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Puerto Rico Facts

Puerto Rico Facts

Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island and U.S. territory with a landscape of mountains, waterfalls, and tropical rainforest.

The island is known for its beautiful beaches and Spanish Caribbean culture with an American twist.

Bright, colorful homes line the coast, while American fast food chains can be found in larger cities like San Juan. Puerto Rico is an interesting blend of cultures with a rich history.

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Quick Facts

Capital: San Juan

Population: 3.5 million

Nickname: Island of Enchantment

Key Cities: San Juan, Bayamón, Carolina, Ponce, Caguas

Postal Abbreviation: PR

Major Industries: Manufacturing, finance, real estate, tourism

History

How did Puerto Rico get its name: When Christopher Columbus arrived in Puerto Rico in 1493, he originally called the island San Juan Batista.

Soon, the island became known as Puerto Rico (“rich port” in Spanish) instead because of the gold that could be found in its rivers and streams. The capital city took the name San Juan instead.

san-juan

Date admitted to the Union: Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory in 1898, following the Spanish-American War. On March 2, 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship.

Geography

Size: 3,515 sq. miles

Lowest point: Caribbean Sea at sea level

Highest point: Cerro de Punta at 4,553 ft.

Counties: 78 (called municipalities or “municipios”)

Famous locations: El Yunque National Forest, Old San Juan, El Morro, La Fortaleza, San Juan Cathedral

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Famous Puerto Ricans

Ricky Martin- singer

Jennifer Lopez- singer/actress

Benicio del Toro- actor

Roberto Clemente- baseball player

Carlos Beltran- baseball player

Rita Moreno- actress

Fun Facts

Puerto Rico is one of the world’s most densely populated islands (most people per square mile). It’s about the size of Connecticut, the 3rd smallest U.S. state, and is home to over 3.5 million people.

The island has more than 270 miles of beaches.

For visitors who get tired of the beautiful beaches (if that’s possible), there are also over 200 caves to explore in Puerto Rico’s Rio Camuy Cave Park.

Experts believe there are still hundreds of undiscovered caves on the island.

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The coqui is a small frog that can be found only in Puerto Rico. It’s about an inch long and makes a unique, high-pitched song: “ko-kee, ko-kee,” especially at night.

The frogs are a beloved symbol of Puerto Rico.

Barceloneta in Puerto Rico is famous for its blue beaches and pineapple plantations, earning it the nickname “Pineapple City.”

It also has one of the biggest pharmaceutical complexes in the world.

That’s because the water is so pure that it can be used in pharmaceutical products with almost no treatment (a process that improves the quality of the water).

Although residents of Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens, Puerto Rico is technically not a state, so Puerto Ricans don’t vote in U.S. elections.

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However, you don’t need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico, and residents of the island can also travel freely to the United States.

Puerto Ricans use the U.S. dollar, but they often refer to it as the “peso” or “dolar.”