Puerto Rico Map Fact Sheet
Puerto Rico Flag
Puerto Rico History
|On November 19, 1493, Christopher Columbus, on his second
voyage to the Americas, claimed it for the Spanish Crown.
The Spanish named it San Juan Bautista in honor of St. John
the Baptist and named the capital Puerto Rico or rich port.
In 1521 the names were switched by Juan Ponce de León,
the island’s first governor.
During the 16th century, as a result of forced labor and
European diseases for which they had no immunity, the Taínos
virtually disappeared as a distinct ethnic group. Their
strong influence however, survives to this day in the language,
culture and people of Puerto Rico.
Needing a new population of laborers to work in mines and
construction as well as in agriculture, the Spanish began
to introduce African slaves into the island as early as
1513. The Africans had a significant impact on the nascent
mulatto culture of Puerto Rico. Their music, food, religion
and language were all integrated into the very fabric of
The gold mines were declared depleted in 1570 giving way
to the dominance of agriculture and in particular sugar
cane as the main engine of economic growth. The needs of
the burgeoning economy spurred the establishment of townships
throughout the entire island.
In 1776, the official census numbers stated that the population
of Puerto Rico had grown to only 70,210. In order to further
raise the number of inhabitants, the Spanish began to grant
land deeds to people from all over Europe, particularly
Corsicans and Canary Islanders. The 19th century therefore
was marked culturally by the influence of many different
European nationalities settling permanently on the island.
The 19th century was also marked by political unrest and
social upheaval. In 1809, Puerto Rico was recognized as
an overseas province with the right to send representatives
to the Spanish Court. Despite this development, the revolutionary
movement for Puerto Rican independence continued to grow.
In 1868, residents rose up in arms against Spain in the
town of Lares. The short-lived uprising was quickly put
down by the Spanish government.
In 1898, Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States as
a result of the Spanish-American War, under the terms of
the Treaty of Paris, ending 400 years of Spanish colonial
dominance. At the turn of the century the U.S. had established
a military government with an appointed American governor
to direct the new territory.
The 20th century saw phenomenal growth for the island.
In 1917, the U.S. Congress granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship
and in 1948, the people of the island, for the first time,
democratically elected their own governor, Don Luis Muñoz
Marín. Under his leadership, Puerto Rico shifted
from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy, saw
the growth of a large urban population and in 1952 adopted
a constitution that established its relationship with the
U.S. and organized an internal government.
This innovative political status, known as the Commonwealth,
hastened the island’s development towards a unique,
vibrant and modern democracy. Since Governor Muñoz
Marín, Puerto Ricans have elected 6 more governors,
including at present, the Honorable Sila María Calderón,
the first woman and in numerous referendums have reaffirmed
their preference for the Commonwealth status and for a continued
relationship with the U.S.
Geography Puerto Rico
|Puerto Rico coordinates: 18 15 N, 66 30 W
Puerto Rico Map area : The island is divided into three
main geographic regions: the mountainous interior, the northern
plateau, and the coastal plains.
The central mountain of Puerto Rico range, known as the
Cordillera Central, rises to more than 3,000 feet, with
the highest points at Cerro de Punta, 4,389 feet, and Monte
Guilarte, 3,949 feet.
In the northeast, the Sierra de Luquillo includes the
rain forest of El Yunque. The whole area of 29,000 acres
is included in the Caribbean National Forest and is a major
tourist attraction. The island’s total area is 9,104
sq km and features 501 km of coastline.
Puerto Rico Population
3,808,610 (census 2000)
In 1990, about 15% of the population of Puerto Rico over
25% had obtained a bachelor’s or higher degree and
about 32% of children between the ages of 5 and 17 were
July 1, 1999--April 1, 1990--Percent change--Estimate Census-
1990 to 1999---Births------ Deaths---- Natural increase
3,889,507--- 3,522,037----- 10.4 -----------585,532-------------------------
--261,988--- 323,544 ---43,926
Puerto Rico Travel Requirements
No passport or immunizations are necessary for a U.S.
citizen or national traveling to Puerto Rico. The passport
and visa requirements for entering Puerto Rico are the same
as for entering the USA. Non US and Canadian citizens must
have a valid passport, but always its better to consult
your travel agent before book your tickets. However, citizens
of many Western European countries, Australia, New Zealand
and Japan can take advantage of a US reciprocal visa waiver
program if they intend to stay less than 90 days.
However, some form of identification, e.g. a driver’s
license, passport or an original copy of one's birth certificate,
should be carried to evidence U.S. citizenship or nationality.
Aliens traveling to the Commonwealth are required to have
a valid passport and an appropriate U.S. visa, if required.
The requirements for pets are: l) Tag with name of pet,
owner's name and telephone number, and 2) Rabies quarantine
certificate from veterinary doctor stating that pet has
had a rabies shot. For more information contact the U.S.
Department of Agriculture Puerto Rico office, Veterinary
Division at (787) 766-6050. No currency exchange is necessary
as the U.S. Dollar is the official currency used in Puerto
Puerto Rico Towns - To visit each town information
|Puerto Rico is divided into 78 municipalities with local
mayors: Adjuntas, Aguada, Aguadilla, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito,
Anasco, Arecibo, Arroyo, Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Bayamon,
Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Camuy, Canovanas, Carolina, Catano, Cayey,
Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Coamo, Comerio, Corozal, Culebra, Dorado,
Fajardo, Florida, Guanica, Guayama, Guayanilla, Guaynabo,
Gurabo, Hatillo, Hormigueros, Humacao, Isabela, Jayuya, Juana
Diaz, Juncos, Lajas, Lares, Las Marias, Las Piedras, Loiza,
Luquillo, Manati, Maricao, Maunabo, Mayaguez, Moca, Morovis,
Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Penuelas, Ponce, Quebradillas,
Rincon, Rio Grande, Sabana Grande, Salinas, San German, San
Juan, San Lorenzo, San Sebastian, Santa Isabel, Toa Alta,
Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Vieques,
Villalba, Yabucoa, Yauco
Puerto Rico Climate
|An agreeable climate is one of Puerto Rico's most attractive
characteristics. Tropical marine, with an average annual temperature
of 82 F. (28 C.). Puerto Rico enjoys year round summer temperatures.
The dry season is December to March. Note that temperatures
in the mountains are significantly cooler than the coast,
so if you intend to travel inland bring a sweater for the
evenings regardless of when you visit. Annual rainfall 62
Puerto Rico Currency Exchange and Credit Cards Information
American Express, Visa, Master Card and Discover are
accepted at featured hotels and most restaurants and shops.
Please always confirm with location where to be used.
The local currency is US dollars. You can expect a slightly
better rate of exchange at the banks than at the hotels.
Currency regulations and exchange rates will vary depending
on the nature and size of the transaction, for more detailed
information consult your bank. There are plenty of ATMs
thru the island.
Additional Information about Puerto Rico