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Puerto Rico

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Major Cities of Puerto Rico in the Geographic Region of Central America and the Caribbean

Puerto Rico Photo Gallery
Puerto Rico Realty

Coat of arms of Puerto Rico.svg
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Location of Puerto Rico within the Geographic Region of Central America and the Caribbean
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Map of Puerto Rico
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Puerto Rico Flag Description: The current flag of Puerto Rico was officially adopted in 1922.

The flag is similar to the flag of Cuba, as both were designed at the same time. The red stripes are symbolic of the "blood" that nourishes the three branches of its government; Legislative, Executive and Judiciary.

The white stripes represent individual liberty and the rights that keep the government in balance. The blue triangle stands for the "Republican Government", represented by the three branches, and the white Lone Star represents "The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico."

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Official name Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico (Spanish); Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (English)
Political status self-governing commonwealth in association with the United States, having two legislative houses (Senate [271]; House of Representatives [511])
Head of state President of the United States: Barack Obama
Head of government Governor: Alejandro García Padilla
Capital San Juan
Official languages Spanish; English
Monetary unit U.S. dollar (U.S.$)
Population (2013 est.) 3,674,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 3,424
Total area (sq km) 8,868
Urban-rural population

Urban: (2012) 99%
Rural: (2012) 1%

Life expectancy at birth

Male: (2012) 75.4 years
Female: (2012) 83.2 years

Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate

Male: not available
Female: not available

GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2012) 18,060

1Minimum number of seats per constitution; minority parties may have additional representation.

Background of Puerto Rico

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

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

Geography of Puerto Rico

The land

  • Relief

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

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

  • Drainage and soils

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

  • Climate

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

  • Plant and animal life

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

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

  • Settlement patterns

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

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

Demography of Puerto Rico

The people

  • Ethnic composition

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

  • Language and religion

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

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

  • Demographic trends

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

  • Puerto Ricans in the United States

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

Economy of Puerto Rico

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

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

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

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

  • Resources

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

  • Agriculture, forestry, and fishing

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

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

  • Manufacturing

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

  • Services

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


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

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


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

  • Transportation

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

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

Government and Politics of Puerto Rico

The legal system is based on a mix of the Civil Law and the Common Law systems. Puerto Rico's formal Chief of State is the President of the United States; however, most of the executive functions are carried out by the elected Governor.

The current constitution of Puerto Rico was approved through referendum in 1952 and ratified by the U.S. Congress, which maintains ultimate sovereignty over Puerto Rico. Under the 1952 constitution, Puerto Rico is a territorial commonwealth of the U.S. and is permitted a high degree of autonomy. Still, Puerto Rico does not have voting representation in the U.S. Congress; neither does it have any delegates to the U.S. Electoral College, and therefore Puerto Rican citizens have no representation in the U.S. presidential elections. A non-voting Resident Commissioner is elected by the residents of Puerto Rico to the U.S. Congress. Residents of the island do not pay federal income tax on income from island sources; however, island residents do pay social security taxes and other federal taxes. The island was also exempt from the national 55 mph speed limit that was mandated on the rest of the U.S. from 1974 to 1995.

Puerto Rico's three major political parties are most distinguished by their position on the political status of Puerto Rico. The Popular Democratic Party (Spanish: Partido Popular Democrático de Puerto Rico, PPD) seeks to maintain or improve the current Commonwealth status, the New Progressive Party (Spanish: Partido Nuevo Progresista de Puerto Rico, PNP) seeks to fully incorporate Puerto Rico as a U.S. state, and the Puerto Rican Independence Party (Spanish: Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño, PIP) seeks national independence.

U.S. Commonwealth

Map of Puerto Rico Although Puerto Rico is, politically speaking, a Commonwealth of the United States, Puerto Ricans and people from other nations refer to Puerto Rico as a país, the Spanish word for country. This is a very common and accepted international status given to all dependent territories, also called dependent "states" by the UN. This is highlighted by the fact, for example, that Puerto Rico is an independent country in the sports world, even having their own Olympic teams. In the jargon of international law, an inhabited territory that is not a first-order administrative division, but rather forms an external, non-sovereign territory governed by a sovereign one, is both a "state" and a "country." But none of these cases—- neither U.S. "states" nor dependent "states/countries"—are considered sovereign international entities.


