Puerto Rico

Coordinates: 18°12′N 66°30′W / 18.2°N 66.5°W / 18.2; -66.5 (Commonwealth of Puerto Rico)
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Puerto Rico
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico[b]
Free Associated State of Puerto Rico
Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico (Spanish)
Ethnic groups
By race:
By ethnicity:
USPS abbreviation
ISO 3166 code
Internet TLD.pr

Puerto Rico

official languages of the executive branch of government,[14] though Spanish predominates.[15]

Puerto Rico was settled by a succession of peoples beginning 2,000 to 4,000 years ago;

African slaves and settlers primarily from the Canary Islands and Andalusia vastly changed the cultural and demographic landscape of the island. Within the Spanish Empire, Puerto Rico played a secondary but strategic role compared to wealthier colonies like Peru and New Spain.[17][18] By the late 19th century, a distinct Puerto Rican identity began to emerge, centered around a fusion of indigenous, African, and European elements.[19][20] In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, Puerto Rico was acquired by the United States.[12][21]

Resident Commissioner, and participates in presidential primaries; as it is not a state, Puerto Rico does not have a vote in Congress, which governs it under the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act of 1950. Congress approved a local constitution in 1952, allowing U.S. citizens residing on the island to elect a governor. Puerto Rico's current and future political status has consistently been a matter of significant debate.[26][27]

Beginning in the mid-20th century, the

high-income economy;[28] it ranks 40th on the Human Development Index. The major sectors of Puerto Rico's economy are manufacturing (primarily pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and electronics) followed by services (namely tourism and hospitality).[29]


Puerto Rico is Spanish for "rich port".

Puerto Ricans often call the island Borinquen, a derivation of Borikén, its indigenous Taíno name, which is popularly said to mean "Land of the Valiant Lord".[30][31][32] The terms boricua, borinqueño, and borincano are commonly used to identify someone of Puerto Rican heritage,[33][34] and derive from Borikén and Borinquen respectively.[35] The island is also popularly known in Spanish as La Isla del Encanto, meaning "the island of enchantment".[36]

Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of Saint John the Baptist, while the capital city was named Ciudad de Puerto Rico ("Rich Port City").[12] Eventually traders and other maritime visitors came to refer to the entire island as Puerto Rico, while San Juan became the name used for the main trading/shipping port and the capital city.[d]

The island's name was changed to Porto Rico by the United States after the

Treaty of Paris of 1898.[38] The anglicized name was used by the U.S. government and private enterprises. The name was changed back to Puerto Rico in 1931 by a joint resolution in Congress introduced by Félix Córdova Dávila.[39][e][44][45][46]

The official name of the entity in Spanish is

Associated State of Puerto Rico"), while its official English name is Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.[12]


Pre-Columbian era

A 20th-century reconstruction of an 8th-century Taíno village, located at the spot where their ballpark and remains were discovered in 1975, in the aftermath of Hurricane Eloise[47]

The ancient history of the archipelago which is now Puerto Rico is not well known. Unlike other indigenous cultures in the New World (

Inca) which left behind abundant archeological and physical evidence of their societies, scant artifacts and evidence remain of the Puerto Rico's earliest population. Scarce archaeological findings and early Spanish accounts from the colonial era constitute all that is known about them. The first comprehensive book on the history of Puerto Rico was written by Fray Íñigo Abbad y Lasierra in 1786, nearly three centuries after the first Spaniards landed on the island.[48]

The first known settlers were the Casimiroid. They were followed by the relatively more well-known

Archaic Period culture of Amerindian hunters and fishermen who migrated from the South American mainland. Some scholars suggest Ortoiroid settlement dates back about 4,000 years.[49] An archeological dig in 1990 on the island of Vieques found the remains of a man, designated as the Puerto Ferro Man, which was dated to around 2000 BC.[50] The Ortoiroid were displaced by the Saladoid, a culture from the same region that arrived on the island between 430 and 250 BCE.[49]

The Igneri tribe migrated to Puerto Rico between 120 and 400 AD from the region of the Orinoco river in northern South America. The Archaic and Igneri cultures clashed and co-existed on the island between the 4th and 10th centuries.[51]

Between the 7th and 11th centuries, the

Agüeybaná, inhabited the island. They called it Boriken, popularly said to mean "the great land of the valiant and noble Lord".[52] The natives lived in small villages, each led by a cacique. They subsisted by hunting and fishing, done generally by men, as well as by the women's gathering and processing of indigenous cassava root and fruit. This lasted until Columbus arrived in 1493.[53][54]

Spanish colony (1493–1898)

Artist's depiction of Juan Ponce de León, Puerto Rico's first governor

Conquest and early settlement


governor of the island.[g]
Eventually, traders and other maritime visitors came to refer to the entire island as Puerto Rico, and San Juan became the name of the main trading and shipping port city.

At the beginning of the 16th century, Spanish people began to colonize the island. Despite the

Colonization under the Habsburgs

1625 attack on San Juan by Boudewijn Hendricksz

In 1520,

Enslaved Africans had already begun to be imported to compensate for the native labor loss, but their numbers were proportionate to the diminished commercial interest Spain soon began to demonstrate for the island colony. Other nearby islands, like Cuba, Hispaniola, and Guadalupe, attracted more of the slave trade than Puerto Rico, probably because of greater agricultural interests in those islands, on which colonists had developed large sugar plantations and had the capital to invest in the Atlantic slave trade.[64]

The colonial administration relied heavily on the industry of enslaved Africans and creole blacks for public works and defenses, primarily in coastal ports and cities, where the tiny colonial population had hunkered down. With no significant industries or large-scale agricultural production as yet, enslaved and free communities lodged around the few littoral settlements, particularly around San Juan, also forming lasting

Walled City". The islet is still dotted with various forts and walls, such as La Fortaleza, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, and Castillo San Cristóbal, designed to protect the population and the strategic Port of San Juan
from the raids of the European competitors and corsairs.

In 1625, in the Battle of San Juan, the Dutch commander Boudewijn Hendricksz tested the defenses' limits like no one else before. Learning from Francis Drake's previous failures here, he circumvented the cannons of the castle of San Felipe del Morro and quickly brought his 17 ships into the San Juan Bay. He then occupied the port and attacked the city while the population hurried for shelter behind El Morro's moat and high battlements. Historians consider this event the worst attack on San Juan. Though the Dutch set the village on fire, they failed to conquer El Morro, and its batteries pounded their troops and ships until Hendricksz deemed the cause lost. Hendricksz's expedition eventually helped propel a fortification frenzy. Constructions of defenses for the San Cristóbal Hill were soon ordered so as to prevent the landing of invaders out of reach of El Morro's artillery. Urban planning responded to the needs of keeping the colony in Spanish hands.

Late colonial period

Sugar haciendas, like the one depicted above, ran a significant portion of the Puerto Rican economy in the late 19th century.

During the late 16th and early 17th centuries, Spain concentrated its colonial efforts on the more prosperous mainland North, Central, and South American colonies. With the advent of the lively Bourbon Dynasty in Spain in the 1700s, the island of Puerto Rico began a gradual shift to more imperial attention. More roads began connecting previously isolated inland settlements to coastal cities, and coastal settlements like Arecibo, Mayagüez and Ponce began acquiring importance of their own, separate from San Juan. By the end of the 18th century, merchant ships from an array of nationalities threatened the tight regulations of the Mercantilist system, which turned each colony solely toward the European metropole and limited contact with other nations. U.S. ships came to surpass Spanish trade and with this also came the exploitation of the island's natural resources. Slavers, which had made but few stops on the island before, began selling more enslaved Africans to growing sugar and coffee plantations. The increasing number of Atlantic wars in which the Caribbean islands played major roles, like the War of Jenkins' Ear, the Seven Years' War and the Atlantic Revolutions, ensured Puerto Rico's growing esteem in Madrid's eyes. On 17 April 1797, Sir Ralph Abercromby's fleet invaded the island with a force of 6,000–13,000 troops,[65] which included German soldiers and Royal Marines and 60 to 64 ships. Fierce fighting continued for the next days with Spanish troops. Both sides suffered heavy losses. On Sunday 30 April the British ceased their attack and began their retreat from San Juan. By the time independence movements in the larger Spanish colonies gained success, new waves of loyal European-born immigrants began to arrive in Puerto Rico, helping to tilt the island's political balance toward the Crown.

The 16th-century Spanish colonial-era Castle San Felipe del Morro, in San Juan

In 1809, to secure its political bond with the island and in the midst of the European

Ferdinand VII. Immigration and commercial trade reforms in the 19th century increased the island's ethnic European population and economy and expanded the Spanish cultural and social imprint on the local character of the island.[66]

Minor slave revolts had occurred on the island throughout the years, with the revolt planned and organized by Marcos Xiorro in 1821 being the most important. Even though the conspiracy was unsuccessful, Xiorro achieved legendary status and is part of the folklore of Puerto Rico.[67]

Politics of liberalism

The flag flown by Fidel Vélez and his troops during the Intentona de Yauco revolt of 1897.

In the early 19th century, Puerto Rico spawned an independence movement that, due to harsh persecution by the Spanish authorities, convened in the neighboring island of St. Thomas. The movement was largely inspired by the ideals of Simón Bolívar in establishing a United Provinces of New Granada and Venezuela, that included Puerto Rico and Cuba. Among the influential members of this movement were Brigadier General Antonio Valero de Bernabé and María de las Mercedes Barbudo. The movement was discovered, and Governor Miguel de la Torre had its members imprisoned or exiled.[68]

With the increasingly rapid growth of independent former Spanish colonies in the South and Central American states in the first part of the 19th century, the Spanish Crown considered Puerto Rico and Cuba of strategic importance. To increase its hold on its last two New World colonies, the Spanish Crown revived the Royal Decree of Graces of 1815 as a result of which 450,000 immigrants, mainly Spaniards, settled on the island in the period up until the American conquest. Printed in three languages—Spanish, English, and French—it was intended to also attract non-Spanish Europeans, with the hope that the independence movements would lose their popularity if new settlers had stronger ties to the Crown. Hundreds of non-Spanish families, mainly from Corsica, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Scotland, also immigrated to the island.[69]

Free land was offered as an incentive to those who wanted to populate the two islands, on the condition that they swear their loyalty to the Spanish Crown and allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church.[69] The offer was very successful, and European immigration continued even after 1898. Puerto Rico still receives Spanish and European immigration.

