Puerto Rico

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Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Image:Flag of Puerto Rico.svg Image:CoatofarmsPR.jpg
Flag [[{{{symbol_type_article|{{{symbol_type|Coat of arms}}}}}} of Puerto Rico|{{{symbol_type|Coat of arms}}}]]
Motto: Latin: Joannes Est Nomen Eius;
Spanish: Juan es su nombre

(English: "John is his name")

Anthem: La Borinqueña
Capital San Juan
Template:Coor dm
{{{largest_settlement_type|Largest city}}} San Juan}}}
Official language(s) Spanish, English
Government Commonwealth
Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
None (U.S. Commonwealth)
 - Total
 - Water (%)
9,104 km² (Ranked)
3,514 sq mi 
 - July 2005 est.{{#if:{{{population_census|}}}|
 - 2000 census}}
 - Density
434/km² (Ranked(a))
1,115/sq mi 
 - Total
 - Per capita
2005 estimate
$72.37 billion (68th)
$18,500 (56th)
HDI (n/a) (not ranked) –
Currency United States dollar (USD)
Time zone
 - Summer (DST)
No DST (UTC-4)}}}
Internet TLD .pr
Calling code +1-787</code> and +1-939 {{#if:{{{footnotes|}}}|<tr><td colspan="2">{{{footnotes|}}}

Coordinates: Template:Coor dm

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, IPA Template:IPA), also Porto Rico (especially in older literature), is a commonwealth of the United States located east of the Dominican Republic in the northeastern Caribbean. Puerto Rico, the smallest of the Greater Antilles, includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands and keys, including Mona, Vieques, and Culebra.

The nature of Puerto Rico's political relationship with the United States is the subject of ongoing debate in the island. Those who support maintaining the status quo (i.e., Commonwealth status) insist that upon attaining this status, Puerto Rico entered into a voluntary association with the U.S. "in the nature of a compact", but opponents of Commonwealth disagree: according to them, Puerto Rico is no more than an unincorporated organized territory of the U.S., subject to the plenary powers of the United States Congress.




Pre-Columbian era

The history of the island of Puerto Rico prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus is not well understood. What is known today comes from archeological findings and from the writings of oral accounts of the Spaniards. The first comprehensive book on the history of Puerto Rico was written by Fray Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra in 1776, 283 years after the first Spaniards arrived on the island Template:Ref. Image:Taino Village.JPG The first indigenous settlers of Puerto Rico were the Ortoiroid, an Archaic age culture. An archeological dig in the island of Vieques in 1990 found the remains of what is believed to be an Arcaico man (named Puerto Ferro man) which was dated to around 2000 BC (4000 years ago) Template:Ref. Afterwards, between 120 and 400 AD, the Igneri, a tribe that preceded both the Caribs and Taínos, arrived on the island Template:Ref. Between the 7th and 11th century the Taíno culture developed on the island and by approximately 1000 AD, the Taíno culture had become the dominant culture on the island. They maintained this dominance until the arrival of the Spanish in 1493.

Spanish arrival

When Europeans first arrived, the island of Puerto Rico was inhabited by a group of Arawak Indians known as Taínos. The Taínos called the island "Borikén." The first European contact was made by Christopher Columbus during his second voyage to the Antilles, on November 19, 1493. Some say that Puerto Rico was not discovered by Columbus but by Martin Alonzo Pinzón in 1492 when he separated from Columbus and went exploring on his own. The Pinzón family was given one year by the Spanish court to start a settlement in Puerto Rico which would give them a claim to the island. However, they did not succeed. Originally named San Juan Bautista, in honor of Saint John the Baptist, the island ultimately took the name of Puerto Rico (meaning Rich Port), while the name San Juan is now delegated to its capital and largest city. Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León became the island's first governor to take office, while Vicente Yáñez Pinzón was the first appointed governor, although he never arrived on the island.

The island was soon colonized by the Spanish and African slaves who were introduced as labour to replace the decreasing populations of Taino Indians who were being forced to work for the Spanish crown. Puerto Rico briefly became an important stronghold and port for the Spanish empire in the Caribbean. However, colonial emphasis during the late 17th–18th centuries focused on the more prosperous mainland territories, leaving the island impoverished of settlers. Concerned about threats from its European enemies, over the centuries various forts and walls were built to protect the port of San Juan. Fortresses such as La Fortaleza, El Castillo San Felipe del Morro and El Castillo de San Cristóbal were built. The French, Dutch and English made attempts to capture Puerto Rico, but failed to wrest long-term occupancy of the island.

