chief. They had a limited knowledge of agriculture but grew such domesticated tropical crops as pineapples, cassava, and sweet potatoes and supplemented their diet with seafood. In the late 15th century 20,000–50,000 Taino lived on Puerto Rico, which they called Boriquén (Borinquén, or Boriken). The Taino occasionally warded off attacks by their Carib neighbours from islands to the south and east, including the Virgin Islands and Vieques Island.

      In 1493 Christopher Columbus left Spain on his second voyage to the Indies with a large expedition of 17 ships and about 1,500 men. At the island of Guadeloupe the Spaniards rescued several Taino prisoners whom the Carib had taken from Boriquén, and Columbus agreed to return them to their island. On November 19, 1493, Columbus anchored in a bay on the west coast of Boriquén, which he promptly renamed San Juan Bautista (“Saint John the Baptist”) and claimed for the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand II and Isabella I. The expeditionaries spent two days on the island before sailing westward to Hispaniola, where they established the first permanent settlement in the New World.

Spanish colonial rule
Early settlement
      For 15 years San Juan Bautista was neglected except for an occasional visit by a ship putting in for supplies. In 1508 Juan Ponce de León (Ponce de León, Juan), who had accompanied Columbus and worked to colonize Hispaniola, was granted permission to explore the island. On the north coast Ponce de León found an exceptionally well-protected bay that could harbour a large number of sailing vessels; on high ground beside the bay he founded Caparra, the island's first town and the site of its first mining and agricultural operations. By 1521 the town was moved to an islet at the northern end of the harbour and renamed Puerto Rico (“Rich Port”). Through time and common usage the port became known as San Juan while the name Puerto Rico came to be applied to the whole island.

      The Taino soon lost reverence for their Spanish “protectors,” who expected the Indians to act as vassals, paying tribute in gold and food as well as accepting instruction in the Christian religion. Meanwhile, European diseases (to which the Spaniards were largely immune) and maltreatment had begun to devastate the Taino population. In 1511 the Indians rebelled but had only temporary success against the better-armed Spanish, who again subjugated them. The Spanish subsequently brought Indian slaves from nearby islands and black slaves from Africa in order to fully staff their placer mines. However, gold production markedly declined after the 1530s, and many of the Europeans migrated elsewhere.

      Those who remained set up sugarcane and ginger plantations with their African slaves, but the colony continued to lead a precarious existence. Carib groups from neighbouring islands made frequent raids, carrying off food and slaves and destroying property. Puerto Rico was further ravaged by disease, and it was plundered by French, British, and Dutch pirates. During the mid-16th century French forces repeatedly burned and sacked San Germán, the island's second settlement. Increasing numbers of colonists left the island.

      In the second half of the 16th century Spain, recognizing the strategic importance of Puerto Rico, undertook to convert San Juan into a military outpost by using a financial subsidy from the Mexican mines. Initially they built a fortified palace for the governor called La Fortaleza (“The Fortress”), followed by the massive San Felipe del Morro (El Morro) castle, which was perfectly located to dominate the narrow entrance to the harbour. Finally they added a stronger and larger fortress (San Cristóbal) to the northeast, on the Atlantic side of the city. In the early 17th century the city was surrounded by a stone wall 25 feet (8 metres) high and 18 feet (5 metres) thick, two parts of which still stand. These defenses made San Juan almost impregnable.

      In 1595 Sir Francis Drake (Drake, Sir Francis) attacked the city with a sizable fleet but failed to silence its guns. Three years later the British soldier George Clifford, 3rd earl of Cumberland, captured the city but was soon forced to abandon it after his troops fell victim to disease (probably dysentery). In 1625 the Dutchman Bowdoin Hendrik captured and burned the town but failed to subdue El Morro, where the governor had taken refuge.

      San Juan, the most exposed military outpost guarding Spain's New World empire, received political and economic attention from the mother country; however, the island's rural inhabitants, or jíbaros, were typically ignored by Spain and scorned by the residents of San Juan. The jíbaros thus fended for themselves and cultivated their own small landholdings. As the French, British, Danish, and Dutch fought over and settled the Lesser Antilles during the 17th and 18th centuries, the colonial authorities of San Juan rarely ventured beyond their walled defenses for fear of buccaneer attacks; however, the jíbaros, ignoring the edicts of Spain, prospered somewhat by trading clandestinely with non-Spanish merchants. Ginger, hides, sugarcane, tobacco, and cattle from the island were in great demand. The settlers' contact with foreigners did not turn them away from their mother country—as the Spanish crown had feared—instead, they remained loyal and willing to participate in military expeditions.

