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Puerto Rico Map Fact Sheet

Puerto Rico Flag

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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 society.

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 bilingual.

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 Rico.

Puerto Rico Towns - To visit each town information click here

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 inches

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