In 1809, while Napoleon occupied the majority of the Iberian peninsula, a populist assembly based in Cadiz recognized Puerto Rico as an overseas province of Spain with the right to send representatives to the Spanish Court. The representative Ramon Power y Giralt died soon after arriving in Spain; and constitutional reforms were reversed when autocratic monarchy was restored. Nineteenth century reforms augmented the population and economy, and expanded the local character of the island. After the rapid gains of independence by the South and Central American states in the first part of the century, Puerto Rico and Cuba became the sole New World remnants of the large Spanish empire.

Toward the end of the 19th century, poverty and political estrangement with Spain led to a small but significant uprising in 1868 known as "El Grito de Lares". The uprising was easily and quickly crushed. Leaders of this independence movement included Ramón Emeterio Betances, considered the "father" of the Puerto Rican nation, and other political figures such as Segundo Ruiz Belvis. Later, another political stronghold was the autonomist movement originated by Román Baldorioty de Castro and, toward the end of the century, by Luis Muñoz Rivera. In 1897, Muñoz Rivera and others persuaded the liberal Spanish government to agree to a Charters of Autonomy for Cuba and Puerto Rico. The following year, Puerto Rico's first, but short-lived, autonomous government was organized. The charter maintained a governor appointed by Spain, who held the power to annul any legislative decision he disagreed with, and a partially elected parliamentary structure.

Puerto Rico under United States rule

On July 25, 1898 at the outbreak of the Spanish–American War, Puerto Rico, being a colony of Spain, was invaded by the United States of America with a landing at Guánica. Spain was forced to cede Puerto Rico, along with Cuba and the Philippines, to the United States under the Treaty of Paris (1898) Template:Ref. The twentieth century began under the military regime of the United States with officials, including the governor, appointed by the President of the United States. In 1917, the Jones-Shafroth Act approved by the United States Congress granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship so that they could be recruited as soldiers for WWI (Puerto Ricans remain U.S. passport-holding citizens). Natural disasters and the Great Depression impoverished the island. Some political leaders demanded change; some, like Pedro Albizu Campos, would lead a nationalist (The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party) movement in favor of independence. He would eventually die by what he claimed was a conspiracy set in place by the U.S. Federal Government. Muñoz Marín initially favored independence, but saw a severe decline of the Puerto Rican economy, as well as growing violence and uprisings, at the hands of the U.S. government and opted to create the "commonwealth" option as an eventual stepping stone to full independence.

Image:Lmm.gif Change in the nature of the internal governance of the island came about during the later years of the RooseveltTruman administrations, as a form of compromise spearheaded by Luis Muñoz Marín and others, and which culminated with the appointment by President Harry S. Truman in 1946 of the first Puerto Rican-born governor, Jesus T. Piñero. In 1947, the United States granted the right to democratically elect the governor of Puerto Rico. Luis Muñoz Marín became the first elected governor of Puerto Rico in the 1948 general elections, serving as such for 16 years, until 1964.

Starting at this time, there was heavy migration from Puerto Rico to the continental U.S.A. in search of better economic conditions. In 1945 there were 13,000 Puerto Ricans living in New York City - by 1955 there were 700,000, and by the mid-1960s there were over a million.

On November 1, 1950, Puerto Rican nationalists Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo attempted to assassinate President Harry S. Truman. Subsequently, Truman allowed for a genuinely democratic referendum in Puerto Rico to determine whether Puerto Ricans desired to draft their own constitution Template:Ref.

Puerto Rico adopted its own constitution in 1952 which adopted the name "commonwealth" for the body politic and which is used by many as the name of Puerto Rico's current relationship with the United States Template:RefTemplate:Ref. During the 1950s Puerto Rico experienced a rapid industrialization, with such projects as Operation Bootstrap which aimed to industrialize Puerto Rico's economy from agriculture-based into manufacturing-based.