The Lares revolutionary flag of 1868, also known as the "First Puerto Rican Flag" in Puerto Rico

Poverty and political estrangement with Spain led to a small but significant uprising in 1868 known as Grito de Lares. It began in the rural town of Lares but was subdued when rebels moved to the neighboring town of San Sebastián. Leaders of this independence movement included Ramón Emeterio Betances, considered the Father of the Puerto Rican independence movement, and other political figures such as Segundo Ruiz Belvis. Slavery was abolished in Puerto Rico in 1873, "with provisions for periods of apprenticeship".[70]

Monument commemorating the 1873 abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico, located in Ponce

Leaders of Grito de Lares went into exile to New York City. Many joined the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Committee, founded on 8 December 1895, and continued their quest for Puerto Rican independence. In 1897, Antonio Mattei Lluberas and the local leaders of the independence movement in Yauco organized another uprising, which became known as the Intentona de Yauco. They raised what they called the Puerto Rican flag, which was adopted as the national flag. The local conservative political factions opposed independence. Rumors of the planned event spread to the local Spanish authorities who acted swiftly and put an end to what would be the last major uprising in the island to Spanish colonial rule.[71]

In 1897, Luis Muñoz Rivera and others persuaded the liberal Spanish government to agree to grant limited self-government to the island by royal decree in the Autonomic Charter, including a bicameral legislature.[72][self-published source?] In 1898, Puerto Rico's first, but short-lived, autonomous government was organized as an "overseas province"[citation needed] of Spain. This bilaterally agreed-upon charter maintained a governor appointed by the King of Spain—who held the power to annul any legislative decision[citation needed]—and a partially elected parliamentary structure. In February, Governor-General Manuel Macías inaugurated the new government under the Autonomic Charter. General elections were held in March and the new government began to function on 17 July 1898.[73][self-published source?][74][self-published source?][75]

Spanish–American War

Artistic rendering of the 1898 Bombardment of San Juan by American forces during the Spanish–American War

In 1890, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, a member of the Navy War Board and leading U.S. strategic thinker, published a book titled The Influence of Sea Power upon History in which he argued for the establishment of a large and powerful navy modeled after the British Royal Navy. Part of his strategy called for the acquisition of colonies in the Caribbean, which would serve as coaling and naval stations. They would serve as strategic points of defense with the construction of a canal through the Isthmus of Panama, to allow easier passage of ships between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.[76]

The first company of Puerto Ricans enlisted in the U.S. Army, within a year of the U.S. invasion.

William H. Seward, the Secretary of State under presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson, had also stressed the importance of building a canal in Honduras, Nicaragua or Panama. He suggested that the United States annex the Dominican Republic and purchase Puerto Rico and Cuba. The U.S. Senate did not approve his annexation proposal, and Spain rejected the U.S. offer of 160 million dollars for Puerto Rico and Cuba.[76]

Since 1894, the United States Naval War College had been developing contingency plans for a war with Spain. By 1896, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence had prepared a plan that included military operations in Puerto Rican waters. Plans generally centered on attacks on Spanish territories were intended as support operations against Spain's forces in and around Cuba.[77] Recent research suggests that the U.S. did consider Puerto Rico valuable as a naval station and recognized that it and Cuba generated lucrative crops of sugar, a valuable commercial commodity which the United States lacked prior to the development of the sugar beet industry in the United States.[78]

On 25 July 1898, during the Spanish–American War, the U.S. invaded Puerto Rico with a landing at Guánica. After the U.S. prevailed in the war, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, along with the Philippines and Guam, to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris, which went into effect on 11 April 1899; Spain relinquished sovereignty over Cuba, but did not cede it to the U.S.[79]

American territory (1898–present)

U.S. unincorporated organized territory

The United States and Puerto Rico began a long-standing metropolis-colony relationship.

Juan Torruella,[81] U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez,[82] Chief Justice of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court José Trías Monge,[83] and former Albizu University president Ángel Collado-Schwarz.[84][l]

In the early 20th century, Puerto Rico was ruled by the U.S. military, with officials including the governor appointed by the president of the United States. The Foraker Act of 1900 gave Puerto Rico a certain amount of civilian popular government, including a popularly elected House of Representatives. The upper house and governor were appointed by the United States.

The first Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, appointed pursuant to the Foraker Act

Its judicial system was reformed[citation needed] to bring it into conformity with the American federal courts system; a Puerto Rico Supreme Court[citation needed] and a United States District Court for the unincorporated territory were established. It was authorized a nonvoting member of Congress, by the title of "Resident Commissioner", who was appointed. In addition, this Act extended all U.S. laws "not locally inapplicable" to Puerto Rico, specifying, in particular, exemption from U.S. Internal Revenue laws.[89]

The Act empowered the civil government to legislate on "all matters of legislative character not locally inapplicable", including the power to modify and repeal any laws then in existence in Puerto Rico, though the U.S. Congress retained the power to annul acts of the Puerto Rico legislature.[89][90] During an address to the Puerto Rican legislature in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt recommended that Puerto Ricans become U.S. citizens.[89][91]

In 1914, the Puerto Rican House of Delegates voted unanimously in favor of independence from the United States, but this was rejected by the U.S. Congress as "unconstitutional", and in violation of the 1900 Foraker Act.[92]

U.S. citizenship and Puerto Rican citizenship

In 1917, the U.S. Congress passed the Jones–Shafroth Act (popularly known as the Jones Act), which granted Puerto Ricans born on or after 25 April 1898 U.S. citizenship.[93] Opponents, including all the Puerto Rican House of Delegates (who voted unanimously against it), claimed the U.S. imposed citizenship to draft Puerto Rican men for America's entry into World War I the same year.[92]

The Jones Act also provided for a popularly elected Senate to complete a bicameral legislative assembly, as well as a bill of rights. It authorized the popular election of the Resident Commissioner to a four-year term.

Camp Santiago
, Salinas, Puerto Rico (August 1941)

Natural disasters, including a major

Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, demanded a change in relations with the United States. He organized a protest at the University of Puerto Rico in 1935, in which four were killed
by police.

In 1936, U.S. senator Millard Tydings introduced a bill supporting independence for Puerto Rico; he had previously co-sponsored the Tydings–McDuffie Act, which provided independence to the Philippines following a 10-year transition period of limited autonomy. While virtually all Puerto Rican political parties supported the bill, it was opposed by Luis Muñoz Marín of the Liberal Party of Puerto Rico,[95] leading to its defeat[95]

In 1937, Albizu Campos' party organized a protest in

National Guard, opened fire upon unarmed cadets and bystanders alike.[96] The attack on unarmed protesters was reported by U.S. Congressman Vito Marcantonio and confirmed by a report from the Hays Commission, which investigated the events, led by Arthur Garfield Hays, counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union.[96] Nineteen people were killed and over 200 were badly wounded, many shot in the back while running away.[97][98] The Hays Commission declared it a massacre and police mob action,[97] and it has since become known as the Ponce massacre. In the aftermath, on 2 April 1943, Tydings introduced another bill in Congress calling for independence for Puerto Rico, though it was again defeated.[89]

During the latter years of the RooseveltTruman administrations, the internal governance of the island was changed in a compromise reached with Luis Muñoz Marín and other Puerto Rican leaders. In 1946, President Truman appointed the first Puerto Rican-born governor, Jesús T. Piñero.

Since 2007, the

Puerto Rican citizenship
to Puerto Rican residents. In order to be eligible, applicants must have been born in Puerto Rico, born outside of Puerto Rico to a Puerto Rican-born parent, or be an American citizen with at least one year of residence in Puerto Rico.

U.S. unincorporated organized territory with commonwealth constitution

In 1947, the U.S. Congress passed the Elective Governor Act, signed by President Truman, allowing Puerto Ricans to vote for their own governor. The first elections under this act were held the following year, on 2 November 1948.

On 21 May 1948, a bill was introduced before the

Puerto Rican Senate which would restrain the rights of the independence and Nationalist movements on the island. The Senate, controlled by the Partido Popular Democrático (PPD) and presided by Luis Muñoz Marín, approved the bill that day.[99] This bill, which resembled the anti-communist Smith Act passed in the United States in 1940, became known as the Ley de la Mordaza (Gag Law) when the U.S.-appointed governor of Puerto Rico, Jesús T. Piñero, signed it into law on 10 June 1948.[100]

Under this new law, it would be a crime to print, publish, sell, or exhibit any material intended to paralyze or destroy the insular government; or to organize any society, group or assembly of people with a similar destructive intent. It made it illegal to sing a patriotic song and reinforced the 1898 law that had made it illegal to display the flag of Puerto Rico, with anyone found guilty of disobeying the law in any way being subject to a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment, a fine of up to US$10,000 (equivalent to $122,000 in 2022), or both.[m][102]

According to Dr

Freedom of Speech. He asserted that the law as such was a violation of the civil rights of the people of Puerto Rico. The law was repealed in 1957.[103]

In the November 1948 election, Luis Muñoz Marín became the first popularly elected governor of Puerto Rico, replacing U.S.-appointed Piñero on 2 January 1949.

U.S. 65th Infantry Regiment, made up of Puerto Rican troops, against a Chinese division during the Korean War

Estado Libre Asociado

In 1950, the U.S. Congress granted Puerto Ricans the right to organize a

, until then celebrated as an annual Puerto Rico holiday.

Puerto Rico adopted the name of

Commonwealth, for its body politic.[n][105][106] Congress would continue governing fundamental aspects of Puerto Rican society, including citizenship, currency, the postal service, foreign policy, military defense, commerce and finance, and other matters.[107]

In 1967 Puerto Rico's Legislative Assembly polled the political preferences of the Puerto Rican electorate by passing a

plebiscite act that provided for a vote on the status of Puerto Rico. This constituted the first plebiscite by the Legislature for a choice among three status options (commonwealth, statehood, and independence). In subsequent plebiscites organized by Puerto Rico held in 1993 and 1998 (without any formal commitment on the part of the U.S. government to honor the results), the current political status failed to receive majority support. In 1993, Commonwealth status won by a plurality of votes (48.6% versus 46.3% for statehood), while the "none of the above" option, which was the Popular Democratic Party-sponsored choice, won in 1998 with 50.3% of the votes (versus 46.5% for statehood). Disputes arose as to the definition of each of the ballot alternatives, and Commonwealth advocates, among others, reportedly urged a vote for "none of the above".[108][109][110]

In 1950, the U.S. Congress approved Public Law 600 (P.L. 81-600), which allowed for a democratic referendum in Puerto Rico to determine whether Puerto Ricans desired to draft their own local constitution.[111] This Act was meant to be adopted in the "nature of a compact". It required congressional approval of the Puerto Rico Constitution before it could go into effect, and repealed certain sections of the Organic Act of 1917. The sections of this statute left in force were entitled the Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act.[112][113] U.S. Secretary of the Interior Oscar L. Chapman, under whose Department resided responsibility of Puerto Rican affairs, clarified the new commonwealth status in this manner:

The bill (to permit Puerto Rico to write its own constitution) merely authorizes the people of Puerto Rico to adopt their own constitution and to organize a local government...The bill under consideration would not change Puerto Rico's political, social, and economic relationship to the United States.[114][115]

External videos
video icon Puerto Rico, U.S. Embassy in Vienna, 24 October 2014
video icon View newsreel scenes in Spanish of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party Revolts of the 1950s on

On 30 October 1950, Pedro Albizu Campos and other nationalists led a three-day revolt against the United States in various cities and towns of Puerto Rico, in what is known as the

Utuado Uprising culminated in what is known as the Utuado massacre. Albizu Campos served many years in a federal prison in Atlanta, for seditious conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government in Puerto Rico.[116]

On 1 November 1950, Puerto Rican nationalists from New York City,

attempted to assassinate President Harry S. Truman at his temporary residence of Blair House. Torresola was killed during the attack, but Collazo was wounded and captured. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death, but President Truman commuted his sentence to life. After Collazo served 29 years in a federal prison, President Jimmy Carter commuted his sentence to time served and he was released in 1979.