Municipalities of Puerto Rico As a commonwealth associated with the United States, Puerto Rico does not have any first-order administrative divisions as defined by the U.S. government, but there are 78 municipalities at the second level. (Mona Island is not a municipality, but part of the municipality of Mayagüez). Each municipality has a mayor and a municipal legislature elected for a four-year term.

The first municipality (then termed a town) of Puerto Rico, San Juan, was founded in 1521. In the sixteenth century two more municipalities were established, Coamo (1570) and San Germán (1570). Three more municipalities were established in the seventeenth century. These were Arecibo (1614), Aguada (1692), and Ponce (1692). The eighteenth and nineteenth century saw an increase in settlement in Puerto Rico. There were 30 municipalities established in the eighteenth century and 34 more in the nineteenth century. Only six municipalities were founded in the twentieth century. The last municipality was Florida, founded in 1971.

The municipalities are further subdivided into barrios, and those into sectors.

Culture Life of Puerto Rico

History of Puerto Rico

Early History and Spanish Rule

Before the Spanish arrived the island was inhabited by the Arawak people, who called the region Borinquén or Boriquén. Christopher Columbus visited the island in 1493 and named it San Juan Bautista [St. John the Baptist], but he sailed on to Hispaniola to plant a settlement. Juan Ponce de León began the actual conquest in 1508, landing at San Juan harbor, which he called Puerto Rico [Span., = rich port]. A settlement was founded in 1521 on the site of present-day San Juan. As hardship, disease, and Spanish massacres eliminated the Arawaks altogether, they were replaced as plantation workers by African slaves, first introduced in 1513. Deposits of placer gold were virtually depleted during the 1530s, after which the Spanish devoted their full attention to the sugar plantations.

Raids by the nearby Carib and by British, French, and Dutch pirates, however, hampered agricultural prosperity. San Juan, meanwhile, became a leading outpost of the Spanish Empire. Treasure-filled Spanish galleons that anchored there on their long trip to Spain attracted buccaneers. George Clifford, earl of Cumberland, held Puerto Rico for five months in 1598, and the Dutch besieged the island in 1625. Spain's response was to build several fortresses (whose walls still stand) that made San Juan virtually impregnable. Coffee was introduced in the 18th cent. to supplement sugar.

Beginning in the 1820s there were some uprisings against Spanish rule, but all were put down. Most notable was the Lares rebellion ( Grito de Lares ) of 1868. As part of a Spanish reform movement that extended to Puerto Rico, slavery was abolished in 1873, and the new Spanish republican constitution of 1876 granted Puerto Rican representation in Spain's parliament.

A movement for self-government, supported by liberal groups in Spain, grew in Puerto Rico during the 1880s. Finally, in 1897, largely through the efforts of the Puerto Rican statesman Luis Muñoz Rivera, Spain signed a charter granting the island some autonomy. The new form of government had little chance to operate, however, for a few months later the Spanish-American War erupted. U.S. troops landed at Guánica on July 25, 1898, and occupied the island without much difficulty. By the Treaty of Paris (Dec. 10, 1898), which ended the war, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States.

  • Puerto Rico and the United States

Puerto Rico remained under direct military rule until 1900, when the U.S. Congress passed the Foraker Act, setting up an administration with a U.S. governor, an upper legislative chamber appointed by the U.S. president, and an elected house of delegates; the U.S. Congress was given the right to review all legislation. Meanwhile, a movement for Puerto Rican independence gained strength as pressures to define the island's political status grew. In 1917 the Jones Act stipulated that Puerto Rico was a U.S. territory whose inhabitants were entitled to U.S. citizenship. The act provided for election of both houses of the Puerto Rican legislature, but the governor and other key officials were still to be appointed by the U.S. president, and the governor was empowered to veto any legislation.

During World War I, U.S. holdings in Puerto Rico increased, and the change to a one-crop economy was completed. The island's territorial status gave Puerto Rican sugar a ready market within U.S. tariff walls; however, large corporations encroached on land where foods had been raised for subsistence, thus causing social upheaval in the countryside and necessitating greater food imports. Absentee ownership and one-crop culture aggravated the ills of overpopulation. Sanitary and health improvements under the U.S. occupation further accelerated population growth. Many Puerto Ricans criticized the American regime for its menace to the Hispanic roots of Puerto Rican culture. Criticism intensified when the sugar market dropped in the 1930s and many workers, always near the edge of starvation, became even more desperate.