Present-day Puerto Rico has become a major tourist destination and a leading pharmaceutical and manufacturing center. Still, Puerto Rico continues to struggle to define its political status. Three locally-authorized plebiscites have been held in recent decades to decide whether Puerto Rico should request independence, enhanced commonwealth status, or statehood. Narrow victories by commonwealth supporters over statehood advocates have not yielded substantial changes in the relationship between the island and the United States. In the latest status referendum of 1998, "None of the above" won over statehood with 50.2% of the votes, and support for the pro-statehood party (Partido Nuevo Progresista or PNP) and the pro-commonwealth party (Partido Popular Democrático or PPD) is about equal. The only major independence party on the island, the Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño or PIP, usually receives 3-5% of the votes in the elections though there are several smaller independence groups like the Macheteros (or Boricua Popular Army). On December 22, 2005, a task force created by President Clinton and appointed by President George W. Bush called on Congress to hold the first federally-authorized vote ever for Puerto Rican voters to decide whether they wished to continue their current relationship, described as an unincorporated territory subject to the will of Congress, or whether they wish to choose in a subsequent vote among permanent non-territorial options, which the report enumerates as statehood or independence. The Legislature, as well as the political parties, were gearing up in early 2006 to lobby Congress to address the Presidential task force recommendations and consider a bill to implement the White House Task Force's recommendations.


Image:Rico.png Template:Main

Puerto Rico consists of a main island of Puerto Rico and various smaller islands, including Vieques, Culebra, Mona, Desecheo, and Caja de Muertos. Of the latter five, only Culebra and Vieques are inhabited year-round. Mona is uninhabited through large parts of the year except for employees of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources.

The mainland measures some 105 miles by 35 miles (170 km by 60 km). It is mostly mountainous with large coastal areas in the north and south regions of the island. Some beautiful beaches on the north-west side of the island are Jobos Beach, Maria's Beach, Domes Beach and Sandy Beach. The main mountainous range is called "La Cordillera Central" (The Central Range). The highest elevation point of Puerto Rico, Cerro de Punta (4,390 ft; 1,338 m), is located in this range. Another important peak is El Yunque, located in the Caribbean National Forest, with a maximum elevation of 3,494 feet (1,065 m). The capital city, San Juan, is located on the main island's north coast.

Puerto Rico has 17 lakes (none of them natural) Template:Ref and more than 50 rivers. Most of these rivers are born in the "Cordillera Central." The rivers in the northern region of the island are bigger and with higher flow capacity than those of the south region. The south is thus drier and hotter than the north region.

Administrative divisions

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As an unincorporated territory of the United States (as recently defined by the White House), Puerto Rico does not have any first-order administrative divisions as defined by the U.S. Government, but there are 78 municipalities at the second level (Mona Island is not a municipality, but part of the municipality of Mayagüez). Municipalities are further subdivided into barrios, and those into sectors. Each municipality has a mayor and a municipal legislature elected for a 4 year term.

The first municipality (previously called "town") of Puerto Rico, San Juan, was founded in 1521. In the 16th century two more municipalities were established, Coamo (1570) and San Germán (1570). Three more municipalities were established in the 17th century. These were Arecibo (1614), Aguada (1692) and Ponce (1692). The 18th and 19th century saw an increase in settlement in Puerto Rico. 30 municipalities were established in the 18th century and 34 more were established in the 19th century. Only six municipalities were founded in the 20th century. The last municipality was Florida, founded in 1971 Template:Ref.


Image:PR Geology.gif Puerto Rico is composed of Cretaceous to Eocene volcanic and plutonic rocks, which are overlain by younger Oligocene to recent carbonates and other sedimentary rocks. Most of the caverns and karst topography on the island occurs in the northern Oligocene to recent carbonates. The oldest rocks are approximately 190 million years old (Jurassic) and are located at Sierra Bermeja in the southwest part of the island. These rocks may represent part of the oceanic crust and are believed to come from the Pacific Ocean realm. Puerto Rico lies at the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates. This means that it is currently being deformed by the tectonic stresses caused by the interaction of these plates. These stresses may cause earthquakes and tsunamis. These seismic events, along with landslides, represent some of the most dangerous geologic hazards in the island and in the northeastern Caribbean. The most recent major earthquake occurred on October 11, 1918 and had an estimated magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale. It originated off the coast of Aguadilla and was accompanied by a tsunami. Lying about 75 miles (120 km) north of Puerto Rico in the Atlantic Ocean at the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates is the Puerto Rico Trench, the largest and deepest trench in the Atlantic. The trench is 1,090 miles (1,754 km) long and about 60 miles (97 km) wide. At its deepest point (named Milwaukee Depth), it is 27,493 feet deep (8,380 m), or about 5.2 miles.