Chart demonstrating how the economy of Puerto Rico shifted from agriculture to manufacturing
. It shows how the salaried employees during Operation Bootstrap significantly increased manufacturing jobs (green line) while decreasing agricultural jobs (blue line).

During the 1950s and 1960s, Puerto Rico experienced rapid industrialization, due in large part to Operación Manos a la Obra (Operation Bootstrap), an offshoot of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. It was intended to transform Puerto Rico's economy from agriculture-based to manufacturing-based to provide more jobs. Puerto Rico has become a major tourist destination, as well as a global center for pharmaceutical manufacturing.[117]

21st century

On 15 July 2009, the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization approved a draft resolution calling on the government of the United States to expedite a process that would allow the Puerto Rican people to exercise fully their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.[118]

On 6 November 2012, a two-question referendum took place, simultaneous with the general elections.[119][120] The first question, voted on in August, asked voters whether they wanted to maintain the current status under the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution. 54% voted against the status quo, effectively approving the second question to be voted on in November. The second question posed three alternate status options: statehood, independence, or free association.[121] 61.16% voted for statehood, 33.34% for a sovereign free-associated state, and 5.49% for independence.[122][failed verification]

On 30 June 2016, President Barack Obama signed into law H.R. 5278: PROMESA, establishing a Control Board over the Puerto Rican government. This board will have a significant degree of federal control involved in its establishment and operations. In particular, the authority to establish the control board derives from the federal government's constitutional power to "make all needful rules and regulations" regarding U.S. territories; The president would appoint all seven voting members of the board; and the board would have broad sovereign powers to effectively overrule decisions by Puerto Rico's legislature, governor, and other public authorities.[123]

Puerto Rico held its statehood referendum during the 3 November 2020 general elections; the ballot asked one question: "Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately into the Union as a State?" The results showed that 52 percent of Puerto Rico voters answered yes.[124]


Beach and coastline at Patillas, in southeast Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico consists of the main island of Puerto Rico and various smaller islands, including

Puerta de Tierra, which are connected to the main island by bridges.[127][128]

NOAA Bathymetry Image of Puerto Rico (2020)[129]

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has an area of 5,320 square miles (13,800 km2), of which 3,420 sq mi (8,900 km2) is land and 1,900 sq mi (4,900 km2) is water.[130] Puerto Rico is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island but smaller than Connecticut. The maximum length of the main island from east to west is 110 mi (180 km), and the maximum width from north to south is 40 mi (64 km).[131] Puerto Rico is the smallest of the Greater Antilles. It is 80% of the size of Jamaica,[132] just over 18% of the size of Hispaniola and 8% of the size of Cuba, the largest of the Greater Antilles.[133]

The topography of the island is mostly mountainous with large flat areas in the northern and southern coasts. The main mountain range that crosses the island from east to west is called the

El Yunque, one of the highest in the Sierra de Luquillo at the El Yunque National Forest, with an elevation of 3,494 ft (1,065 m).[134]

Map by USGIS

Puerto Rico has 17 lakes, all man-made, and more than

50 rivers, most of which originate in the Cordillera Central.[135] Rivers in the northern region of the island are typically longer and of higher water flow rates
than those of the south, since the south receives less rain than the central and northern regions.

Puerto Rico is composed of

caverns and karst topography on the island occurs in the northern region. The oldest rocks are approximately 190 million years old (Jurassic) and are located at Sierra Bermeja in the southwest part of the island. They may represent part of the oceanic crust
and are believed to come from the Pacific Ocean realm.

Puerto Rico lies at the boundary between the

Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. On 7 January 2020,[138] the country experienced its largest earthquake since 1918,[139] estimated at magnitude 6.4.[140] Economic losses were estimated to be more than $3.1 billion.[141]

The Puerto Rico Trench, the largest and deepest trench in the Atlantic, is located about 71 mi (114 km) north of Puerto Rico at the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates.[142] It is 170 mi (270 km) long.[143] At its deepest point, named the Milwaukee Deep, it is almost 27,600 ft (8,400 m) deep.[142] The Mona Canyon, located in the Mona Passage between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, is another prominent oceanic landform with steep walls measuring between 1.25 and 2.17 miles (2-3.5 km) in height from bottom to top.[144]


Köppen climate types in Puerto Rico indicating that the island primarily has rainforest and monsoon climate types

The climate of Puerto Rico in the Köppen climate classification is mostly tropical rainforest. Temperatures are warm to hot year round, averaging near 85 °F (29 °C) in lower elevations and 70 °F (21 °C) in the mountains. Easterly trade winds pass across the island year round. Puerto Rico has a rainy season, which stretches from April into November, and a dry season stretching from December to March. The mountains of the Cordillera Central create a rain shadow and are the main cause of the variations in the temperature and rainfall that occur over very short distances. The mountains can also cause wide variation in local wind speed and direction due to their sheltering and channeling effects, adding to the climatic variation. Daily temperature changes seasonally are quite small in the lowlands and coastal areas.

Between the dry and wet seasons, there is a temperature change of around 6 °F (3.3 °C). This change is due mainly to the warm waters of the tropical Atlantic Ocean, which significantly modify cooler air moving in from the north and northwest. Coastal water temperatures during the year are about 75 °F (24 °C) in February and 85 °F (29 °C) in August. The highest temperature ever recorded was 110 °F (43 °C) at Arecibo,[145] while the lowest temperature ever recorded was 40 °F (4 °C) in the mountains at Adjuntas, Aibonito, and Corozal.[146] The average yearly precipitation is 66 in (1,676 mm).[147]


Puerto Rico experiences the

Lake Okeechobee Hurricane (also known as the San Felipe Segundo hurricane in Puerto Rico) of September 1928 is the only hurricane to make landfall as a Category 5 hurricane.[149]

In the busy

Yabucoa municipality at 10:15 UTC (6:15 am local time) as a high-end Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 155 mph (250 km/h), powerful rains and widespread flooding causing tremendous destruction, including the electrical grid, which would remain out for 4–6 months in many portions of the island.[152][153][154]

In 2019, Hurricane Dorian became the third hurricane in three years to hit Puerto Rico. The recovering infrastructure from the 2017 hurricanes, as well as new governor Wanda Vázquez Garced, were put to the test against a potential humanitarian crisis.[155][156] Tropical Storm Karen also caused impacts to Puerto Rico during 2019.[157]

Climate change

fossil fuels.[158][159]

The Puerto Rico Climate Change Council (PRCCC) noted severe changes in seven categories: air temperature, precipitation, extreme weather events, tropical storms and hurricanes, ocean acidification, sea surface temperatures, and sea level rise.[160]

Climate change also affects Puerto Rico's population, the economy, human health, and the number of people forced to migrate.

Surveys have shown[vague] climate change is a matter of concern for most Puerto Ricans.[161] The territory has enacted laws and policies concerning climate change mitigation and adaptation, including the use of renewable energy.[162] Local initiatives are working toward mitigation and adaptation goals, and international aid programs support reconstruction after extreme weather events and encourage disaster planning.[163]


Common coquí

Puerto Rico is home to three terrestrial ecoregions: Puerto Rican moist forests, Puerto Rican dry forests, and Greater Antilles mangroves.[164] Puerto Rico has two biosphere reserves recognized by the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme: Luquillo Biosphere Reserve represented by El Yunque National Forest and the Guánica Biosphere Reserve.


endemic to the archipelago number 239 plants, 16 birds and 39 amphibians/reptiles, recognized as of 1998. Most of these (234, 12 and 33 respectively) are found on the main island.[165] The 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. Most coquí species (13 of 17) live in the El Yunque National Forest,[166] the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. Forest Service system, located in the northeast of the island. It was previously known as the Caribbean National Forest. El Yunque is home to more than 240 plants, 26 of which are endemic to the island. It is also home to 50 bird species, including the critically endangered Puerto Rican amazon

In addition to El Yunque National Forest, the Puerto Rican moist forest ecoregion is represented by protected areas such as the Maricao and Toro Negro state forests. These areas are home to endangered endemic species such as the Puerto Rican boa (Chilabothrus inornatus), the Puerto Rican sharp-shinned hawk (Accipiter striatus venator), the Puerto Rican broad-winged hawk (Buteo platypterus brunnescens) and the elfin woods warbler (Setophaga angelae). The Northern Karst country of Puerto Rico is also home to one of the remaining rainforest tracts in the island, with the Río Abajo State Forest being the first focus for the reintroduction of the highly endangered Puerto Rican parrot outside of the Sierra de Luquillo.[167][168]

In the southwest, the Guánica State Forest and Biosphere Reserve contain over 600 uncommon species of plants and animals, including 48 endangered species and 16 that are endemic to Puerto Rico, and is considered a prime example of the Puerto Rican dry forest ecoregion and the best-preserved dry forest in the Caribbean.[169] Other protected dry forests in Puerto Rico can be formed within the Caribbean Islands National Wildlife Refuge complex at the Cabo Rojo, Desecheo, Culebra and Vieques National Wildlife Refuges, and in the Caja de Muertos and Mona and Monito Islands Nature Reserves.[170] Examples of endemic species found in this ecoregion are the higo chumbo (Harrisia portoricensis), the Puerto Rican crested toad (Peltophryne lemur), and the Mona ground iguana (Cyclura stejnegeri), the largest land animal native to Puerto Rico.[171]

Puerto Rico has three of the seven year-long bioluminescent bays in the Caribbean: Laguna Grande in Fajardo, La Parguera in Lajas and Puerto Mosquito in Vieques. These are unique bodies of water surrounded by mangroves that inhabited by the dinoflagellate Pyrodinium bahamense.[172][173] However, tourism, pollution, and hurricanes have highly threatened these unique ecosystems.[174]


Historical population
1765–2020 (*1899 shown as 1900)[175][7]

The population of Puerto Rico has been shaped by initial Amerindian settlement, European colonization, slavery, economic migration, and Puerto Rico's status as unincorporated territory of the United States.

Population makeup

Racial and Ethnic Composition in Puerto Rico (2020 Census)[3]
Two or more races
American Indian
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander
Other races

Puerto Rico was 98.9% Hispanic or Latino in 2020, of that 95.5% were

2010 United States Census.[7] The commonwealth's population peaked in 2000, when it was 3,808,610, before declining (for the first time in census history) to 3,725,789 in 2010.[177] Emigration due to economic difficulties and natural disasters, coupled with a low birth rate, have caused the population decline to continue in recent years.[178]

Censuses of Puerto Rico were completed by Spain in 1765, 1775, 1800, 1815, 1832, 1846 and 1857, yet some of the data remained untabulated and was not considered to reliable, according to Irene Barnes Taeuber, an American demographer who worked for the Office of Population Research at Princeton University.[179]

Continuous European immigration and high

slaves.[180] A census in 1887 found a population of around 800,000, of which 320,000 were black.[181]

Population age pyramid of Puerto Rico in 2020.