Recovery measures were taken during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and especially under the governorship (1941–46) of Rexford G. Tugwell. Military activities related to World War II also aided the economy. The Popular Democratic party, headed by Luis Muñoz Marín, adopted a program based on economic reform and expansion, but other political parties were more concerned with U.S.–Puerto Rican relations. The Conservative Republicans advocated statehood; the Independentists, led by Gilberto Concepción, and the Nationalists, headed by Pedro Albizu Campos, favored immediate independence.

  • The Postwar Years and Commonwealth Status

In 1946, the U.S. government granted Puerto Rico increased local autonomy, exemplified by the appointment of the first native Puerto Rican governor, Jesus T. Piñero. The right of popular election of the governor followed, and Muñoz Marín won the 1948 election. His administration undertook a program of agricultural reform and industrial expansion called "Operation Bootstrap." On July 25, 1952, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was proclaimed. The continuing Nationalist campaign for independence, however, was dramatized by an attempt to assassinate President Harry S. Truman in 1950 and by a shooting attack in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1954. Muñoz Marín was reelected in 1952, 1956, and 1960. He was succeeded by another Popular Democratic candidate, Roberto Sánchez Vilella.

In the face of an increasingly active movement for statehood, Sánchez arranged a plebiscite in 1967 in which Puerto Ricans could choose among independence, statehood, and maintenance of the commonwealth relationship. An overwhelming majority voted for no change, but Puerto Rico's status continued to be a lively issue, with most citizens favoring either statehood (an option the U.S. Congress showed little interest in pursuing) or commonwealth; only a small percentage desired independence. In the 1970s and 80s voters chose Popular Democratic party candidates in some gubernatorial elections while favoring prostatehood New Progressive party candidates in others.

In 1992, New Progressive party candidate Pedro Rosselló was elected governor (he was reelected in 1996). In 1993 and 1998, however, voters in nonbinding referenda rejected any change from commonwealth status by narrow margins, although more U.S. politicians voiced support for the statehood option. In the same period disputes over military use of Vieques caused friction. Challenges to the tax exemptions supporting Puerto Rico's industries brought cuts in 1993 and finally their abolition in 1996; uncertainty over the effect on the local economy was heightened by the loss of low-wage jobs in apparel manufacture to Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Sila María Calderón, of the Popular Democratic party, was elected governor in 2000, becoming the first woman to hold the post.

Aníbal Acevedo Vilá, also of the Popular Democratic party, was narrowly elected in 2004 to succeed Calderón. In Sept., 2005, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, a fugitive independence activist and convicted felon, was killed in a shootout with the FBI. The FBI's handling of that and subsequent incidents involving independence supporters, as well as its lack of cooperation with a Puerto Rican investigation into Ojeda Ríos's death, sparked demonstrations that continued into 2006 and protests from Puerto Rican government officials. A government financial crisis in May, 2006, led to a partial government shutdown for two weeks until the governor and legislature agreed on an emergency loan plan as a solution to the crisis. In 2008 Acevedo was charged with corruption and violating campaign financing laws, which he denied. He subsequently lost (Nov., 2008) his reelection bid to Luis Fortuño, the Progressive party candidate; Acevedo was acquitted in Mar., 2009. In the 2012 election Alejandro García Padilla of the Popular Democratic party defeated Fortuño; a plurality of the voters favored statehood in a nonbinding ballot question concerning Peurto Rico's status.

Bibliography of Puerto Rico

Rafael Hernández Colón (governor of Puerto Rico)

Hernández Colón, Rafael governor of Puerto Rico October 24, 1936 Ponce, Puerto Rico Puerto Rican politician and lawyer, who served as governor of Puerto Rico (1973–77; 1985–93). Hernández Colón ...>>>Read On<<<


This is not the official site of this country. Most of the information in this site were taken from the U.S. Department of State, The Central Intelligence Agency, The United Nations, [1],[2], [3], [4], [5],[6], [7], [8], [9], [10], [11], [12], [13], [14],[15], [16], [17], [18], [19], [20], [21], [22], [23], [24],[25], [26], [27], [28], [29], [30],[31], [32], [33], [34], and the [35].

Other sources of information will be mentioned as they are posted.


This is not the official site of this country. Most of the information in this site were taken from the U.S. Department of State, The Central Intelligence Agency, The United Nations, [36],[37], [38], [39], [40],[41], [42], [43], [44], [45], [46], [47], [48], [49],[50], [51], [52], [53], [54], [55], [56], [57], [58], [59],[60], [61], [62], [63], [64], [65],[66], [67], [68], [69], and the [70].

Other sources of information will be mentioned as they are posted.