Puerto Rico has sometimes been said to have a European (Spanish) descent majority, an extinct Amerindian population, persons of mixed ancestry, Africans, and a small Asian minority. In August, 1999 a researcher at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez received a grant from the National Science Foundation to determine the continental origin of the mtDNA of Puerto Ricans through the analysis of a representative sample. The results of the analysis of approximately 300 samples identify 62% as having Amerindian maternal mitochondrial DNA, 30% as having African maternal mitochondrial DNA and 8% as having Caucasian maternal mitochondrial DNA Template:Ref. Conversely, patrilineal input as indicated by the Y chromosome, showed that 70% of all Puerto Rican males have inherited Y chromosome DNA from a male European ancestor, 20% have inherited Y chromosome DNA from a male African ancestor and less than 10% have inherited Y chromosome DNA from male Amerindian ancestor. Making Amerindian, European and African the three largest components of the Puerto Rican genetic pool. These results cast doubt on the notion that the Tainos disappeared from Puerto Rico by the end of the sixteenth century.

During the 1800s, hundreds of Corsican, French, Lebanese, Chinese, and Portuguese, along with a large numbers of immigrants from the Canary Islands and numerous Spanish loyalists from Spain's former colonies in South America, arrived in Puerto Rico. Other settlers have included Irish, Scots, Germans, and many others who were granted land from Spain during the Cedula de Gracias of 1815, which allowed European Catholics to settle in the island with a certain amount of free land. A census conducted by royal decree on September 30,1858, gives the following totals of the Puerto Rican population at this time, Whites 300,430 (many of the inhabitants, classed as white, have, both in their features and manners, definite traces of the Indian race, mestizo), Free colored 341,015, Slaves 41,736, Unclassified 127, this census also clearly verifies Puerto Rico's diverse Ancestral heritage. More recently Puerto Rico has become the permanent home of over 100,000 legal residents who immigrated from not only Spain, but from Latin America as well. Argentines, Cubans, Dominicans, Colombians, Panamanians and Venezuelans can also be accounted for as settlers. The variety of surnames which exist in Puerto Rico suggests widespread immigration to the island from many regions.

Emigration has been a major part of Puerto Rico's recent history as well. Starting in the Post-WWII period, due to poverty, cheap airfare, and promotion by the island government, waves of Puerto Ricans moved to the United States, particularly to New York City and Hartford, Connecticut. This continued even as Puerto Rico's economy improved and its birth rate declined. Emigration continues at the present time, and this, combined with Puerto Rico's greatly lowered birth rate, suggests that the island's population will age rapidly and start to decline sometime within the next couple of decades.

In the 2000 U.S. Census Puerto Ricans were asked to identify which racial category with which they personally identify. 95.8% answered with only one choice. The breakdown is as follows: 80.5% described themselves as "white"; 8% described themselves as "Black"; and only 0.4% described themselves as "Native American" Template:Ref. These figures demonstrate that racial terms are relative, not absolute, and highlight the potential for confusion when they are used in a definitive and distinct way. Also 95% of the population consider themselves of Puerto Rican descent (regardless of race or skin color), making Puerto Rico one of the most culturally homogenous societies in the world.


The official languages of the island are Spanish and English. Spanish is the primary language in government; English is taught as a foreign language in schools. As of 1996, an estimated 3,437,120 people used Spanish as their primary language; for 82,000, English was the primary tongue. While relatively few Puerto Ricans use English as their main language, the large majority of residents living in metropolitan areas are bilingual.

In 1991, Governor Rafael Hernández Colón signed a law declaring Spanish as the sole official language of the island's government. Upon signing this law into effect, English had lost its status as an official second language. While many applauded the governor's decision, mainly members of the parties supporting commonwealth-status and indepedence, statehood supporters saw it as a threat to their ideology. The signing of the law also brought the island acclaim, as the people of Puerto Rico won the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award in literature in 1991. The award is given annually to individuals and organizations worldwide for their defense and contribution to the growth of the Spanish language by Principe Felipe of Spain Template:Ref.

Upon his election as governor in 1993, Governor Pedro Rosselló overturned the law and re-established English as an official language. This was seen by many as a move by the pro-statehood governor to move the island closer to statehood, something that never came about under his two consecutive four-year terms.