During the 19th century, hundreds of families arrived in Puerto Rico, primarily from the

Italy. This immigration from non-Hispanic countries was the result of the Real Cédula de Gracias de 1815 (Royal Decree of Graces of 1815
), which allowed European Catholics to settle in the island with land allotments in the interior of the island, provided they paid taxes and continued to support the Catholic Church.

Between 1960 and 1990, the census questionnaire in Puerto Rico did not ask about race or ethnicity. The

2000 United States Census
included a racial self-identification question in Puerto Rico. According to the census, most Puerto Ricans identified as white and Latino; few identified as black or some other race.

Population genetics

Population density, Census 2000

A group of researchers from Puerto Rican universities conducted a study of mitochondrial DNA that revealed that the modern population of Puerto Rico has a high genetic component of Taíno and Guanche (especially of the island of Tenerife).[182] Other studies show Amerindian ancestry in addition to the Taíno.[183][184][185][186]

One genetic study on the racial makeup of Puerto Ricans (including all races) found them to be roughly around 61%

Sub-Saharan African and 11% Native American.[187] Another genetic study, from 2007, claimed that "the average genomewide individual (i.e., Puerto Rican) ancestry proportions have been estimated as 66%, 18%, and 16%, for European, West African, and Native American, respectively."[188] Another study estimates 63.7% European, 21.2% (Sub-Saharan) African, and 15.2% Native American; European ancestry is more prevalent in the West and in Central Puerto Rico, African in Eastern Puerto Rico, and Native American in Northern Puerto Rico.[189]


A Pew Research survey indicated an adult literacy rate of 90.4% in 2012 based on data from the United Nations.[190]

Life expectancy

Puerto Rico has a life expectancy of approximately 81.0 years according to the CIA World Factbook, an improvement from 78.7 years in 2010. This means Puerto Rico has the second-highest life expectancy in the United States, if territories are taken into account.[191]

Immigration and emigration

Racial groups
Year Population White Mixed (mainly biracial white European and black African) Black Asian Other
2000 3,808,610 80.5% (3,064,862) 11.0% (418,426) 8.0% (302,933) 0.2% (7,960) 0.4% (14,429)
2010 3,725,789 75.8% (2,824,148) 11.1% (413,563) 12.4% (461,998) 0.2% (7,452) 0.6% (22,355)
2016 3,195,153 68.9% (2,201,460) n/a (n/a) 9.8% (313,125) 0.2% (6,390) 0.8% (25,561)

As of 2019, Puerto Rico was home to 100,000 permanent legal residents.

U.S. Virgin Islands. There are also large numbers of Nuyoricans and other stateside Puerto Ricans coming back, as many Puerto Ricans engage in 'circular migration'.[198]
Small numbers of non-Puerto Rican Hispanics in Puerto Rico are actually American-born migrants from the mainland United States and not recent immigrants. Most recent immigrants settle in and around the San Juan metropolitan area.

Emigration is a major part of contemporary Puerto Rican history. Starting soon after World War II, poverty, cheap airfares, and promotion by the island government caused waves of Puerto Ricans to move to the United States mainland, particularly to the northeastern states and nearby Florida.[199] This trend continued even as Puerto Rico's economy improved and its birth rate declined. Puerto Ricans continue to follow a pattern of "circular migration", with some migrants returning to the island. In recent years, the population has declined markedly, falling nearly 1% in 2012 and an additional 1% (36,000 people) in 2013 due to a falling birthrate and emigration.[200] The impact of hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017, combined with the unincorporated territory's worsening economy, led to its greatest population decline since the U.S. acquired the archipelago.

According to the 2010 Census, the number of Puerto Ricans living in the United States outside of Puerto Rico far exceeds those living in Puerto Rico. Emigration exceeds immigration. As those who leave tend to be better educated than those who remain, this accentuates the drain on Puerto Rico's economy.

Based on 1 July 2019 estimate by the

U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the Commonwealth had declined by 532,095 people since the 2010 Census data had been tabulated.[201]

Population distribution

The most populous municipality is the capital,

San Juan's metropolitan area, while the other two are located in the south (Ponce) and west (Mayagüez
) of the island.

Largest cities or towns in Puerto Rico
2020 Census[203]
Metropolitan Statistical Area
1 San Juan San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo 342,259 Carolina
San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo 185,187
3 Carolina San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo 154,815
4 Ponce Ponce 137,491
San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo 127,244
San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo 89,780
San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo 87,754
Toa Baja
San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo 75,293
Mayagüez 73,077
Trujillo Alto
San Juan-Caguas-Guaynabo 67,740



U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico is conducted in English. English is the primary language of less than 10% of the population. Spanish is the dominant language of business, education and daily life on the island, spoken by nearly 95% of the population.[207]

Out of people aged five and older, 94.3% speak only Spanish at home, 5.5% speak English, and 0.2% speak other languages.[1]

In Puerto Rico, public school instruction is conducted almost entirely in Spanish. There have been pilot programs in about a dozen of the over 1,400 public schools aimed at conducting instruction in English only. Objections from teaching staff are common, perhaps because many of them are not fully fluent in English.

Puerto Rican Sign Language

The Spanish of Puerto Rico has evolved into having many idiosyncrasies in vocabulary and syntax that differentiate it from the Spanish spoken elsewhere. As a product of Puerto Rican history, the island possesses a unique Spanish dialect. Puerto Rican Spanish utilizes many Taíno words, as well as English words. The largest influence on the Spanish spoken in Puerto Rico is that of the Canary Islands. Taíno loanwords are most often used in the context of vegetation, natural phenomena, and native musical instruments. Similarly, words attributed to primarily West African languages were adopted in the contexts of foods, music, and dances, particularly in coastal towns with concentrations of descendants of Sub-Saharan Africans.[209]


Religious affiliation in Puerto Rico (2014)[210][211]



the Americas.[215][216]

Pollster Pablo Ramos stated in 1998 that the population was 38% Roman Catholic, 28% Pentecostal, and 18% were members of independent churches, which would give a Protestant percentage of 46% if the last two populations are combined. Protestants collectively added up to almost two million people. Another researcher gave a more conservative assessment of the proportion of Protestants:

Puerto Rico, by virtue of its long political association with the United States, is the most Protestant of Latin American countries, with a Protestant population of approximately 33 to 38 percent, the majority of whom are

Pentecostal. David Stoll calculates that if we extrapolate the growth rates of evangelical churches from 1960 to 1985 for another twenty-five years Puerto Rico will become 75 percent evangelical. (Ana Adams: "Brincando el Charco..." in Power, Politics and Pentecostals in Latin America, Edward Cleary, ed., 1997. p. 164).[217]

An Associated Press article in March 2014 stated that "more than 70 percent of whom identify themselves as Catholic" but provided no source for this information.[218]


CIA World Factbook reports that 85% of the population of Puerto Rico identifies as Roman Catholic, while 15% identify as Protestant and Other. Neither a date or a source for that information is provided and may not be recent.[219] A 2013 Pew Research survey found that only about 45% of Puerto Rican adults identified themselves as Catholic, 29% as Protestant and 20% as unaffiliated with a religion. The people surveyed by Pew consisted of Puerto Ricans living in the 50 states and DC and may not be indicative of those living in the Commonwealth.[220]

Cathedral of San Juan
, built between 1535 and 1802.

By 2014, a Pew Research report, with the sub-title Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region, indicated that only 56% of Puerto Ricans were Catholic, 33% were Protestant, and 8% were unaffiliated; this survey was completed between October 2013 and February 2014.[221][190]


Pastafarian Church of Puerto Rico.[241] An ISKCON temple in Gurabo is devoted to Krishna
, with two preaching centers in the San Juan metropolitan area.


Puerto Rico has a

United States Constitution.[244]

The government of Puerto Rico is composed of three branches. The executive is headed by the

the last election held in November 2020. The judicial branch is headed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, currently Maite Oronoz Rodríguez. Members of the judiciary are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent
of the Senate.

Puerto Rico is represented in the U.S. Congress by a nonvoting delegate to the House of Representatives, the

Jenniffer González. Current congressional rules have removed the commissioner's power to vote in the Committee of the Whole, but the commissioner can vote in committee.[245]

Puerto Rican elections are governed by the

State Elections Commission of Puerto Rico.[246][247] Residents of Puerto Rico, including other U.S. citizens, cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections, but can vote in primaries. Puerto Ricans who become residents of a U.S. state or Washington, D.C.
can vote in presidential elections.

Puerto Rico has

Arecibo in 1614, Aguada in 1692 and Ponce in 1692. Increased settlement in the 18th century saw 30 more communities established, following 34 in the 19th century. Six were founded in the 20th century, the most recent being Florida in 1971.[249]

Political parties and elections

The difference between the incumbent party, the PPD, and its opponent, the PNP, was a mere 0.6% in the last election. This difference is common as the political landscape experiences political cycles between both parties, with the PPD ruling all branches of government for 36 of the past 64 years. The PNP, on the other hand, has ruled both the executive and legislative branch concurrently for 16 years. The other 12 years experienced a divided government.

Since 1952, Puerto Rico has had three main political parties: the

to make Puerto Rico a state of the United States. The PIP, in contrast, seeks a complete separation from the United States by seeking to make Puerto Rico a sovereign nation
. In terms of party strength, the PPD and PNP usually hold about 47% of the vote each while the PIP holds about 5%.

After 2007, other parties emerged on the island. The first, the

Partido del Pueblo Trabajador
(PPT; English: Working People's Party) but none obtained more than 1% of the vote.

Other non-registered parties include the



The insular legal system is a blend of civil law and the common law systems.

Puerto Rico is the only current U.S. jurisdiction whose legal system operates primarily in a language other than American English: namely,

U.S. federal courts, and litigate federal preemption issues in Puerto Rican courts.[250][original research?

statutory law to rules promulgated by the judiciary, several portions of its criminal law still reflect the influence of the California Penal Code

The judicial branch is headed by the

Puerto Rico Supreme Court, which is the only appellate court required by the Constitution. All other courts are created by the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico.[251] There is also a Federal District Court for Puerto Rico, and someone accused of a criminal act at the federal level may not be accused for the same act in a Commonwealth court, and vice versa, since Puerto Rico as an unincorporated territory lacks sovereignty separate from Congress as a state does.[252] Such a parallel accusation would constitute double jeopardy

Political status

The nature of Puerto Rico's political relationship with the U.S. is the subject of ongoing debate in Puerto Rico, the United States Congress, and the United Nations.[253] Specifically, the basic question is whether Puerto Rico should remain an unincorporated territory of the U.S., become a U.S. state, or become an independent country.[254]

The Capitol of Puerto Rico, home of the Legislative Assembly in Puerto Rico

Constitutionally, Puerto Rico is subject to the

Laws enacted at the federal level in the United States apply to Puerto Rico as well, regardless of its political status. Their residents do not have voting representation in the U.S. Congress. Puerto Rico lacks "the full sovereignty of an independent nation", for example, the power to manage its "external relations with other nations", which is held by the U.S. federal government. The Supreme Court of the United States has indicated that once the U.S. Constitution has been extended to an area (by Congress or the courts), its coverage is irrevocable. To hold that the political branches may switch the Constitution on or off at will would lead to a regime in which they, not this Court, say "what the law is".[256]

Puerto Ricans "were collectively made

U.S. citizens residing in Puerto Rico.[244][258]


compulsory draft
whensoever it has been in effect.

