Puerto Rico

 

History of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Flag
Flag

The history of Puerto Rico began with the settlement of the archipelago of Puerto Rico by the Ortoiroid people between 3000 and 2000 BC. Other tribes, such as the Saladoid and Arawak Indians, populated the island between 430 BC and 1000 AD. At the time of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492, the dominant indigenous culture was that of the Taínos. The Taíno people's numbers went dangerously low during the latter half of the 16th century because of new infectious diseases carried by Europeans, exploitation by Spanish settlers, and warfare.

Located in the northeastern Caribbean, Puerto Rico formed a key part of the Spanish Empire from the early years of the exploration, conquest and colonization of the New World. The island was a major military post during many wars between Spain and other European powers for control of the region in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The smallest of the Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico was a stepping-stone in the passage from Europe to Cuba, Mexico, Central America, and the northern territories of South America. Throughout most of the 19th century until the conclusion of the Spanish–American War, Puerto Rico and Cuba were the last two Spanish colonies in the New World; they served as Spain's final outposts in a strategy to regain control of the American continents. These two possessions, however, had been demanding more autonomy and had pro-independence movements since the start of the movements in 1808. Realizing that it was in danger of losing its two remaining Caribbean territories, the Spanish Crown revived the Royal Decree of Graces of 1815. The decree was printed in Spanish, English and French in order to attract Europeans, with the hope that the independence movements would lose their popularity and strength with the arrival of new settlers. Free land was offered to those who wanted to populate the islands on the condition that they swear their loyalty to the Spanish Crown and allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1898, during the Spanish–American War, Puerto Rico was invaded and subsequently became a possession of the United States. The first years of the 20th century were marked by the struggle to obtain greater democratic rights from the United States. The Foraker Act of 1900, which established a civil government, and the Jones Act of 1917, which made Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens, paved the way for the drafting of Puerto Rico's Constitution and its approval by Congress and Puerto Rican voters in 1952. However, the political status of Puerto Rico, a Commonwealth controlled by the United States, remains an anomaly.

Geography

Puerto Rico Map Puerto Rico Map - Click for larger view

The island of Puerto Rico is a very popular tourist destination because of its location, rich history and warm atmostphere. The island is located in the Caribbean, between the Caribbean Se and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic, about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Miami, Florida.

Puerto Rico is almost rectangular in shape, approximately 100 miles long by 35 miles wide and is the smallest and the most eastern island of the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico). It consists of the main island of Puerto Rico and several smalller islands and keys, including Vieques, Culebra, Culebrita, Palomino (known by some by the Spanish Virgin Islands), Mona, and Monito.

Its coasts measures approximately 580 km, and if the adjacent islands Vieques and Culebra are included the coast measures approximately 700 km. With an area of 3,425 square miles (9,104 sq km), Puerto Rico is the third largest island in the United States and the 82nd largest island in the world.

Geographic Coordinates: Latitude: 18° 15" N Longitude: 66° 30" W

Culture

Modern Puerto Rican culture is a unique mix of cultural antecedents: including Taíno (Amerindians), Spanish, African, European and, more recently, North American.

From the Spanish, Puerto Rico received the Spanish language, the Catholic religion and the vast majority of their cultural and moral values and traditions. The United States added English language influence, the university system and the adoption of some holidays and practices. On March 12, 1903, the University of Puerto Rico was officially founded, branching out from the "Escuela Normal Industrial", a smaller organism that was founded in Fajardo three years before.

Much of Puerto Rican culture centers on the influence of music and has been shaped by other cultures combining with local and traditional rhythms. Early in the history of Puerto Rican music, the influences of Spanish and African traditions were most noticeable. The cultural movements across the Caribbean and North America have played a vital role in the more recent musical influences that have reached Puerto Rico.