Liberal reforms and regional turmoil
      During the 18th century Spain's Bourbon (Bourbon, House of) rulers ordered their colonial representatives to carry out sweeping economic and administrative reforms that promoted trade between Puerto Rico and Spain, stimulated agricultural production, and integrated the island's various military units into a unified command—all in order to convert Puerto Rico from a financial drain to a major economic asset. The enlightened despotism of the Spanish Bourbons encouraged Puerto Rico's commercial agriculture. The island's population grew rapidly, from roughly 45,000 in 1765 to more than 103,000 in 1787 and 155,000 in 1800. By the end of the 18th century there were 34 towns on the island. Among the larger immigrant groups were Canary Islanders, French settlers from Louisiana or Haiti, and Spaniards from Santo Domingo (later the Dominican Republic), which had been turned over to Napoleon I of France. Among other innovations, the newcomers introduced methods for producing more marketable crops. Coffee, brought to the island in 1736, became an important export by 1776, and sugarcane, which until then had been produced there only in small amounts, was augmented by large plantations using African slaves. From 1765 to 1800 the slave population increased from about 5,000 to more than 13,300, although the proportion of slaves to the total population actually decreased because of the large influx of European colonists.

      Spain's improved relations with Puerto Rico paid off militarily as the century drew to a close. The British erroneously considered the island a weak link in the Spanish chain of imperial defenses, because it had been a refuge for runaway slaves and a focus of clandestine trade and buccaneering operations. In 1797 the British general Sir Ralph Abercromby (Abercromby, Sir Ralph) led a naval force that captured Trinidad, which had been a somewhat neglected Spanish possession off the Venezuelan coast; however, Abercromby was firmly repulsed when he attacked Puerto Rico afterward.

      In 1808, when Napoleon I invaded the Iberian Peninsula and placed his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne, the colonies of South and Central America asserted their right to govern themselves in the name of the imprisoned Bourbon king, Ferdinand VII. This claim to temporary self-rule evolved into a revolutionary movement for independence in most of the region; however, in Puerto Rico a different sequence of events ensued for various reasons. All but one of the island's head districts offered little objection to Spain's strict mercantilist (mercantilism) policies, which for many decades had ceased to affect their livelihoods. In addition, most of the residents of San Juan remained dependent on Spain's administrative and military assistance and willingly followed imperial commands, though they ultimately served French designs.

      As the revolutions progressed on the mainland, many loyal Spanish colonists found refuge in Puerto Rico rather than returning across the Atlantic to Europe. In 1815 the restored Bourbon government of Spain granted ample economic liberties to Puerto Ricans in an attempt to reward their past loyalty and to ensure their future support for the empire. The new reforms opened the island's ports to trade with foreign merchants, permitted the immigration of all Roman Catholics, regardless of nationality, and granted free land to the new settlers. The diverse immigrants contributed substantially to Puerto Rico's economic development.

Economic and political shifts
      After 1830 Puerto Rico gradually developed a plantation economy based on sugarcane and coffee. Sugar and molasses, primarily exported to the United States, provided an important source of income for the Spanish government. By the 1890s the population had reached nearly one million, and the value of foreign trade had increased considerably. Coffee exports provided the principal source of income, and the land area devoted to sugarcane was slowly expanding.

      Political events during the 19th century were characterized by alternating periods of liberal reforms and conservative reactions, in part caused by the changes occurring in the Spanish government and Spain's antiquated system of colonial administration. Puerto Ricans experienced two short periods of relative political freedom (1809–14 and 1820–23), when the island was officially treated as an integral part of Spain with the right to elect representatives to the Spanish Cortes, or parliament. Ramón Power y Giralt, who was selected to represent the island during the first period, succeeded in having the Cortes revoke the absolute powers of the island's colonial governor. In the latter period Demetrio O'Daly convinced the Cortes to annul the colonial governor's control of the island's armed forces and permit freedom of the press. However, in 1814 and again in 1820 the Spanish government curtailed these periods of moderate colonial rule and reinstated its absolutist control.