The Roman Catholic religion has been historically dominant and is the religion of the majority of Puerto Ricans, although the presence of Protestant, Latter-Day Saint (Mormon) and Jehovah's Witnesses denominations has increased under American sovereignty, making modern Puerto Rico an interconfessional country. Protestantism was repressed under the Spanish regime. For example, the first non-Catholic church, Holy Trinity Anglican church in Ponce, now a parish of the Diocese of Puerto Rico of the Episcopal Church of the United States, was not allowed to ring its church bell until American troops marched through Ponce after landing at Guánica harbor on July 25, 1898.

There is a relatively small but diverse Jewish community in and around San Juan with a Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox house of prayer. There is as well a Muslim community with worship places in different parts of the island. The three main mosques are located in Rio Piedras, Ponce, and Vega Alta.

Taíno religious practices have to a degree been rediscovered/reinvented by a few handfuls of advocates. Kongo belief, known as Mayombe or Palo, has been around since the days of the arrival of enslaved Africans. Although Santeria (stronger and more organized in Cuba) is practiced by some, Palo Mayombe (sometimes called an African belief system, but rather a way of Bantu lifestyle of Congo origin) finds more adherence among individuals who practice some form of African Traditional Religion.



The government of Puerto Rico is based on the Republican system composed of 3 branches: the Executive branch headed by the Governor, the Legislative branch consisting of a bicameral Legislative Assembly (a Senate and a House of Representatives) and the Judicial branch. The legal system is based on a mix of the Civil Law and the Common Law systems. The governor as well as legislators are elected by popular vote every four years. Members of the Judicial branch are appointed by the governor and approved by the senate. Puerto Rico is divided into 78 municipalities, each of which elect a mayor and a municipal legislature.

In 1950, the U.S. Congress afforded Puerto Ricans the right to organize a constitutional convention, contingent on the results of a referendum, where the electorate would determine if they wished to organize their own government pursuant to a constitution of their own choosing. Puerto Ricans expressed their support for this measure in a 1951 referendum, which gave voters a yes-or-no choice for the commonwealth status, defined as a ‘permanent association with a federal union’. A second referendum was held to approve the constitution, which was adopted in 1952. Prior to approving the new constitution, the Constitutional Convention specified the name by which the body politic would be known. The convention on February 4 of 1952 approved resolution 22 which chose in English the word “Commonwealth”, meaning a “politically organized community” or “State”, which is simultaneously connected by a compact or treaty to another political system. Unable to translate the word into Spanish, the convention adopted a translation inspired by the Irish Free State called “Estado Libre Asociado” (ELA) to represent the compact between the people of Puerto Rico and the United States, which is literally translated into English as “Associated Free State”.

Under the 1952 constitution, Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth (use many benefits of the U.S.) and is permitted a degree of autonomy similar to that of a state of the Union. Puerto Rico does not have voting representation in the U.S. Congress; neither does it have any electors in the U.S. Electoral College, and therefore Puerto Rican citizens do not participate in the U.S. Presidential elections, although political parties can, and do, have state-like voting delegations to the nominating conventions of both major national parties. A non-voting Resident Commissioner is elected by the residents of Puerto Rico to the U.S. Congress acting as a delegate of the people of Puerto Rico. Residents of the island do not pay federal income tax on income from island sources, although they pay federal payroll taxes, which have a particularly heavy impact on Puerto Rico's relatively low-income workers. Although they pay hefty local taxes, island residents are not subject to federal income taxation, as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that the United States treaty that acquired Puerto Rico from Spain superseded the United States Constitution, so that the United States citizens of Puerto Rico are not subject to the Revenue Clause of the United States Constitution. Further, island residents pay social security taxes and other federal taxes. Also, they have limited, or no, access to several key federal programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), from which Puerto Rico is excluded, Medicaid, in which Puerto Rico receives less than 15% of the funding it would be alloted as a state, and Medicare, in which Puerto Rico pays fully but only receives partial benefits. As statutory U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans are subject to military service and most federal laws.

For the past fifty years, a single issue has dominated Puerto Rican politics: its political status vis-à-vis the United States. A Commonwealth associated to the U.S. since 1952, Puerto Rico today is torn by profound ideological rifts, as represented by its political parties, which stand for the current relationship or the two distinct future political scenarios: the status quo, statehood, and independence. The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) seeks to maintain or improve the current status, the New Progressive Party (PNP) seeks to fully incorporate Puerto Rico as a U.S. state, and the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) seeks national independence.