Though the Commonwealth government has its own tax laws, residents of Puerto Rico, contrary to a popular misconception, do pay U.S. federal taxes: customs taxes (which are subsequently returned to the Puerto Rico Treasury), import/export taxes, federal commodity taxes, social security taxes, etc. Residents pay federal payroll taxes, such as Social Security and Medicare, as well as Commonwealth of Puerto Rico income taxes. All federal employees, those who do business with the federal government, Puerto Rico-based corporations that intend to send funds to the U.S., and some others, such as Puerto Rican residents that are members of the U.S. military, and Puerto Rico residents who earned income from sources outside Puerto Rico also pay federal income taxes. In addition, because the cutoff point for income taxation is lower than that of the U.S. IRS code, and because the per-capita income in Puerto Rico is much lower than the average per-capita income on the mainland, more Puerto Rico residents pay income taxes to the local taxation authority than if the IRS code were applied to the island. This occurs because "the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico government has a wider set of responsibilities than do U.S. State and local governments."[259][260][261][262][263][264][265]

In 2009, Puerto Rico paid $3.742 billion into the

U.S. Treasury.[266] Residents of Puerto Rico pay into Social Security, and are thus eligible for Social Security benefits upon retirement. They are excluded from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and the island actually receives a smaller fraction of the Medicaid funding it would receive if it were a U.S. state.[267] Also, Medicare providers receive less-than-full state-like reimbursements for services rendered to beneficiaries in Puerto Rico, even though the latter paid fully into the system.[268]

Puerto Rico's authority to enact a criminal code derives from Congress and not from local sovereignty as with the states. Thus, individuals committing a crime can only be tried in federal or territorial court, otherwise it would constitute double jeopardy and is constitutionally impermissible.[252]

In 1992, President George H. W. Bush issued a memorandum to heads of executive departments and agencies establishing the current administrative relationship between the federal government and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. This memorandum directs all federal departments, agencies, and officials to treat Puerto Rico administratively as if it were a state, insofar as doing so would not disrupt federal programs or operations.

Many federal executive branch agencies have significant presence in Puerto Rico, just as in any state, including the

associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Puerto Ricans have also been frequently appointed to high-level federal positions, including serving as United States ambassadors
to other nations.

Foreign and intergovernmental relations

Puerto Rico is subject to the

Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution and is thus restricted on how it can engage with other nations, sharing the opportunities and limitations that state governments have albeit not being one. As is the case with state governments, it has established several trade agreements with other nations, particularly with Latin American countries such as Colombia and Panamá.[269][270]

It has also established trade promotion offices in many foreign countries, all Spanish-speaking, and within the United States itself, which now include Spain, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Colombia, Washington, D.C., New York City and Florida, and has included in the past offices in Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Such agreements require permission from the U.S. Department of State; most are simply allowed by existing laws or trade treaties between the United States and other nations which supersede trade agreements pursued by Puerto Rico and different U.S. states. Puerto Rico hosts consulates from 41 countries, mainly from the Americas and Europe, with most located in San Juan.[248]

At the local level, Puerto Rico established by law that the international relations which states and territories are allowed to engage must be handled by the

Office of the Resident Commissioner
, manages all its intergovernmental affairs before entities of or in the United States (including the federal government of the United States, local and state governments of the United States, and public or private entities in the United States).

Both entities frequently assist the Department of State of Puerto Rico in engaging with Washington, D.C.-based ambassadors and federal agencies that handle Puerto Rico's foreign affairs, such as the U.S. Department of State, the

director of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration is Jennifer M. Stopiran
also from the NPP and a member of the Republican Party of the United States.


Jenniffer González-Colón, a Republican, elected in 2016. She received more votes than any other official elected in Puerto Rico that year.[271]

Many Puerto Ricans have served as United States ambassadors to different nations and international organizations, such as the Organization of American States, mostly but not exclusively in Latin America. For example, Maricarmen Aponte, a Puerto Rican and now an acting assistant secretary of state, previously served as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador.[272]


U.S. military installations and other federal lands in Puerto Rico (including the United States Virgin Islands) throughout the 20th century

As it is an unincorporated territory of the United States, the defense of Puerto Rico is provided by the United States as part of the Treaty of Paris with the president of the United States as its commander-in-chief. Puerto Rico has its own National Guard, and its own state defense force, the Puerto Rico State Guard, which by local law is under the authority of the Puerto Rico National Guard.


Major General José J. Reyes
. The Adjutant General, in turn, delegates the authority over the State Guard to another officer but retains the authority over the Puerto Rico National Guard as a whole. U.S. military installations in Puerto Rico were part of the U.S. Atlantic Command (LANTCOM after 1993 USACOM), which had authority over all U.S. military operations that took place throughout the Atlantic. Puerto Rico had been seen as crucial in supporting LANTCOM's mission until 1999, when U.S. Atlantic Command was renamed and given a new mission as United States Joint Forces Command. Puerto Rico is currently under the responsibility of United States Northern Command.

Both the Naval Forces Caribbean (NFC) and the Fleet Air Caribbean (FAIR) were formerly based at the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station. The NFC had authority over all U.S. Naval activity in the waters of the Caribbean while FAIR had authority over all U.S. military flights and air operations over the Caribbean. With the closing of the Roosevelt Roads and Vieques Island training facilities, the U.S. Navy has basically exited from Puerto Rico, except for the ships that steam by, and the only significant military presence in the island is the

U.S. Coast Guard. Protests over the noise of bombing practice forced the closure of the naval base. This resulted in a loss of 6,000 jobs and an annual decrease in local income of $300 million.[273]

A branch of the

– which performs missions equivalent to those of the Air National Guards of each one of the U.S. states.

Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Maryland, Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, 1997

At different times in the 20th century, the U.S. had about 25 military or naval installations in Puerto Rico, some very small ones,

Fort Buchanan in San Juan, the former U.S. Air Force's Ramey Air Force Base in Aguadilla, and the Puerto Rico Air National Guard's Muñiz Air National Guard Base in San Juan.[275]

The former U.S. Navy facilities at Roosevelt Roads, Vieques, and Sabana Seca have been deactivated and partially turned over to the local government. Other than

U.S. Congress
has considered their deactivations, but these have been opposed by diverse public and private entities in Puerto Rico – such as retired military who rely on Ft. Buchanan for the services available there.

Puerto Ricans have participated in many United States military conflicts, including the

War on Terror; in 2014, it was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal
for its heroism during the Korean War.

A significant number of Puerto Ricans serve in the U.S. Armed Forces, largely as

National Guard members and civilian employees. The size of the overall military-related community is estimated to be 100,000, including retired personnel.[275] Fort Buchanan has about 4,000 military and civilian personnel. In addition, approximately 17,000 people are members of the Puerto Rico Army and Air National Guards, or the U.S. Reserve forces.[278]

Administrative divisions

A map of Puerto Rico showing its 78 municipalities; the islands of Vieques and Culebra have their own municipal governments.

Unlike the vast majority of U.S. states, Puerto Rico has no first-order administrative divisions akin to counties, but has 78 municipalities or municipios as the secondary unit of administration; for U.S. Census purposes, the municipalities are considered county equivalents. Municipalities are subdivided into barrios, and those into sectors. Each municipality has a mayor and a municipal legislature elected for four-year terms, per the Autonomous Municipalities Act of 1991.


Real GDP per capita development of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is classified as a

meetings, incentives, conferencing, exhibitions), with a modern convention center district overlooking the Port of San Juan.[281]

Responsibility for San Juan port inspections lies with PPQ.[282] So high is the volume of cargo traffic that between 1984–2000 the San Juan PPQ station recorded 7.74% of all interceptions, #4 in the country, #2 for insects and #3 for pathogens.[282] Most species are originally from South America or elsewhere in the Caribbean due to PR's position as an intermediary on the way to the mainland.[282] This is one of the worst locations for cut flowers and other plant parts – both in terms of number of problems and diversity of species – for insects in plant parts in baggage, and for pathogens in plant parts in baggage and cargo.[282] Pathogen interceptions were dramatically (17%) higher 1999–2000 than in 1985–1986.[282]

Puerto Rico's geography and political status are both determining factors for its economic prosperity, primarily due to its relatively small size; lack of natural resources and subsequent dependence on imports; and vulnerability to U.S. foreign policy and trading restrictions, particularly concerning its shipping industry.

Puerto Rico experienced a recession from 2006 to 2011, interrupted by four quarters of economic growth, and entered into recession again in 2013, following growing fiscal imbalance and the expiration of the IRS Section 936 corporate incentives that the U.S. Internal Revenue Code had applied to Puerto Rico. This IRS section was critical to the economy, as it established tax exemptions for U.S. corporations that settled in Puerto Rico and allowed their insular subsidiaries to send their earnings to the parent corporation at any time, without paying federal tax on corporate income. Puerto Rico has been able to maintain a relatively low inflation in the past decade while maintaining a purchasing power parity per capita higher than 80% of the rest of the world.[283]

Puerto Rico's GDP by economic sector

Academically, most of Puerto Rico's economic woes stem from federal regulations that expired, have been repealed, or no longer apply to Puerto Rico; its inability to become self-sufficient and self-sustainable throughout history;[q] its highly politicized public policy which tends to change whenever a political party gains power;[r] as well as its highly inefficient local government[s][t] which has accrued a public debt equal to 68% of its gross domestic product throughout time.[u][v] Puerto Rico currently has a public debt of $72.204 billion (equivalent to 103% of GNP), and a government deficit of $2.5 billion.[289][290]

By American standards, Puerto Rico is underdeveloped: It is poorer than Mississippi, the poorest state of the U.S., with 41% of its population below the

the world economy and climate


Beach in Coto, Isabela

Tourism in Puerto Rico is also an important part of the economy. In 2017, Hurricane Maria caused severe damage to the island and its infrastructure, disrupting tourism for many months. The damage was estimated at $100 billion. An April 2019 report indicated that by that time, only a few hotels were still closed, that life for tourists in and around the capital had, for the most part, returned to normal.[292] By October 2019, nearly all of the popular amenities for tourists, in the major destinations such as San Juan, Ponce and Arecibo, were in operation on the island and tourism was rebounding. This was important for the economy, since tourism provides up to 10% of Puerto Rico's GDP, according to Discover Puerto Rico.[293]

A tourism campaign was launched by Discover Puerto Rico in 2018 intended to highlight the island's culture and history, branding it distinct, and different from other Caribbean destinations. In 2019, Discover Puerto Rico planned to continue that campaign.[294]