      In 1837 a fairly permanent constitutional monarchy was established in Spain; however, Spanish lawmakers argued that the colonies were not true Spanish provinces and therefore should be governed by special laws. For more than three decades Puerto Ricans waited for the despotic rule of military colonial governors to loosen. During that period political thought on the island began to crystallize, and requests were made for assimilation into the Spanish government and representation in the Cortes. In contrast, a conservative bloc strongly favoured the status quo, and a small third group advocated complete independence.

Movements toward self-government
      A local commission, elected in 1865 to recommend governmental reforms, reported that slavery should be abolished before any other meaningful reforms were attempted. Political conservatives in Spain and on the island were shocked by the report, and the alarmed colonial government took steps to curtail a supposedly growing rebellious sentiment. Some of the more outspoken and respected islanders were arrested and sent to Spain for trial. Thus provoked, a small group of pro-independence radicals attempted an uprising, now known as the Grito de Lares (“Cry of Lares”), on September 23, 1868. The poorly planned revolt was quickly suppressed, but it took place concurrently with Cuba's struggle for independence, and the two events prompted Spain to grant several important reforms to Puerto Rico over the next few years. In addition, Spain's first republican government came to power, forced Queen Isabella II to abdicate, and pardoned all political prisoners in the colonies and the mother country. The Spanish republic soon abolished slavery and allowed Puerto Rico another period of constitutional government (1870–74).

      During the 1880s Román Baldorioty de Castro led a movement for political autonomy under Spanish rule, which gained momentum at the expense of calls for directly integrating Puerto Rico into the Spanish government. In 1887 the liberal movement was denounced as disloyal and was violently suppressed; however, such treatment only solidified popular support for the movement, and in 1897 the Autonomy Party was formed in Puerto Rico through cooperation with the Liberal Party in Spain. The new autonomous government was parliamentary in form but was overseen by the governor-general as a representative of the Spanish king, who remained empowered to disband the insular parliament and suspend civil rights under special circumstances. The two-chamber parliament was responsible for local legislation, tariffs, and taxes.

      The brief Spanish-American War (1898), which permitted the United States to take Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and other colonial possessions from Spain, also effectively prevented Puerto Ricans from putting into effect their new government. In May a U.S. naval force led by Admiral W.T. Sampson (Sampson, William T(homas)) bombarded San Juan for a short time without serious casualties. On July 25 General Nelson A. Miles landed a U.S. force of about 3,500 men at Guánica, on the south coast. He was met with only token military resistance and generally popular acceptance. Hostilities were ended on August 12 after a short campaign.

      The United States viewed Puerto Rico as a profitable site for tropical agriculture, but its main purpose in seizing the island was to have a secure coaling station for its warships. This would guarantee a strong U.S. naval presence in the Caribbean and create a stepping stone toward the Isthmus of Panama, where a transoceanic canal would soon be built.

Rule by the United States
Early years
      On October 18, 1898, General John R. Brooke became military governor of Puerto Rico. Spain subsequently ceded the island to the United States by the Treaty of Paris (Paris, Treaty of), which was signed in December 1898 and ratified by the U.S. Senate in February 1899. The military administration, which lasted until May 1900, successfully policed the island, established a public school system, managed government finances, and built sanitation networks, highways, and other public works. However, the military ruled with little regard for political or cultural sensitivities. The U.S. Congress instituted civil government in Puerto Rico with the Foraker Act (May 1900), under which the United States continued to exercise the controlling power, a condition that proved distasteful to many Puerto Ricans; as a consequence, the law was subsequently amended to give Puerto Ricans a wider role in the government. The Olmsted Act, approved by the U.S. Congress in July 1909, gave the U.S. president a more direct role in Puerto Rican affairs. However, the majority of Puerto Ricans eventually demanded a larger measure of local control and many other changes. During World War I the U.S. Congress responded to these pressures—and to the threat of German submarines prowling Caribbean waters—by passing the Jones Act, which came into effect in March 1917. Under its terms U.S. citizenship was conferred collectively on Puerto Ricans. However, the act failed to grant the measure of self-determination that Puerto Ricans had demanded in light of the democratic tradition of the United States, because key officials, including the governor, remained presidential appointees and were thus beyond local control.