In 1967, the Legislative Assembly tested political interests of the Puerto Rican people by passing a plebiscite Act that allowed a vote on the status of Puerto Rico. This constituted the first plebiscite by the Legislature for a choice on three status options. Puerto Rican leaders had lobbied for such an opportunity repeatedly, in 1898, 1912, 1914, 1919, 1923, 1929, 1932, 1939, 1943, 1944, 1948, 1956, and 1960. Following the plebiscite, efforts in the 1970s to enact legislation to address the status issue died in Congressional committees. In a 1993, in which Congress played a more substantial role, and in a 1998 plesbicite the status quo, Commonwealth status, was upheld. Template:Ref

Because past processes for self-determination in Puerto Rico have not had Congressional support, the political parties in power have manipulated ballot options to favor the alternative of their predilection. The other political parties tend to resist and voice their concerns over the legitimacy of the process. Ultimately, every vote fails as either non-binding upon United States Congress or because viable and appropriate status options have been excluded from the ballot.

Puerto Ricans living on the island are not counted among the Hispanics residing in the U.S.; in fact, they are not included in the U.S. population count at all, although all Puerto Ricans are statutory U.S. citizens. Puerto Rico also is not included in the Current Population Surveys that the Census Bureau conducts to update its decennial census.

Puerto Rico's political status and international law

Although Puerto Rico is, politically speaking, an unincorporated territory of the United States classified as a Commonwealth, Puerto Ricans and people from other nations refer to Puerto Rico as a país, the Spanish word for country. This is a very common and accepted international status given to all dependent territories, also called dependent "states" by the United Nations although on many ocassions it has been thought of as a possibilty that Puerto Rico would become the 51st State of the United States of America. The United Nations has intervened in the past to evaluate the legitimacy of Puerto Rico's political status, to ensure that the island's government structure complies with the standards of self-government that constitute the basic tenets of the United Nations Charter, its covenants, and its principles of international law.

On November 27 1953, shortly after establishment of the Commonwealth, the General Assembly of the UN approved Resolution 748, removing Puerto Rico’s classification as a non-self-governing territory under article 73(e) of the Charter of the United Nations. The resolution garnered a favorable vote of fewer than 40% of the General Assembly, with over 60% abstaining or voting against it (20 to 16, with 18 abstentions). This resolution has not been revoked by the UN even though the political status is still debated in many international forums.

For a territory to be deemed self-governing, the United Nations require:

"(a) Legislative representation. Representation without discrimination in the central legislative organs, on the same basis as other inhabitants and regions [within the governing nation].
(b) Participation of the population. Effective participation of population in the government of the territory
(1) Is there an adequate and appropriate electoral and representation system?
(2) Is this electoral system conducted without direct or indirect interference from a foreign government?
(c) Citizenship. Citizenship without discrimination on the same basis as other inhabitants
(d) Government officials. Eligibility of officials from the territory for all public offices of the central authority, by appointment or election, on the same basis as those from other parts of the country".

The General Assembly did not apply its list of criteria to Puerto Rico for determining whether or not self-governing status had been achieved. In fact, in a 1996 report on a Puerto Rico status political bill, the U.S. House Committee on Resources stated that Puerto Rico’s current status “does not meet the criteria for any of the options for full self government.” The House Committee concluded that Puerto Rico is still an unincorporated territory of the United States under the territorial clause, that the establishment of local self-government with the consent of the people can be unilaterally revoked by Congress, and that Congress can also withdraw at any time the American citizenship now enjoyed by the residents of Puerto Rico as long as it achieves a legitimate Federal purpose, in a manner reasonably related to that purpose.

Most people advocate that the status of Commonwealth has been, and continues to be, a temporary solution. According to a report by the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status, released in December 2005, it is not possible “to bind future Congresses to any particular arrangement for Puerto Rico as a Commonwealth”. This determination was based on articles in the U.S. Constitution regarding territories. The governor of Puerto Rico promised to challenge the task force report. On January 4 2006, Governor Anibal Acevedo Vilá announced the steps that he and the governing Popular Democratic Party will take in the following months. The historic resolution denounces the task force as a political fraud that represents a threat to democracy and is in violation of the basic agreements held between the people of Puerto Rico and the United States since 1952Template:RefTemplate:Ref. It also stated a compromise to challenge the task force report and validate the current status in all international forums including the United Nations. Also rejects any colonial or territorial status as a status option and vows to keep working for the enhanced commonwealth status that was approved by the PPD in 1998 which included:

