Population: 3,667,084 (est.)
Language(s): Spanish, English
Capital: San Juan
- The US$ is the official currency of Puerto Rico, though it is often referred to as the ‘peso’ by the locals.
- The Constitution guarantees freedom for all faiths. The major religions are: Catholic (85%), Protestants (8%), non religious (2.3%), and others (3%).
- The ethnic demographics in Puerto Rico are around, 80.5% white (mostly Spanish origin), 8% black, 0.4% Amerindian, 0.2% Asian, mixed and 10.9% other.
- The climate is Tropical Marine with average temperatures year round, near 26.7 °C (80 °F) in lower elevations and 21.1 °C (70 °F) in the mountains.
- Puerto Rico is a free associated territory of the United States. Moreover, since 1917, all Puerto Ricans are born as American citizens.
- Puerto Rico is a hurricane prone island and should be avoided during the hurricane season, from June to November. Winter is the peak tourist season.
- Cockfighting is legal in Puerto Rico with many towns having their own ‘coliseums’ built for rooster fights.
- Puerto Rico houses the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope in the world, measuring thousand feet in diameter and spanning almost 20 acres.
Puerto Rico officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
Puerto Rico (Spanish for “rich port”) comprises an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands, the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. The main island of Puerto Rico is the smallest by land area of the Greater Antilles. It ranks third in population among that group of four islands, which include Cuba, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), and Jamaica. Due to its location, Puerto Rico enjoys a tropical climate and is subject to the Atlantic hurricane season.
Originally populated for centuries by indigenous aboriginal peoples known as Taínos, the island was claimed by Christopher Columbus for Spain during his second voyage to the Americas on November 19, 1493. Under Spanish rule, the island was colonized and the indigenous population was forced into slavery and wiped out due to, among other things, European infectious diseases. Spain possessed Puerto Rico for over 400 years, despite attempts at capture of the island by the French, Dutch, and British. In 1898, Spain ceded the archipelago, as well as the Philippines, to the United States as a result of its defeat in the Spanish-American War under the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1898. Since then Puerto Rico has remained under United States rule.
In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship and since 1948 have elected their own governor. In 1952 the Constitution of Puerto Rico was adopted and ratified by the electorate. A democratically elected bicameral legislature is in place but the United States Congress legislates many fundamental aspects of Puerto Rican life. The islanders may not vote in U.S. presidential elections because the territory is not a state. Official languages of the island are Spanish and English, with Spanish being the primary language.
The island’s current political status, including the possibility of statehood or independence, is widely debated in Puerto Rico. In November 2012, a non-binding referendum resulted in fifty-four percent of respondents voting to reject the current status under the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution. Among respondents to a second question about alternatives, sixty-one percent voted for statehood as the preferred alternative to the current territorial status. In December 2012, President Barack Obama said that the majority has spoken in favor of statehood and urged Congress to take action.