      In spite of the legal limitations on political autonomy, Puerto Ricans slowly developed a sense of greater liberty as a result of the change of sovereignty. At first this new order was sometimes mistrusted, resented, and misunderstood, but in the long run it was recognized as beneficial. The powers of church and state were separated, resulting in open competition for religious adherence, and government programs began to deal directly with the vital needs of the people, including education, health and sanitation, and the regulation of working conditions—changes designed to remedy centuries of neglect.

Socioeconomic concerns
      Early U.S. governors were mainly preoccupied with “Americanizing” Puerto Rican institutions, language, and political habits, but they had no clear policy regarding the island's eventual political status. This lack of vision created strong resistance from many native leaders led by Luis Muñoz Rivera (Muñoz Rivera, Luis), who had fought for autonomy under Spain. The island's economy was completely reoriented, creating rapid and profound changes in all aspects of life. Puerto Rican agricultural products, particularly sugarcane, were included within U.S. tariff walls and had a ready market; by 1899 the United States was buying almost two-thirds of Puerto Rican sugar production. Puerto Rico, aided by the adoption of U.S. currency and by financial reforms, soon received large amounts of investment capital that revolutionized sugarcane production. Three-fourths of the population became directly or indirectly dependent on sugarcane as land under cultivation expanded sevenfold between 1899 and 1939, new disease-resistant plants were imported, new styles of corporate management were implemented, and transportation facilities and large and efficient sugarcane-grinding mills were built. The population increased from about 950,000 in 1899 to more than 1,540,000 in 1930.

      The new focus on large-scale production sharpened social and political tensions as wealth was concentrated into fewer hands and formerly independent farmers lost their lands and became plantation employees. In addition the island was forced to import much of its food, and the government focused most of its aid on disaster relief and transportation problems rather than helping small-scale coffee growers. Tobacco production increased until about 1930, when most smokers in the United States shifted from cigars to cigarettes (which are produced from a different type of tobacco plant).

      In addition to these economic changes, Puerto Ricans underwent a radical social change as modern sanitation practices and medical knowledge were applied to combat the island's high death rate. The population seemed likely to double within two generations. The worldwide Great Depression struck in the midst of these changes, and U.S. government officials refocused their attention elsewhere. Recurring hurricanes and declining exports aggravated the economic distress of the island.

Political developments
      Most Puerto Rican political parties since 1898 had attempted to modify the political relations between the island and the U.S. federal government; the island's Republican Party favoured statehood, whereas the Union Party worked for greater autonomy. The Nationalist Party arose in the 1920s and argued for immediate independence. Meanwhile, the pro-U.S. Socialist Party, led by the highly respected labour leader Santiago Iglesias, remained focused on the plight of Puerto Rico's labouring classes, but its program had little support, because popular attention was largely concentrated on the political status of the island.

      Puerto Rico was aided somewhat in the mid-1930s by President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal policies, which radically enlarged the previously accepted role of the government. The newly formed Puerto Rican Reconstruction Administration (PRRA) attempted to redistribute economic power on the island, primarily by placing a restrictive quota on sugarcane production and enforcing a long-neglected law that limited corporate holdings to 500 acres (200 hectares). Thus, the PRRA reversed the growth of the island's sugarcane industry, and many Puerto Ricans sought to return to their small farms. The program provoked open opposition by the sugarcane companies, which were strongly represented in the Republican Party, but the Socialists tacitly accepted the program. The strongest local proponent of the economic reforms was Luis Muñoz Marín (Muñoz Marín, Luis), son of Luis Muñoz Rivera, who led a group of young radicals.

      Two unconnected factors jeopardized the success of the New Deal program. First, the PRRA objectives were curtailed by administrative and financial problems, and the agency was unable to readjust completely the island's economic structure. The second factor was related to a rise in violence by the Nationalists: the U.S. government, in order to counter the damage caused by the Nationalists, interjected the issue of Puerto Rican status on the political scene. The offer of independence, made when the island was facing adverse economic conditions, served to realign the political parties into pro- and anti-independence groups and again distracted them from pressing economic issues.

