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Puerto Rico

Porto Rico: Its History, Products and Possibilities by A. D. Hall

The History of Puerto Rico by R. A. Van Middeldyk

Puerto Rico (Central America and Caribbean)

Introduction ::Puerto Rico


Populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following COLUMBUS' second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly-elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose not to alter the existing political status.

Geography ::Puerto Rico

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Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic
Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic

Geographic coordinates:
18 15 N, 66 30 W

Map references:

Central America and the Caribbean


total: 13,790 sq km country comparison to the world: 162 land: 8,870 sq km

water: 4,921 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Land boundaries:

0 km


501 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical marine, mild; little seasonal temperature variation


mostly mountains with coastal plain belt in north; mountains precipitous to sea on west coast; sandy beaches along most coastal areas

puerto rico 080

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m

highest point: Cerro de Punta 1,338 m

Natural resources:

some copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore oil

Land use:

arable land: 3.69%

permanent crops: 5.59%

other: 90.72% (2005)

Irrigated land:

400 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

periodic droughts; hurricanes

Environment - current issues:

erosion; occasional drought causing water shortages

Geography - note:

important location along the Mona Passage - a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal; San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean; many small rivers and high central mountains ensure land is well watered; south coast relatively dry; fertile coastal plain belt in north

People ::Puerto Rico


3,978,702 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 128

Age structure:

0-14 years: 19.8% (male 402,473/female 384,655)

15-64 years: 66.1% (male 1,260,191/female 1,361,359)

65 years and over: 14.1% (male 239,957/female 317,578) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 36.8 years

male: 35 years

female: 38.5 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.27% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 174

Birth rate:

11.42 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 172

Death rate:

7.82 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 111

Net migration rate:

-0.91 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 153


urban population: 98% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 0.8% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female

total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 8.23 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 162 male: 9 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 7.43 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 78.77 years country comparison to the world: 43 male: 75.15 years

female: 82.57 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.62 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 177

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

7,397 (1997) country comparison to the world: 115

HIV/AIDS - deaths:


noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)

adjective: Puerto Rican

Ethnic groups:

white (mostly Spanish origin) 76.2%, black 6.9%, Asian 0.3%, Amerindian 0.2%, mixed 4.4%, other 12% (2007)


Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%


Spanish, English


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 94.1%

male: 93.9%

female: 94.4% (2002 est.)

Education expenditures:

Government ::Puerto Rico

Country name:

conventional long form: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

conventional short form: Puerto Rico

Dependency status:

unincorporated, organized territory of the US with commonwealth status; policy relations between Puerto Rico and the US conducted under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President

Government type:



name: San Juan

geographic coordinates: 18 28 N, 66 07 W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:

none (territory of the US with commonwealth status); there are no
first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US
Government, but there are 78 municipalities (municipios, singular -
municipio) at the second order; 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


none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)

National holiday:

US Independence Day, 4 July (1776); Puerto Rico Constitution Day, 25
July (1952)


ratified 3 March 1952; approved by US Congress 3 July 1952; effective 25 July 1952

Legal system:

based on Spanish civil code and within the US Federal system of justice


18 years of age; universal; island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)

head of government: Governor Luis FORTUNO (since 2 January 2009)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor with the consent of the legislature (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as Puerto Rico, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in Democratic and Republican party presidential primary elections; governor elected by popular vote for a four-year term (no term limits); election last held on 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012)

election results: Luis FORTUNO elected governor with 52.8% of the vote

Legislative branch:

bicameral Legislative Assembly consists of the Senate (at least 27 seats; members directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives (51 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)

elections: Senate - last held on 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012); House of Representatives - last held on 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - PNP 81.5%, PPD 18.5%; seats by party - PNP 22, PPD 5; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - PNP 72.5%, PPD 27.5%; seats by party - PNP 37, PPD 14

note: Puerto Rico elects, by popular vote, a resident commissioner to serve a four-year term as a nonvoting representative in the US House of Representatives; aside from not voting on the House floor, he enjoys all the rights of a member of Congress; elections last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PNP 1

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court; Appellate Court; Court of First Instance composed of two sections: a Superior Court and a Municipal Court (justices for all these courts appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate)

Political parties and leaders:

National Democratic Party [Roberto PRATS]; National Republican Party
of Puerto Rico [Dr. Tiody FERRE]; New Progressive Party or PNP
[Pedro ROSSELLO] (pro-US statehood); Popular Democratic Party or PPD
[Anibal ACEVEDO-VILA] (pro-commonwealth); Puerto Rican Independence
Party or PIP [Ruben BERRIOS Martinez] (pro-independence)

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Boricua Popular Army or EPB (a revolutionary group also known as Los Macheteros); note - the following radical groups are considered dormant by Federal law enforcement: Armed Forces for National Liberation or FALN, Armed Forces of Popular Resistance, Volunteers of the Puerto Rican Revolution