The official symbols of Puerto Rico are the Reinita mora or Puerto Rican Spindalis (a type of bird), the Flor de Maga (a type of flower), and the Ceiba or Kapok (a type of tree). The unofficial animal and a symbol of Puerto Rican pride is the Coquí, a small frog. Other popular symbols of Puerto Rico are the jíbaro (the "countryman"), and the carite.

The People

The last full US census results, from 2010, showed 3,725,789 people that inhabit the island of Puerto Rico make it one of the most densely populated islands in the world. There are about 1,000 people per square mile, a ratio higher than within any of the 50 states in the United States.

On August 2012, the number of Puerto Ricans on the U.S. mainland reached a record - 4.9 million. Had these people remained in Puerto Rico, the island would be so densely populated that there would be virtually no room for people to live. Because of the massive migration to the mainland, more Puerto Ricans are said to live in New York City than in San Juan.

On March 27, 2014 the U.S. Census Bureau announced that the island's total population fell from about 3.7 million in 2010 to 3.6 million in 2013. The government stated that more than 450,000 people have left the island in the past decade. The majority are settling in U.S. states including New York and Florida.

On the island, one-third of the population is concentrated in the San Juan-Carolina-Bayamón metropolitan area. The largest city is San Juan, the island's capital. It has a population of 395,326 (2010), making it the 46th largest city in the USA. The second largest city is Bayamón, with 208,116 people and is the 103rd largest city in America. Other major cities include Carolina (176,762), Ponce (166,327) and Caguas (142,893).

The people of Puerto Rico represent a cultural and racial mix. When the Spanish forced the Taíno people into slavery, the entire indigenous population was virtually decimated, except for a few Amerindians who escaped into the remote mountains. Eventually they inter-married with the poor Spanish farmers and became known as jíbaros. Because of industrialization and migration to the cities, few jíbaros remain.

Weather and Climate

Puerto Rico Weather

Climate
Puerto Rico has a tropical marine climate, which is mild and has little seasonal temperature variation. Temperatures range from 21˚C to 32˚C (70˚F to 90˚F), and tend to be lower at night and up in the mountains. Year-round trade winds help ensure the sub tropical climate. The average annual temperature is 26°C (80°F). Rainfall is abundant along the north coast and in the highlands, but light along the south coast. Hurricane season spans between June and November, where rain showers occur once a day, almost every day. Periodic droughts sometimes affect the island.

 

 

Public Holidays

Public Holidays Puerto Rico 2015
Año Nuevo (New Year's Day) January 1
Día de los Tres Reyes Magos (Three Kings Day or Epiphany) January 6
Conmemoración del Natalicio de Eugenio María de Hostos (Eugenio María de Hostos Birthday) January 12
Conmemoración del Natalicio de Martin Luther King, Jr. (Martin Luther King Birthday) January 19
Día de San Valentín (Valentine's Day) February 14
Día de los Presidentes (Presidents' Day) February 16
Día de la Abolición de la Esclavitud (Emancipation Day) March 22
Viernes Santo (Good Friday) April 3
Domingo de la Resurrección (Easter) April 5
Conmemoración del Natalicio de José de Diego (José de Diego Birthday) April 20
Día de las Madres (Mother's Day) May 10
Memorial Day May 25
Día de los Padres (Father's Day) June 21
Día de la Independencia de Estados Unidos (Independence Day) July 4
Conmemoración del Natalicio de Luis Muñoz Rivera (Luis Muñoz Rivera's Birthday) July 20
Conmemoración del Estado Libre Asociado (Commonwealth of Puerto Rico) July 25
Conmemoración del Natalicio de José Celso Barbosa (José Celso Barbosa Birthday) July 27
Día del Trabajo (Labor Day) September 7
Descubrimiento de América (Columbus Day) October 12
Halloween October 31
Día del Veterano (Veteran's Day) November 11
Día del Descubrimiento de Puerto Rico (Discovery of Puerto Rico Day) November 19
Día de Acción de Gracias (Thanksgiving Day) November 26
Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) December 24
Navidad (Christmas Day) December 25
New Years Eve December 31
   

Travel Advisory

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Puerto Rico. Exercise normal security precautions.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. It is a good idea to take out travel insurance covering cancellations, lost or stolen property, injury, and illness. You're likely to have partial or complete coverage.