Fiscal debt

In early 2017, the Puerto Rican government-debt crisis posed serious problems for the government which was saddled with outstanding bond debt that had climbed to $70 billion.[295] The debt had been increasing during a decade-long recession.[296]

The Commonwealth had been defaulting on many debts, including bonds, since 2015. With debt payments due, the governor was facing the risk of a government shutdown and failure to fund the managed health care system.[297][298] "Without action before April, Puerto Rico's ability to execute contracts for Fiscal Year 2018 with its managed care organizations will be threatened, thereby putting at risk beginning July 1, 2017 the health care of up to 900,000 poor U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico", according to a letter sent to Congress by the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Health and Human Services. They also said that "Congress must enact measures recommended by both Republicans and Democrats that fix Puerto Rico's inequitable health care financing structure and promote sustained economic growth."[298]

Initially, the oversight board created under PROMESA called for Puerto Rico's governor Ricardo Rosselló to deliver a fiscal turnaround plan by 28 January. Just before that deadline, the control board gave the Commonwealth government until 28 February to present a fiscal plan (including negotiations with creditors for restructuring debt) to solve the problems. A moratorium on lawsuits by debtors was extended to 31 May.[296] It is essential for Puerto Rico to reach restructuring deals to avoid a bankruptcy-like process under PROMESA.[299] An internal survey conducted by the Puerto Rican Economists Association revealed that the majority of Puerto Rican economists reject the policy recommendations of the Board and the Rosselló government, with more than 80% of economists arguing in favor of auditing the debt.[300]

In early August 2017, the island's financial oversight board (created by PROMESA) planned to institute two days off without pay per month for government employees, down from the original plan of four days per month; the latter had been expected to achieve $218 million in savings. Governor Rossello rejected this plan as unjustified and unnecessary. Pension reforms were also discussed including a proposal for a 10% reduction in benefits to begin addressing the $50 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.[301]

Public finances

Puerto Rico has an

to balance its actual budget for four decades beginning in 1973.[x][304]

The 2012 Budget of the government of Puerto Rico

Projected deficits added substantial burdens to an already indebted nation which accrued

an ongoing government-debt crisis after Puerto Rico's general obligation bonds were downgraded to speculative non-investment grade ("junk status") by three credit-rating agencies. In terms of financial control, almost 9.6%—or about $1.5 billion—of Puerto Rico's central government budget expenses for FY2014 is expected to be spent on debt service.[y] Harsher budget cuts are expected as Puerto Rico must now repay larger chunks of debts in the coming years.[needs update

For practical reasons the budget is divided into two aspects: a "general budget" which comprises the assignments funded exclusively by the

Department of Treasury of Puerto Rico, and the "consolidated budget" which comprises the assignments funded by the general budget, by Puerto Rico's government-owned corporations, by revenue expected from loans, by the sale of government bonds, by subsidies extended by the federal government of the United States
, and by other funds.

Both budgets contrast each other drastically, with the consolidated budget being usually thrice the size of the general budget; currently $29B and $9.0B respectively. Almost one out of every four dollars in the consolidated budget comes from U.S. federal subsidies while government-owned corporations compose more than 31% of the consolidated budget.

The critical aspects come from the sale of bonds, which comprise 7% of the consolidated budget – a ratio that increased annually due to the government's inability to prepare a balanced budget in addition to being incapable of generating enough income to cover all its expenses. In particular, the government-owned corporations add a heavy burden to the overall budget and public debt, as none is self-sufficient. For example, in FY2011 the government-owned corporations reported aggregated losses of more than $1.3B with the Puerto Rico Highways and Transportation Authority (PRHTA) reporting losses of $409M, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA; the government monopoly that controls all electricity on the island) reporting losses of $272M, while the Puerto Rico Aqueducts and Sewers Authority (PRASA; the government monopoly that controls all water utilities on the island) reported losses of $112M.[306]

Losses by government-owned corporations have been defrayed through the issuance of bonds compounding more than 40% of Puerto Rico's entire public debt today.[307] Holistically, from FY2000–FY2010 Puerto Rico's debt grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9% while GDP remained stagnant.[308] This has not always provided a long-term solution. In early July 2017 for example, the PREPA power authority was effectively bankrupt after defaulting in a plan to restructure $9 billion in bond debt; the agency planned to seek Court protection.[309]

In terms of protocol, the governor, together with the Puerto Rico Office of Management and Budget (OGP in Spanish), formulates the budget he believes is required to operate all government branches for the ensuing fiscal year. He then submits this formulation as a budget request to the Puerto Rican legislature before 1 July, the date established by law as the beginning of Puerto Rico's fiscal year. While the constitution establishes that the request must be submitted "at the beginning of each regular session", the request is typically submitted during the first week of May as the regular sessions of the legislature begin in January and it would be impractical to submit a request so far in advance. Once submitted, the budget is then approved by the legislature, typically with amendments, through a joint resolution and is referred back to the governor for his approval. The governor then either approves it or vetoes it. If vetoed, the legislature can then either refer it back with amendments for the governor's approval or approve it without the governor's consent by two-thirds of the bodies of each chamber.[310]

Once the budget is approved, the Department of Treasury disburses funds to the Office of Management and Budget which in turn disburses the funds to the respective agencies, while the Puerto Rico Government Development Bank (the government's intergovernmental bank) manages all related banking affairs including those related to the government-owned corporations.

Cost of living

A map of the Jones Act merchant marine shipping routes for Puerto Rico

The cost of living in Puerto Rico is high and has increased over the past decade.[z][311][312][313][314][315][316][317]

Statistics used for cost of living sometimes do not take into account certain costs, such as the high cost of electricity, which has hovered in the 24¢ to 30¢ range per kilowatt-hour, two to three times the national average, increased travel costs for longer flights, additional shipping fees, and the loss of promotional participation opportunities for customers "outside the continental United States". While some online stores do offer free shipping on orders to Puerto Rico, many merchants exclude Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico and other United States territories.

The household median income is stated as $19,350 and the mean income as $30,463 in the U.S. Census Bureau's 2015 update. The report also indicates that 45.5% of individuals are below the poverty level.[318] The median home value in Puerto Rico ranges from U.S.$100,000 to U.S.$214,000, while the national median home value sits at $119,600.[aa]

Flying into San Juan

One of the most cited contributors to the high cost of living in Puerto Rico is the

break bulk and send Puerto Rico-bound manufactured goods to Puerto Rico across the ocean by U.S.-flagged ships.[320]


U.S. Congress to exclude Puerto Rico from the Jones Act restrictions without success.[ab] The most recent measure has been taken by the 17th Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico through R. Conc. del S. 21.[322][323] These measures have always received support from all the major local political parties

In 2013 the Government Accountability Office published a report which concluded that "repealing or amending the Jones Act cabotage law might cut Puerto Rico shipping costs" and that "shippers believed that opening the trade to non-U.S.-flag competition could lower costs".[ac][ad] The same GAO report also found that "[shippers] doing business in Puerto Rico that GAO contacted reported that the freight rates are often—although not always—lower for foreign carriers going to and from Puerto Rico and foreign locations than the rates shippers pay to ship similar cargo to and from the United States, despite longer distances. Data were not available to allow us to validate the examples given or verify the extent to which this difference occurred."[325] Ultimately, the report concluded that "[the] effects of modifying the application of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico are highly uncertain" for both Puerto Rico and the United States, particularly for the U.S. shipping industry and the military preparedness of the United States.[324][325]

A 2018 study by economists at Boston-based Reeve & Associates and Puerto Rico-based Estudios Tecnicos has concluded that the 1920 Jones Act has no impact on either retail prices or the cost of livings on Puerto Rico. The study found that Puerto Rico received very similar or lower shipping freight rates when compared to neighboring islands, and that the transportation costs have no impact on retail prices on the island. The study was based in part on actual comparison of consumer goods at retail stores in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Jacksonville, Florida, finding: no significant difference in the prices of either grocery items or durable goods between the two locations.[326]


The first school in Puerto Rico was the Escuela de Gramática (Grammar School). It was established by Bishop

Cathedral of San Juan was to be constructed. The school was free of charge and the courses taught were Latin language, literature, history, science, art, philosophy and theology.[327]

Education in Puerto Rico is divided in three levels—Primary (elementary school grades 1–6), Secondary (intermediate and high school grades 7–12), and Higher Level (undergraduate and graduate studies). As of 2002, the literacy rate of the Puerto Rican population was 94.1%; by gender, it was 93.9% for males and 94.4% for females.[328] According to the 2000 Census, 60.0% of the population attained a high school degree or higher level of education, and 18.3% has a bachelor's degree or higher.

Instruction at the primary school level is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 18. As of 2010, there are 1539 public schools and 806 private schools.[329]

The largest and oldest university system is the public

Universidad del Sagrado Corazón. Puerto Rico has four schools of Medicine and three ABA
-approved Law Schools.

Public health and safety

Old Hospital Doctor Pila in Barrio Primero, Ponce city.

In 2017, there were 69 hospitals in Puerto Rico.[330]

Reforma de Salud de Puerto Rico (

impoverished, by means of contracting private health insurance companies, rather than employing government-owned hospitals and emergency centers. The Reform is administered by the Puerto Rico Health Insurance Administration.[331]


The homicide rate of 19.2 per 100,000 inhabitants was significantly higher than any U.S. state in 2014.[332][333] Most homicide victims are gang members and drug traffickers with about 80% of homicides in Puerto Rico being drug related.[334]

In 1992, the FBI made armed carjacking a federal crime and rates decreased per statistics,[335] but as of 2019, the problem continued in municipalities like Guaynabo and others.[336][337][338][339][340] From 1 January 2019 to 14 March 2019, thirty carjackings had occurred on the island.[341]


Modern Puerto Rican culture is a unique mix of cultural antecedents: including European (predominantly Spanish, Italian, French, German and Irish), African, and, more recently, some North American and many South Americans. Many Cubans and Dominicans have relocated to the island in the past few decades.

From the Spanish, Puerto Rico received the Spanish language, the

Catholic religion and the vast majority of their cultural and moral values and traditions. The United States added English-language influence, the university system and the adoption of some holidays and practices. On 12 March 1903, the University of Puerto Rico
was officially founded, branching out from the "Escuela Normal Industrial", a smaller organization that was founded in Fajardo three years earlier.

Much of Puerto Rican culture centers on the influence of music and has been shaped by other cultures combining with local and traditional rhythms. Early in the history of Puerto Rican music, the influences of Spanish and African traditions were most noticeable. The cultural movements across the Caribbean and North America have played a vital role in the more recent musical influences which have reached Puerto Rico.[342][343]

Puerto Rico has many symbols, but only the Flor de Maga has been made official by the Government of Puerto Rico.[344] Other popular, traditional, or unofficial symbols of Puerto Rico are the Puerto Rican spindalis, the kapok tree, the coquí frog, the jíbaro, the Taíno Indian, and Cerro Las Tetas with its jíbaro culture monument.[345][346]


The architecture of Puerto Rico demonstrates a broad variety of traditions, styles and national influences accumulated over four centuries of Spanish rule, and a century of American rule.

