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Facts About Puerto Rico

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.

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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

Original Name: San Juan Bautista

where is Puerto Rico
Can you spot Puerto Rico on the map?

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

Postal Abbreviation: PR

Major Industries: Manufacturing, finance, real estate, tourism

Christopher Columbus

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.

Naval battle in the Spanish-American War

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

The country of Puerto Rico is the smallest island of the Greater Antilles Archipelago found in the Caribbean. It is located east of the Dominican Republic.

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

san-juan-cathedral

Languages of Puerto Rico

Being an Unincorporated Territory of the United States, the official languages are English and Spanish. “Spanglish” can commonly be heard as well due to the influence of the United States on the native Spanish speakers.

Currency of Puerto Rico

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

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

Weather in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico boasts a warm and tropical climate often common in the tropics. Temperature ranges from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Occasionally in the summer, there are some afternoon showers.

ocean coastline

Population

The population of Puerto Rico is estimated to be around 3.6 million people. With another 5 million Puerto Ricans living in the United States.

Puerto Rico is one of the world’s most densely populated islands (most people per square mile).

People and Culture

The heritage of native Puerto Ricans is a mixture of Taíno Indian, African, and European (mostly Spanish).

Yuca a potato-like vegetable was brought by the Taino Indians. The Africans bought plantains and the Spanish brought their rice. 

Lechón which is a roasted Pork dish, rice, and beans, mofongo which is mashed fried plantains, and fried empanadas, and alcapurrias make up the most popular dishes on the island. 

Fruits such as Guava, Mango, Pineapple, Passion-Fruit, and Tamarind are used and eaten commonly.

Flora, Fauna, and Topography

There is a rich variety in the plants and animals found on the island. The northern side of the Islands is covered in Tropical Rainforests whereas scrub vegetation is found on the southern side of the island. 

The royal poinciana flower and the African tulip tree are among the flowering trees which cover the mountain ranges of Puerto Rico with patches of vivid color against a rich green tree line.

The islands are also home to a rich variety of birds. Land animals such as snakes, lizards, mongooses, and the coqui are predominant.

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.

The seas also boast a rich aquatic life but commercial fishing is carried out only at a limited scale.

Alcohol in Puerto Rico 

The legal drinking age in Puerto Rico is only 18 years old. 

It is also home to the most extensive Rum Factory in the world, Casa Bacardi.

The popular Pina Colada was invented in Puerto Rico

The Beaches and Caves of Puerto Rico 

The island has more than 270 miles of beaches.

Flamenco beach

Flamenco beach, in the region of Culebra, has been ranked as one of the Top 10 beaches in the world.

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.

Government

Being neither a State nor a Country but an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States means Puerto Ricans has its own government. That is, Puerto Ricans can elect their own governor and members of their Senate and House of Representatives to make laws.

They cannot vote for the US President but instead, vote for a Representative called a Resident Commissioner who speaks on behalf of Puerto Rican interests in the US Government.

Fun Facts

Puerto Rico is one of the world’s most densely populated islands (most people per square mile).

seal-of-Connecticut

It’s about the size of Connecticut, the 3rd smallest U.S. state, and is home to over 3.5 million people.

 

peurto rico beach

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

big pharma complex in peurto rico

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

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

presidential vote

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.

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

 

US States

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