      Prior to the election of 1940, attention was again focused on the economy, and Muñoz Marín helped form a new party, the Popular Democratic Party (Partido Popular Democrático; PPD), to promote it as an issue. The PPD aimed to improve the conditions of the lower classes, particularly the hardworking jíbaros of the mountainous interior, under the slogan “Bread, land, and liberty.” A large part of the electorate supported the PPD, which gained tenuous control over the legislature. The colonial governor, Rexford Guy Tugwell (Tugwell, Rexford Guy), allowed the PPD to initiate such economic reforms as redistributing land, enforcing labour laws (notably those regarding minimum wages and maximum hours), instituting a progressive income tax, and establishing an economic development program. The PPD partially fulfilled its aims and was overwhelmingly backed by the electorate in 1944. Two years later President Harry S. Truman (Truman, Harry S.) appointed the island's first Puerto Rican governor, Jesús T. Piñero, and in 1947 the U.S. Congress allowed Puerto Rico to elect its governors by popular vote. Muñoz Marín was elected in November of the following year, and he took office in January 1949. For more than a generation the PPD governed Puerto Rico, led mainly by Muñoz Marín during four terms as governor.

      During the period 1948–68 Puerto Rico experienced a major economic change, shifting from agricultural dominance to an economy based on industrial production, largely through Operation Bootstrap, a government program that promoted economic development and social welfare. The program initially promoted cooperative farming and labour-intensive industries, but when these efforts failed, the government invested heavily in transportation infrastructure and attracted privately owned factories through tax breaks and government-supported start-up costs. These factors, together with low wages on the island, induced hundreds of U.S. (and some European) companies to open factories there. Workers increasingly left the sugarcane and coffee fields and moved into the coastal cities where wages, working conditions, and social services were improved. However, many also migrated to large metropolitan centres in the United States.

The commonwealth
      In addition to reforming the Puerto Rican economy, the PPD modified the island's political relationship with the United States. In October 1950 President Truman signed the Puerto Rico Commonwealth Bill, which enabled the island's people to establish their own constitution. Some Puerto Ricans, notably the Nationalists, opposed the new law and resorted to violence. A handful of Nationalists unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate Governor Muñoz Marín in San Juan, and Nationalist uprisings erupted in several island towns, causing 27 deaths. In November two New York-based Nationalists tried to kill Truman in Washington, D.C.

      In 1951 Puerto Ricans overwhelmingly approved the commonwealth status in a referendum, and the island's constitution was proclaimed on July 25, 1952, a symbolic date because it was the 54th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of the island. The constitution reaffirmed the post of an elected governor, created a legislative branch in which minority representation was guaranteed, and set up a new judicial system based on civil liberties. Dissatisfaction continued to be expressed despite broad popular support for the autonomy of the commonwealth government and a rapidly modernizing industrial society. Nationalist violence broke out again on March 1, 1954, in Washington, when four Nationalists—three men and a woman—fired weapons from the viewing galleries of the House of Representatives, wounding five Congressmen.

      Legal reviews in the courts, both insular and federal, continued to enforce the commonwealth concept. At the same time, Puerto Ricans were unable to expand the limits of their autonomy to include international diplomacy, such as playing a greater role in Caribbean affairs. Sentiment in favour of statehood grew following the admission of Alaska and Hawaii to the United States, particularly because Puerto Ricans increasingly were depending on federal aid for the unemployed, elderly, and war veterans. In addition in 1959 Puerto Ricans became highly concerned over regional security and ideology following Fidel Castro's communist revolution in Cuba, and the island absorbed a sizable influx of Cuban exiles.

      Muñoz Marín stepped down in 1964 and was succeeded by his able administrative assistant Roberto Sánchez Vilella, who in November of that year became the second elected governor in the island's history. However, with the charismatic Muñoz Marín retired from the political scene, the PPD lost its firm grip on power and was fiercely opposed by pro-statehood groups. In 1968 the PPD lost control of the lower house of the legislature after a split in its ranks, and it also relinquished the governorship to Luis A. Ferré (Ferré, Luis A.), who led the pro-statehood New Progressive Party (Partido Nuevo Progresista; PNP). Since then the PPD and PNP have alternated in power.

      Puerto Rican society underwent sweeping changes during the 1960s and '70s. Agriculture lost importance, and there was rapid growth in manufacturing and in the number and size of urban and suburban settlements. In addition, cultural, political, and economic links with the United States increased as greater numbers of Puerto Ricans migrated there. The U.S. government introduced food stamps in 1974 in order to improve the diets of poorer residents, and by 1980 about three-fifths of the population was receiving the benefit.