, and many other architectural forms are visible throughout the island. From town to town, there are also many regional distinctions.

Street-lined homes in Old San Juan

Old San Juan is one of the two barrios, in addition to

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, which contains the tomb of the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León
. It also houses the oldest Catholic school for elementary education in Puerto Rico, the Colegio de Párvulos, built in 1865.

The oldest parts of the district of Old San Juan remain partly enclosed by massive walls. Several defensive structures and notable

El Palacio de Santa Catalina, also known as La Fortaleza, acted as the primary defenses of the settlement which was subjected to numerous attacks. La Fortaleza continues to serve also as the executive mansion for the governor of Puerto Rico. Many of the historic fortifications are part of San Juan National Historic Site

During the 1940s, sections of Old San Juan fell into disrepair, and many renovation plans were suggested. There was even a strong push to develop Old San Juan as a "small

Cartagena de Indias

Parque de Bombas, a landmark of Ponce, a former fire station built in 1882.

Spanish Revival to Victorian.[348]


Criolla María de los Dolores Gutiérrez, in colonial Puerto Rico, in 1796, by the mulatto Rococo painter José Campeche. Painting currently housed in the Brooklyn Museum.[349]

Puerto Rican art reflects many influences, much from its ethnically diverse background. A form of folk art, called santos evolved from the Catholic Church's use of sculptures to convert indigenous Puerto Ricans to Christianity. Santos depict figures of saints and other religious icons and are made from native wood, clay, and stone. After shaping simple, they are often finished by painting them in vivid colors. Santos vary in size, with the smallest examples around eight inches tall and the largest about twenty inches tall. Traditionally, santos were seen as messengers between the earth and Heaven. As such, they occupied a special place on household altars, where people prayed to them, asked for help, or tried to summon their protection.

Also popular, caretas or vejigantes are masks worn during carnivals. Similar masks signifying evil spirits were used in both Spain and Africa, though for different purposes. The Spanish used their masks to frighten lapsed Christians into returning to the church, while tribal Africans used them as protection from the evil spirits they represented. True to their historic origins, Puerto Rican caretas always bear at least several horns and fangs. While usually constructed of papier-mâché, coconut shells and fine metal screening are sometimes used as well. Red and black were the typical colors for caretas but their palette has expanded to include a wide variety of bright hues and patterns.


Arroz con gandules, widely regarded as "Puerto Rico's national dish"[350][351][352]

Puerto Rican cuisine has its roots in the cooking traditions and practices of Europe (Spain), Africa and the native

, salted cod, beef, pork, lamb, dairy and a variety of other fruits, herbs and spices all came to Puerto Rico from Spain.


Eugenio María de Hostos

Puerto Rican literature evolved from the art of oral story telling to its present-day status. Written works by the native islanders of Puerto Rico were prohibited and repressed by the Spanish colonial government. Only those who were commissioned by the Spanish Crown to document the chronological history of the island were allowed to write.

Diego de Torres Vargas was allowed to circumvent this strict prohibition for three reasons: he was a priest, he came from a prosperous Spanish family, and his father was a Sergeant Major in the Spanish Army, who died while defending Puerto Rico from an invasion by the Dutch armada. In 1647, Torres Vargas wrote Descripción de la Ciudad e Isla de Puerto Rico ("Description of the Island and City of Puerto Rico"). This historical book was the first to make a detailed geographic description of the island.[353]

The book described all the fruits and commercial establishments of the time, mostly centered in the towns of San Juan and Ponce. The book also listed and described every mine, church, and hospital in the island at the time. The book contained notices on the State and Capital, plus an extensive and erudite bibliography. Descripción de la Ciudad e Isla de Puerto Rico was the first successful attempt at writing a comprehensive history of Puerto Rico.[353]

Some of Puerto Rico's earliest writers were influenced by the teachings of

Manuel A. Alonso, the first Puerto Rican writer of notable importance. In 1849 he published El Gíbaro, a collection of verses whose main themes were the poor Puerto Rican country farmer. Eugenio María de Hostos wrote La peregrinación de Bayoán in 1863, which used Bartolomé de las Casas
as a springboard to reflect on Caribbean identity. After this first novel, Hostos abandoned fiction in favor of the essay which he saw as offering greater possibilities for inspiring social change.

In the late 19th century, with the arrival of the first printing press and the founding of the Royal Academy of Belles Letters, Puerto Rican literature began to flourish. The first writers to express their political views in regard to Spanish colonial rule of the island were journalists. After the United States invaded Puerto Rico during the Spanish–American War and the island was ceded to the Americans as a condition of the Treaty of Paris of 1898, writers and poets began to express their opposition to the new colonial rule by writing about patriotic themes.

Taínos lived. Manuel Zeno Gandía in 1894 wrote La Charca and talked about the harsh life in the remote and mountainous coffee regions in Puerto Rico. Antonio S. Pedreira
, described in his work Insularismo the cultural survival of the Puerto Rican identity after the American invasion.

With the Puerto Rican diaspora of the 1940s, Puerto Rican literature was greatly influenced by a phenomenon known as the



newspapers, the majority of which are conducted in Spanish. There are also three stations of the U.S. Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. Newspapers with daily distribution are El Nuevo Día, El Vocero and Índice, Metro, and Primera Hora
. El Vocero is distributed free of charge, as are Índice and Metro.

Newspapers distributed on a weekly or regional basis include

Telemundo, Univision affiliate WLII-DT (Teleonce), WAPA-TV, and WKAQ-TV


A dancer performs typical bomba choreography.

The music of Puerto Rico has evolved as a heterogeneous and dynamic product of diverse cultural resources. The most conspicuous musical sources have been Spain and West Africa, although many aspects of Puerto Rican music reflect origins elsewhere in Europe and the Caribbean and, over the last century, from the U.S. Puerto Rican music culture today comprises a wide and rich variety of genres, ranging from indigenous genres like bomba, plena, aguinaldo, danza and the popular salsa to recent hybrids like reggaeton.

Puerto Rico has some national instruments, like the cuatro (Spanish for "four"). The cuatro is a local instrument that was made by the "Jibaro" or people from the mountains. Originally, the Cuatro consisted of four steel strings, hence its name, but currently the Cuatro consists of five double steel strings. It is easily confused with a guitar, even by locals. When held upright, from right to left, the strings are G, D, A, E, B.

In the realm of

Orquesta Sinfónica de Puerto Rico and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Puerto Rico. The Casals Festival
takes place annually in San Juan, drawing in classical musicians from around the world.

With respect to

Milan, Italy


San Juan 450th 1971 issue, depicting one of the garitas of El Morro

Puerto Rico has been commemorated on four U.S. postal stamps and four personalities have been featured. Insular Territories were commemorated in 1937, the third stamp honored Puerto Rico featuring '

Puerto Rico Flag illustrated by a bird issued 2011.[359]

Four Puerto Rican personalities have been featured on U.S. postage stamps. These include Roberto Clemente in 1984 as an individual and in the Legends of Baseball series issued in 2000.[360] Luis Muñoz Marín in the Great Americans series,[361] on 18 February 1990,[357] Julia de Burgos in the Literary Arts series, issued 2010,[362] and José Ferrer in the Distinguished American series, issued 2012.[363]


2013 World Baseball Classic championship between Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, March 20, 2013

Puerto Rico Baseball League serves as the only active professional league, operating as a winter league. No Major League Baseball franchise or affiliate plays in Puerto Rico; however, San Juan hosted the Montreal Expos for several series in 2003 and 2004 before they moved to Washington, D.C., and became the Washington Nationals


Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and Roberto Alomar, enshrined in 1973, 1999, and 2011 respectively.[364][365][366]

World Amateur Boxing Championships. Other medalists include José Pedraza, who holds a silver medal, and three boxers who finished in third place, José Luis Vellón, Nelson Dieppa and McJoe Arroyo. In the professional circuit, Puerto Rico has the third-most boxing world champions and it is the global leader in champions per capita. These include Miguel Cotto, Félix Trinidad, Wilfred Benítez
and Gómez among others.


FIBA Americas Championships and the 1994 Goodwill Games 8 August 2004, became a landmark date for the team when it became the first team to defeat the United States in an Olympic tournament since the integration of National Basketball Association players. Winning the inaugural game with scores of 92–73 as part of the 2004 Summer Olympics organized in Athens, Greece.[367] Baloncesto Superior Nacional
acts as the top-level professional basketball league in Puerto Rico and has experienced success since its beginning in 1930.

Puerto Rico Islanders fans at a soccer game

Puerto Rico is also a member of FIFA and CONCACAF. In 2008, the archipelago's first unified league, the Puerto Rico Soccer League, was established.

Other sports include professional wrestling and road running. The World Wrestling Council and International Wrestling Association are the largest wrestling promotions in the main island. The World's Best 10K, held annually in San Juan, has been ranked among the 20 most competitive races globally. The "Puerto Rico All Stars" team, which has won twelve world championships in unicycle basketball.[368]


Orlando "El Gato" Meléndez, who became the first Puerto Rican born athlete to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.[370] Orlando Antigua, whose mother is Puerto Rican, in 1995 became the first Latino and the first non-black in 52 years to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.[371]

Puerto Rico has representation in all international competitions including the


Puerto Rican athletes have won ten medals in Olympic competition (two gold, two silver, six bronze), the first one in 1948 by boxer Juan Evangelista Venegas. Monica Puig won the first gold medal for Puerto Rico in the Olympic Games by winning the Women's Tennis singles title in Rio 2016.[372][373]



Puerto Rico interstate highways

Cities and towns in Puerto Rico are interconnected by a system of roads,

public bus transit system and a metro system called Tren Urbano ('Urban Train'). Other forms of Puerto Rican public transport include seaborne ferries that serve Puerto Rico's archipelago as well as carros públicos (private mini buses

Puerto Rico has three

Mercedita Airport in Ponce, and the Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla, and 27 local airports. The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is the largest aerial transportation hub in the Caribbean.[374]

A Tren Urbano train at Bayamón Station

Puerto Rico has nine

Port of the Americas in Ponce, currently under expansion to increase cargo capacity to 1.5 million twenty-foot containers (TEUs) per year.[375]




government monopoly until 2018. The Authority is ruled by a governing board appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate of Puerto Rico
, and is run by an executive director.