International organization participation:

Caricom (observer), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, ITUC, UNWTO (associate), UPU

Diplomatic representation in the US:

none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)

Diplomatic representation from the US:

none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)

Flag description:

five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center; the white star symbolizes Puerto Rico; the three sides of the triangle signify the executive, legislative and judicial parts of the government; blue stands for the sky and the coastal waters; red symbolizes the blood shed by warriors, while white represents liberty, victory, and peace

note: design initially influenced by the US flag, but similar to the Cuban flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed

National anthem:

name: "La Borinquena" (The Puerto Rican)

lyrics/music: Manuel Fernandez JUNCOS/Felix Astol ARTES

note: music adopted 1952, lyrics adopted 1977; the local anthem's name is a reference to the indigenous name of the island, Borinquen; the music was originally composed as a dance in 1867 and gained popularity in the early 20th century; there is some evidence that the music was written by Francisco RAMIREZ; as a commonwealth of the United States, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is official (see United States)

Economy ::Puerto Rico

Economy - overview:

Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. A diverse industrial sector has far surpassed agriculture as the primary locus of economic activity and income. Encouraged by duty-free access to the US and by tax incentives, US firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. US minimum wage laws apply. Sugar production has lost out to dairy production and other livestock products as the main source of income in the agricultural sector. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income with estimated arrivals of more than 3.6 million tourists in 2008.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$64.84 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 83 $68.84 billion (2009 est.)

$71.51 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$93.52 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

-5.8% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 212 -3.7% (2009 est.)

-2.8% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$16,300 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 69 $17,400 (2009 est.)

$18,100 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 1%

industry: 45%

services: 54% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

1.479 million (2007) country comparison to the world: 133

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 2.1%

industry: 19%

services: 79% (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate:

12% (2002) country comparison to the world: 129

Population below poverty line:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

6.5% (2003 est.) country comparison to the world: 170

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Agriculture - products:

sugarcane, coffee, pineapples, plantains, bananas; livestock products, chickens


pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products, tourism

Industrial production growth rate:

Electricity - production:

23.72 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 68

Electricity - consumption:

22.06 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 67

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:

1,783 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 103

Oil - consumption:

164,100 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 63

Oil - exports:

16,520 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 93

Oil - imports:

225,000 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 41

Oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 134

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 141

Natural gas - consumption:

806.6 million cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 90

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 140

Natural gas - imports:

806.6 million cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 56

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 109


$46.9 billion (2001) country comparison to the world: 55

Exports - commodities:

chemicals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates, medical equipment


$29.1 billion (2001) country comparison to the world: 61

Imports - commodities:

chemicals, machinery and equipment, clothing, food, fish, petroleum products

Debt - external:

Exchange rates:

the US dollar is used

Communications ::Puerto Rico

Telephones - main lines in use:

870,100 (2009) country comparison to the world: 83

Telephones - mobile cellular:

2.716 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 118

Telephone system:

general assessment: modern system integrated with that of the US by high-capacity submarine cable and Intelsat with high-speed data capability

domestic: digital telephone system; mobile-cellular services

international: country code - 1-787, 939; submarine cables provide connectivity to the US, Caribbean, Central and South America; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat

Broadcast media:

more than 30 television stations operating; cable TV subscription services are available; roughly 125 radio stations operating (2007)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

482 (2010) country comparison to the world: 182

Internet users:

1 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 100

Transportation ::Puerto Rico


29 (2010) country comparison to the world: 117

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 17

over 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 7

under 914 m: 5 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 12

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1

under 914 m: 10 (2010)


total: 26,670 km country comparison to the world: 102 paved: 25,337 km (includes 427 km of expressways)

unpaved: 1,333 km (2008)

Merchant marine:

total: 3 country comparison to the world: 138 by type: roll on/roll off 3

foreign-owned: 3 (US 3)

registered in other countries: 1 (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2008)

Ports and terminals:

Ensenada Honda, Mayaguez, Playa de Guayanilla, Playa de Ponce, San

Military ::Puerto Rico

Military branches:

no regular indigenous military forces; paramilitary National Guard, Police Force

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 704,833

females age 16-49: 788,234 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 30,616

female: 29,196 (2010 est.)

Military - note:

defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues ::Puerto Rico

Disputes - international:

increasing numbers of illegal migrants from the Dominican Republic cross the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico each year looking for work

Political divisions of the United States

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

Federal district : Washington, D.C.
Insular areas : American Samoa | Guam | Northern Mariana Islands |Puerto Rico | U.S. Virgin Islands

Outlying islands : Baker Island | Howland Island | Jarvis Island | Johnston Atoll |Kingman Reef Midway Atoll | Navassa Island | Palmyra Atoll | Wake Island

Indian reservations : List of Indian reservations

Associated states : Micronesia, Federated States of | Marshall Islands | Palau


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