      The PPD returned to power briefly in 1973–76 under the leadership of Rafael Hernández Colón (Hernández Colón, Rafael), a young protégé of Muñoz Marín. The pro-statehood PNP regained power in 1976 under the vigorous leadership of Carlos Romero Barceló, but Hernández Colón won back the governorship for the PPD in 1984 and served for two terms. In November 1992 Pedro Rossello, a medical doctor, led the pro-statehood PNP to another electoral victory, and he was reelected governor in 1996. However, a series of corruption scandals soon caused the PNP to lose support. In November 2000 the mayor of San Juan, Sila Calderón of the pro-commonwealth PPD, was elected as Puerto Rico's first woman governor.

The debate over political status
      In 1952, after Puerto Rico was granted commonwealth status, the United States advised the United Nations (UN) that the island was a self-governing territory. However, dissatisfaction with the island's political status continued. A commission appointed by the U.S. Congress concluded that three options—commonwealth, statehood, or independence—should be considered in a plebiscite, which was held in July 1967. The majority PPD supported the plebiscite, but it was boycotted by the pro-statehood and independence parties. The result showed that 60.4 percent of the electorate supported commonwealth status, 38.9 percent statehood, and 0.6 percent independence. Both the leaders of the PPD and influential members of the U.S. federal government agreed that the commonwealth relationship needed to be improved and the degree of self-government broadened. However, no other action was taken, partly because political power on the island began to alternate between pro-commonwealth and pro-statehood parties.

      After the pro-statehood PNP swept to victory in the 1992 gubernatorial elections, it pushed for a second plebiscite, which was held in November 1993 with nearly three-fourths of the 2.2 million eligible voters taking part; the pro-commonwealth option won by a plurality of 48.6 percent, followed by 46.3 percent for statehood and 4 percent for independence.

      When the PNP governor won a second term in 1996, the party mounted a campaign to hold still another plebiscite; however, the PPD, protesting that the definition of commonwealth on the ballot was inadequate, urged its followers to vote for “none of the above.” In the December 1998 plebiscite, the “none of the above” option won a majority of 50.3 percent of the vote, followed by 46.6 percent for statehood and 2.5 percent for independence—marking the third time in three decades that statehood had been rebuffed by Puerto Rican voters.

      In July 1999 Governor Pedro Rosselló urged the UN decolonization committee to intervene by putting Puerto Rico back on the list of non-self-governing territories. Until that time, only pro-independence groups had actively lobbied at the UN, decrying Puerto Rico's “colonial” status. Now, pro-statehood activists were joining the effort, out of frustration with Washington's apparent reluctance to either embrace statehood or expand Puerto Rico's autonomous powers.

      Washington policymakers, in turn, have highlighted the Puerto Ricans' inability to reach a consensus on political status. Several members of Congress have expressed doubts about the ability of the United States to absorb a Spanish-speaking state, while others have voiced concern that statehood would sharply increase the already large amount of federal funds flowing to the island.

      The controversial issue of Vieques (Vieques Island), an island municipality of Puerto Rico, has united Puerto Ricans across party lines. The U.S. Navy, which owns two-thirds of Vieques, began military maneuvers there, including bombing practice, in the mid-20th century. Opposition to the navy's use of the island intensified after two off-target bombs killed a civilian guard on the bombing range in 1999. Protesters subsequently prevented the navy from carrying out many of its maneuvers on Vieques, and Puerto Rican officials of all three major parties cited health and environmental concerns as they lobbied for an end to military exercises there. In 2001 the U.S. government announced plans for a gradual cessation of the maneuvers.

      Few Puerto Ricans consider political status to be one of the key problems facing the commonwealth, but the island's leaders continue to push for a resolution. The vast majority of the people clearly value some form of permanent association with the United States, although Puerto Ricans fiercely embrace their language and Hispanic-American culture; some have even pointed out that, under statehood, Puerto Rico could no longer field its own teams for the Olympic Games. As the debate continues during the 21st century, striking parallels may be drawn to the period of Spanish colonial rule, when the choices of full assimilation (statehood), autonomy (commonwealth), or independence for the island were also deliberated but never fully resolved.