On 20 July 2018, Puerto Rico Law 120-2018 (Ley para Transformar el Sistema Eléctrico de Puerto Rico) was signed. This law authorized PREPA to sell infrastructure and services to other providers. As a result, a contract was signed on 22 June 2020, making LUMA Energy the new operator of the energy distribution and transmission infrastructure, as well as other areas of PREPA's operations, in effect partially privatizing the Puerto Rican power grid. The takeover was set for 1 June 2021, amidst protests and uncertainty from the point of view of the general public and the former-PREPA workers and union members.[377][378]

Water and sewage

Similarly, the

management, and supply in Puerto Rico.[379] It is the only entity authorized to conduct such business in Puerto Rico, effectively making it a government monopoly. Its existence is designated by Law No. 40 of 1 May 1945, including the corresponding amendments.[380]


Telecommunications in Puerto Rico includes radio, television, fixed and mobile telephones, and the Internet. Broadcasting in Puerto Rico is regulated by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).[381] As of 2007, there were 30 TV stations, 125 radio stations and roughly 1 million TV sets on the island. Cable TV subscription services are available, and the U.S. Armed Forces Radio and Television Service also broadcast on the island.[382] Puerto Rico also has its own amateur radio prefixes, which differ from those of the contiguous United States in that there are two letter before the number. The most well-known prefix is KP4, but others separated for use on the archipelago (including Desecheo and Mona) are: KP3/KP4/NP3/NP4/WP3/WP4 (Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra) and KP5/NP5/WP5 (Desecheo Island).[383] Amateur radio operators (also known as ham radio operators) are a well-known group in the island and can obtain special vehicle license plates with their callsign on them.[384] They have been a key element in disaster relief.[385]

See also


  1. ^ See the Political status of Puerto Rico article for more information.


  1. ^ Puerto Rico belongs to, but is not a part of, the United States. See the page for the Insular Cases for more information.
  2. ^ a b The definition of Commonwealth according to U.S. State Department policy (as codified in the department's Foreign Affairs Manual) reads: "The term 'Commonwealth' does not describe or provide for any specific political status or relationship."[13]
  3. ^ Pronunciation:
  4. ^ Proyecto Salón Hogar (in Spanish) "Los españoles le cambiaron el nombre de Borikén a San Juan Bautista y a la capital le llamaron Ciudad de Puerto Rico. Con los años, Ciudad de Puerto Rico pasó a ser San Juan, y San Juan Bautista pasó a ser Puerto Rico."[37]
  5. National Geographic article from 1899, after which the spelling was kept by many agencies and entities because of the ethnic and linguistic pride of the English-speaking citizens of the American mainland.[43]
  6. ^ Today, Puerto Ricans are also known as Boricuas, or people from Borinquen.
  7. Vicente Yañez Pinzón
    is considered the first appointed governor of Puerto Rico, but he never arrived from Spain.
  8. immunity.[57] For example, a smallpox outbreak in 1518–1519 killed much of the Island's indigenous population.[58] "The first repartimiento in Puerto Rico is established, allowing colonists fixed numbers of Tainos for wage-free and forced labor in the gold mines. When several priests protest, the crown requires Spaniards to pay native laborers and to teach them the Christian religion; the colonists continue to treat the natives as slaves."[59]
  9. ^ Poole (2011) "[The Taíno] began to starve; many thousands fell prey to smallpox, measles and other European diseases for which they had no immunity [...]"[60]
  10. ^ PBS "[The Taíno] eventually succumbed to the Spanish soldiers and European diseases that followed Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492."[61]
  11. ^ Yale University "[...] the high death rate among the Taíno due to enslavement and European diseases (smallpox, influenza, measles, and typhus) persisted."[62]
  12. ^ For additional references to Puerto Rico's current (2020) colonial status under U.S. rule, see Nicole Narea,[85] Amy Goodman and Ana Irma Rivera Lassén,[86] David S. Cohen[87] and Sidney W. Mintz.[88] Additional sources are available.
  13. ^ Cockcroft (2001; in Spanish) "[La Ley 53] fué llamada la 'pequeña ley Smith', debido a la semejanza con la Ley Smith de Estados Unidos [...]"[101]
  14. ^ However, as Robert William Anderson states on page 14 of his book "Party Politics in Puerto Rico" (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. 1965.), "No one disputes the ambiguous status of the current Commonwealth. It is illustrated in the very different images conjured up by the English term "commonwealth" and the Spanish version, Estado Libre Asociado (literally, free associated state). The issue seems to be whether this ambiguity is a purposeful virtue or a disguised colonial vice."
  15. ^ pr.gov (in Spanish) "La manufactura es el sector principal de la economía de Puerto Rico."[29]
  16. ^ pr.gov (in Spanish) "Algunas de las industrias más destacadas dentro del sector de la manufactura son: las farmacéuticas, los textiles, los petroquímicos, las computadoras, la electrónica y las compañías dedicadas a la manufactura de instrumentos médicos y científicos, entre otros."[29]
  17. ^ Torrech San Inocencio (2011; in Spanish) "Con los más de $1,500 millones anuales que recibimos en asistencia federal para alimentos podríamos desarrollar una industria alimentaria autosuficiente en Puerto Rico."[284]
  18. ^ Millán Rodriguez (2013; in Spanish) "Los representantes del Pueblo en la Junta de Gobierno de la Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica [...] denunciaron ayer que la propuesta del Gobernador para hacer cambios en la composición del organismo institucionaliza la intervención político partidista en la corporación pública y la convierte en una agencia del Ejecutivo.."[285]
  19. ^ Vera Rosa (2013; in Spanish) "Aunque Puerto Rico mueve entre el sector público y privado $15 billones en el área de salud, las deficiencias en el sistema todavía no alcanzan un nivel de eficiencia óptimo."[286]
  20. ^ Vera Rosado (2013; in Spanish) "Para mejorar la calidad de servicio, que se impacta principalmente por deficiencias administrativas y no por falta de dinero[...]"[286]
  21. ^ González (2012; in Spanish) "[...] al analizarse la deuda pública de la Isla contra el Producto Interno Bruto (PIB), se ubicaría en una relación deuda/PIB de 68% aproximadamente."[287]
  22. ^ Bauzá (2013; in Spanish) "La realidad de nuestra situación económica y fiscal es resultado de años de falta de acción. Al Gobierno le faltó creatividad, innovación y rapidez en la creación de un nuevo modelo económico que sustentara nuestra economía. Tras la eliminación de la Sección 936, debimos ser proactivos, y no lo fuimos."[288]
  23. ^ Quintero (2013; in Spanish) "Los indicadores de una economía débil son muchos, y la economía en Puerto Rico está sumamente debilitada, según lo evidencian la tasa de desempleo (13.5%), los altos niveles de pobreza (41.7%), los altos niveles de quiebra y la pérdida poblacional."[291]
  24. ^ Walsh (2013) "In each of the last six years, Puerto Rico sold hundreds of millions of dollars of new bonds just to meet payments on its older, outstanding bonds – a red flag. It also sold $2.5 billion worth of bonds to raise cash for its troubled pension system – a risky practice – and it sold still more long-term bonds to cover its yearly budget deficits."[303]
  25. ^ PRGDB "Financial Information and Operating Data Report to 18 October 2013" p. 142[305]
  26. ^ MRGI (2008) "Many female migrants leave their families behind due to the risk of illegal travel and the high cost of living in Puerto Rico."[193]
  27. ^ FRBNY (2011) "...home values vary considerably across municipios: for the metro area overall, the median value of owner-occupied homes was estimated at $126,000 (based on data for 2007–09), but these medians ranged from $214,000 in Guaynabo to around $100,000 in some of the outlying municipios. The median value in the San Juan municipio was estimated at $170,000."[319]
  28. ^ Santiago (2021) "Local detractors of the Jones Act [...] for many years have unsuccessfully tried to have Puerto Rico excluded from the law's provisions[...]"[321]
  29. ^ JOC (2013) "Repealing or amending the Jones Act cabotage law might cut Puerto Rico shipping costs"[324]
  30. ^ JOC (2013) "The GAO report said its interviews with shippers indicated they [...] believed that opening the trade to non-U.S.-flag competition could lower costs."[324]


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    United States Census. Archived
    from the original on 21 October 2021. Retrieved 17 August 2021.
  4. ^ "puertorriqueño". Diccionario de la Lengua Española por la Real Academia Española (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 January 2024.
  5. ^ "puertorro". Asociación de Academias de la Lengua Española: Diccionario de Americanismos (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 January 2024.
  6. ^ "Quick Facts Puerto Rico: Population Estimates, July 1, 2022". United States Census Bureau. 18 May 2023. Archived from the original on 30 March 2021. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  7. ^ a b c "Table 2. Resident Population for the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico: 2020 Census" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. 26 April 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 April 2021. Retrieved 26 April 2021.
  8. ^ a b c d "World Economic Outlook Database, October 2023 Edition. (PR)". International Monetary Fund. 10 October 2023. Archived from the original on 20 November 2023. Retrieved 13 October 2023.
  9. ^ "Household Income for States: 2010 and 2011" (PDF). U.S. Census Bureau. September 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 May 2014. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  10. ^ Fuentes-Ramírez, Ricardo R. (2017). "Human Development Index Trends and Inequality in Puerto Rico 2010–2015". Ceteris Paribus: Journal of Socio-Economic Research. 7. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
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  13. ^ "7 fam 1120 acquisition of u.s. nationality in u.s. territories and possessions". U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 7- Consular Affairs. U.S. Department of State. 3 January 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  14. ^ Pueblo v. Tribunal Superior, 92 D.P.R. 596 (1965). Translation taken from the English text, 92 P.R.R. 580 (1965), pp. 588–89. See also López-Baralt Negrón, Pueblo v. Tribunal Superior: Español: Idioma del proceso judicial, 36, Revista Jurídica de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. 396 (1967), and Vientós-Gastón, Informe del Procurador General sobre el idioma, 36 Revista del Colegio de Abogados de PuertO Rico. (P.R.) 843 (1975).
  15. ^ "Puerto Rico". Archived from the original on 12 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  16. .
  17. .
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  • Further reading

    • Ayala, César J. and Rafael Bernabe. Puerto Rico in the American Century: A History since 1898 (University of North Carolina Press, 2009), a major scholarly history. online; see also online review[permanent dead link]
    • Benach, Joan, et al. "What the Puerto Rican hurricanes make visible: Chronicle of a public health disaster foretold." Social Science & Medicine 238 (2019): 112367.
    • Bonilla, Yarimar, and Marisol LeBrón, eds. Aftershocks of disaster: Puerto Rico before and after the storm (Haymarket Books, 2019) online.
    • Delano, Jack. Puerto Rico mío: four decades of change= cuatro décadas de cambio (Smithsonian, 1990), history in photographs; captions in English and Spanish.. online
    • Delilah Roque, Anais, David Pijawka, and Amber Wutich. "The role of social capital in resiliency: Disaster recovery in Puerto Rico." Risk, Hazards & Crisis in Public Policy 11.2 (2020): 204-235.
    • Dietz, James L. Economic history of Puerto Rico: institutional change and capitalist development (Princeton University Press, 1986) online.
    • Garriga-López, Adriana. "Puerto Rico: The future in question." Shima 13.2 (2019): 174-192. online[permanent dead link]
    • Godreau, Isar P. Scripts of Blackness: Race, Cultural nationalism, and U.S. Colonialism in Puerto Rico. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2015.

    External links


    United States government

    United Nations (U.N.) Declaration on Puerto Rico

    18°12′N 66°30′W / 18.2°N 66.5°W / 18.2; -66.5 (Commonwealth of Puerto Rico)