(a) Sovereignty
(b) An association based on respect and dignity between both nations
(c) Common citizenship

As part of the PDP's strategy, a bill supporting its position was introduced in the United States Senate by two senators who have traditionally been identified with Puerto Rico, Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and two senators whose interest in all matters Puerto Rican was up to then unknown, Sens. Burr (R-NC) and Lott (R-MI). Since its introduction, the bill has not attracted any other co-sponsors, in spite of heavy lobbying on the part of Puerto Rico's Executive Branch lobbyists. A bipartisan Senate bill supporting the implementation of the White House report recommendations is expected to be filed shortly by Sens. Martinez (R-FL) and Salazar (D-CO).

On the other hand, Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño (R-PR) and Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-NY) filed a bipartisan House bill to implement the recommendations, which has been cosponsored by over 60 Republicans and over 40 Democrats, significantly more cosponsors than the Young Bill which cleared the House in 1998. The House Committee on Resources called a hearing on the subject on April 27, 2006, signalling a greater degree of interest than previously anticipated.



In the early 1900's the greatest contributor to Puerto Rico's economy was agriculture, its main crop being sugar. In the late 1940's a series of projects called Operation Bootstrap encouraged, using tax exemptions, the establishment of factories. Thus manufacturing replaced agriculture as the main industry.

The economic conditions in Puerto Rico have improved dramatically since the Great Depression due to external investment in capital-intensive industry such as petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, and technology. Once the beneficiary of special tax treatment from the U.S. government, today local industries must compete with those in more economically depressed parts of the world where wages are not subject to U.S. minimum wage legislation. In recent years, some U.S. and foreign owned factories have moved to lower wage countries in Latin America and Asia. Puerto Rico is subject to U.S. trade laws and restrictions.

Tourism is an important component of the Puerto Rican economy supplying an approximate $1.8 billion. In 1999 an estimated 5 million tourists visited the island, most from the United States. Nearly a third of these are cruise ship passengers. An increase in hotel registrations, which has been observed since 1998, and the construction of new hotels and the Puerto Rico Convention Center are indicators of the current strength of the tourism industry.

Puerto Ricans had a per capita GDP estimate of $17,700 for 2004 Template:Ref , which demonstrates a growth over the $14,412 level measured in the 2002 Current Population Survey by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund Template:Ref. In that survey, Puerto Ricans have a 48.2% poverty rate. By comparison, the poorest State of the Union, Mississippi, had a median level of $21,587, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, 2002 to 2004 Annual Social and Economic Supplements Template:Ref. Since 1952, the gap between Puerto Rico's per capita income and U.S. national levels has essentially remained unchanged — one third the U.S. national average and roughly half that of the poorest state.



The official national symbols of Puerto Rico are:

The unofficial national animal is the Coquí (Eleutherodactylus coqui).

Puerto Rico has its own representatives in beauty pageants including Miss World and Miss Universe. Puerto Rican beauty queens have won the Miss Universe pageant 4 times (1970, 1985, 1993, 2001), and the Miss World pageant once (1975). The island's contestant was second-runner up in the 2005 Miss World pageant, and currently has the title of Miss World Caribbean.



Education in Puerto Rico is divided into four levels. These are elementary, intermediate, high school and the university level. Students can attend either a public or a private school. Public schools are run by the state while private schools are run by private institutions, predominantly the Roman Catholic Church. The two public universities in Puerto Rico are the multi-campus University of Puerto Rico and the Colegio Universitario de San Juan operated by the city of San Juan. The largest private university systems on the island are the Ana G. Mendez University System (which operates the Turabo University, the Metropolitan University, and the Eastern University), the multi-campus Interamerican University, the Pontificial Catholic University, and the University of the Sacred Heart.

As of 2002, the literacy rate of the population was 94.1%. By gender, the literacy rate is 93.9% for males and 94.4% for females.


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Puerto Rico has an Olympic team in the Summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics, as well as international representation in many other sporting events including the Pan-American Games, the Central American Games, and the Caribbean World Series. Puerto Rican athletes have won 6 medals (1 silver, 5 bronze) in Olympic competition, the first one in 1948 by boxer Juan Evangelista Venegas.