Take some time and travel to a tropical island. Hire a cast of thousands to play friendly, welcoming people most of whom speak English (in addition to their native Spanish). When you are looking for exotic locations, miles upon miles of white sand beaches, plus an unbelievable rain forest and mountains, you come to Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is a modern progressive and civilized vacation spot that maintains the charm and hospitality of days gone by. You will find everything that the Caribbean has to offer in this all around family destination - and with it is a people whose warmth is equaled only by the sunshine that graces its shores.

Before you go on your trip to Puerto Rico, find out all the basics and all the facts.

When to Go
Puerto Rico enjoys year round summer temperatures, an average annual temperature of 80°F (26°C). The peak tourist season is between December and April, but this has more to do with the climate in U.S. mainland than anything else. July and August represents another peak tourist seasons. The best time to avoid the crowds is the low season between May and November, which, unfortunately, coincides with hurricane season (officially -- from June 1 to November 30). In recent years, Puerto Rico has also become popular Spring Break destination.

How to Get and Around
It's easy to find your way to and around. There is a wide selection of flights and cruises to Puerto Rico, and there are several ways of getting around when you arrive.

Accommodations
Puerto Rico offers a huge variety of lodgings that will appeal to a multiplicity of personalities and pocketbooks. There are 13,000 hotel rooms available in Puerto Rico (2010), 50% are located in the San Juan area. The government sponsors "Paradores Puertorriqueños", a group of 18 inns located throughout the island. Quality and prices varies among the group. view Hotels in Puerto Rico click here

If you are planning on renting, buying or leasing property on the island, Real Estate Agencies offer a variety of services, whether it is a small quiet home or a vacation rental, real estate agents will provide you with the information you need. There is a wide selection of rental properties available in San Juan and throughout the island at beach and resort areas.

Courtesy & Dress
Puerto Ricans are a gentle and friendly people. The island feels more like Latin America than the United States. Swim wear is fine for the beach and leisure wear for the resorts, but elsewhere a little dressing up is in order. Night time in San Juan is somewhat informal.

Light and loose cotton clothing is the best bet year-round for Puerto Rico's warm tropical climate. Pack a sweater for cool season evenings or if you plan to visit the mountain regions.

There are no nudist facilities (camps and/or beaches) in Puerto Rico. Nudism is illegal in Puerto Rico.

Currency
Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the US and uses the dollar. The US dollar is often referred to as the "peso".

Taxes & Tips
Puerto Rico has a 5.5% sales tax. Municipalities have the option of imposing an additional sales tax of up to 1.5% (effective on November 15, 2006). In addition, in the event that the governor determines an insufficiency in collections for the general fund an additional 1% to the central government will be imposed.

Tipping is much the same as in the States. In hotels, major restaurants and nightclubs services charges are usually included. However, many inexpensive restaurants do not add service charge. If it isn't, tip between 15% and 20%.

Traveling with Pets
Before taking a flight with your animal, have your veterinarian examine your pet to ensure that it is healthy enough to make the trip. Airlines and State health officials generally require health certificates for all animals transported by air. You will be required to: 1) Outfit your pet with a sturdy collar and two identification tags. The tags should have both your permanent address and telephone number and an address and telephone number where you can be reached while traveling. 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.

Things to Do
Puerto Rico offers an amazing variety of experiences. Tourist attractions to suit many tastes, from beautiful beaches to natural rain forests. But there is also a richness of history and culture to be found nowhere else. Puerto Rico is packed with enough unique attractions and fascinating sights to keep you occupied for weeks.

Ask yourself: "How much can I do today?” instead of: "What can I do today?", I assure you that with all the options Puerto Rico offers, you will be busy for weeks. More Info