Thomas G. Mathews Kal Wagenheim Olga J. Wagenheim

Additional Reading

Geography
José A. Toro-Sugrañes, Almanaque puertorriqueño (1992), is a concise reference. Travel guides include Randall S. Peffer, Lonely Planet Puerto Rico (1999); and Darwin Porter and Danforth Prince, Frommer's Portable Puerto Rico (2001).Rafael Picó, The Geography of Puerto Rico (1974), offers a dated but comprehensive survey of the island's physiography and economy. Anthropological, demographic, and cultural features are discussed in Joseph P. Fitzpatrick, “Puerto Ricans,” in Stephan Thernstrom (ed.), Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (1980), pp. 858–867; Julian H. Steward et al., The People of Puerto Rico: A Study in Social Anthropology (1956, reissued 1972); and María Teresa Babín, The Puerto Ricans' Spirit: Their History, Life, and Culture (1971; originally published in Spanish, 1970). Asela Rodríguez de Laguna (ed.), Images and Identities: The Puerto Rican in Two World Contexts (1987), discusses literature and culture. The island's visual arts are discussed in Enrique García-Gutiérrez, “Puerto Rico,” in Edward J. Sullivan (ed.), Latin American Art in the Twentieth Century, pp. 119–135 (1996); and Jane Turner (ed.), The Dictionary of Art, 34 vol. (1996), which includes a survey article on Puerto Rico and several biographies. Puerto Rican music is profiled in Héctor Vega Drouet, “Puerto Rico,” in Dale A. Olsen and Daniel E. Sheehy (eds.), The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, vol. 2, pp. 932–941 (1998).The economy is examined in Robert J. Tata and David R. Lee, “Puerto Rico: Dilemmas of Growth,” Focus 28(2):1–10 (November–December 1977); United States Department of Commerce, Economic Study of Puerto Rico: Report to the President, 2 vol. (1979); and James L. Dietz, Economic History of Puerto Rico: Institutional Change and Capitalist Development (1986).

History
Comprehensive histories are Kal Wagenheim, Puerto Rico: A Profile, 2nd ed. (1975); and Kal Wagenheim and Olga Jiménez de Wagenheim (eds.), The Puerto Ricans: A Documentary History (1973, reissued 1994). Other historical studies include Arturo Morales Carrión et al., Puerto Rico: A Political and Cultural History (1983); Henry Wells, The Modernization of Puerto Rico: A Political Study of Changing Values and Institutions (1969); Thomas Mathews, Puerto Rican Politics and the New Deal (1960, reprinted 1976); Arturo Morales Carrión, Puerto Rico and the Non Hispanic Caribbean: A Study in the Decline of Spanish Exclusivism, 3rd ed. (1974), with an analysis of the development of trade and commerce; and Olga Jiménez de Wagenheim, Puerto Rico: An Interpretive History from Pre-Columbian Times to 1900 (1998).Kal Wagenheim Olga J. Wagenheim

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

  • PUERTO RICO — PUERTO RICO, island in the Caribbean 1,000 miles southeast of Miami. In 2005 there were 1,500–2,000 Jews in Puerto Rico among its population of 4,000,000. The Jewish experience in America begins with the actual Discovery in 1492. The first Jews… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Puerto Rico —     Porto Rico     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Porto Rico     (PUERTO RICO)     The smallest and most easterly of the Greater Antilles, rectangular in shape, with an area of 3670 square miles, and the most densely inhabited country in America,… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Puerto Rico — (homonymie) Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Puerto Rico est le nom officiel, en espagnol, de l île de Porto Rico (nom anglais). Puerto Rico est un jeu de société de stratégie. Puerto… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Puerto Rico — V. Porto Rico. Porto Rico ou Puerto Rico la plus orientale des Grandes Antilles, formant, avec ses dépendances (Mona, Culebra, Vieques), un état libre associé aux È. U.; 8 897 km²; env. 3 400 000 hab. (Portoricains); cap. San Juan. Langue off.:… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Puerto Rico — Spanish, lit. rich harbor; the name given in 1493 by Chrstopher Columbus to the larege bay on the north side of the island; he called the island San Juan. Over time the name of the bay became the name of the island and the name of the island was… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico, so v.w. Porto Rico …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Puërto Rico — Puërto Rico, Insel, s. Porto Rico …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Puerto Rico — [pwer΄tə rē′kō, pôr΄tə rē′kō] [Sp, lit., rich port] island in the West Indies which, with small nearby islands, constitutes a commonwealth associated with the U.S.: 3,425 sq mi (8,870 sq km); pop. 3,809,000; cap. San Juan: abbrev. PR or P.R.… …   English World dictionary

  • Puërto Rico — Puërto Rico, Insel, s. Portoriko …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.