Although boxing, basketball, volleyball and baseball are popular, traditionally baseball had been the most popular sport, until overcome by basketball mania. Puerto Rico has its own professional baseball leagues, though San Juan hosted the Montreal Expos for several series in 2002 and 2003 before they moved to Washington, D.C. and became the Washington Nationals. Puerto Rico has participated in the World Cup of Baseball winning 1 gold (1951), 4 silver and 4 bronze medals.

August 8, 2004 became a landmark date for Puerto Rico's national olympic team when the basketball team of Puerto Rico defeated the U.S. basketball team in Athens, Greece, the current defending gold medalist and basketball powerhouse. Template:Ref. On September 29, 2005 Major League Baseball announced that San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium would be one of the sites of the opening round as well as the second round of the newly formed World Baseball Classic, a 16-country tournament featuring top players, which was held in San Juan in March 2006. Puerto Rico fielded its own team in that event, composed mostly of MLB Puerto Rican-ancestry players. The team survived the opening round and was defeated in the second round. Neither Puertro Rico nor the United States teams made it to the finals, which was eventually won by Japan's team.

Flora and fauna

Template:Main articles As of 1998 Template:Ref, 239 plants, 16 birds and 39 amphibians/reptiles have been discovered that are endemic to the island of Puerto Rico or its smaller islands (Culebra, Vieques, Mona and Desecheo). The majority of these (234, 12 and 33 repectively) are found in the main island. The most recognizable endemic species and a symbol of Puerto Rican pride is the Coquí. The coquí is a small frog easily recognized by the sound from which it gets its name.

The Caribbean National Forest, also known as El Yunque (the name of its highest peak), is a tropical rainforest located in the eastern region of the main island. It is home to the majority (13 of 16) of species of coquí. It is also home to more than 240 plants, 26 of which are endemic and 50 bird species, including one of the top 10 endangered birds in the world, the Puerto Rican Parrot.

Did you know?

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See also

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  1. Template:Note Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra. Historia Geográfica, Civil y Natural de la Isla de San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico.
  2. Template:Note Vieques Island - What lies beneath.
  3. Template:Note Brief Chronology of Puerto Rico.
  4. Template:Note Treaty of Paris (1898).
  5. Template:Note Act of July 3, 1950, Ch. 446, 64 Stat. 319.
  6. Template:Note Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico - in Spanish (original).
  7. Template:Note Constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico - in English (translation).
  8. Template:NoteTemplate:Es icon Los Lagos de Puerto Rico.
  9. Template:Note LinktoPR.com - Fundación de los Pueblos.
  10. Template:NoteCurrent News about Puerto Rico's political status.
  11. Template:NoteTemplate:Es icon PPD Party Resolution #2006-02.
  12. Template:Note CIA - The World Factbook - Puerto Rico.
  13. Template:Note For the complete statistics regarding these plebiscites please refer to Elections in Puerto Rico:Results.
  14. Template:Note PRLDEF.
  15. Template:Note U.S. Census - Median Family Income.
  16. Template:Note Study about Puerto Rico Lineage.
  17. Template:NotePuerto Rico DP-1. Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000.
  18. Template:Note Fundación Príncipe de Asturias
  19. Template:NoteBBC Sports - Olympics 2004.
  20. Template:Note Island Directory.
  21. Template:Note Indian Country Today, October 6, 2003.
  22. Template:Note General Assembly Resolutions 8th Session United Nations.

External links

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Official sites

Countries in the Caribbean
Independent nations: Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas | Barbados | Cuba | Dominica | Dominican Republic | Grenada | Haiti | Jamaica | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Trinidad and Tobago
Dependencies: -British: Anguilla | British Virgin Islands | Cayman Islands | Montserrat | Turks and Caicos Islands | -Dutch: Aruba & Netherlands Antilles | -French: Guadeloupe & Martinique | -U.S.: Navassa Island | Puerto Rico | U.S. Virgin Islands

Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
Antigua and Barbuda | Bahamas¹ | Barbados | Belize | Dominica | Grenada | Guyana | Haiti² | Jamaica | Montserrat | Saint Kitts and Nevis | Saint Lucia | Saint Vincent and the Grenadines | Suriname | Trinidad and Tobago
Associate members: Anguilla | Bermuda | Cayman Islands | British Virgin Islands | Turks and Caicos Islands
Observer status: Aruba | Colombia | Dominican Republic | Mexico | Netherlands Antilles | Puerto Rico | Venezuela
¹ member of the community but not the CARICOM (Caribbean) Single Market and Economy.
² membership temporarly suspended.

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