Puerto Rico

unincorporated territory of the United States

Puerto Rico, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is a U.S. territory in the Caribbean Sea.[5] This means that it is part of the United States and citizens of Puerto Rico are citizens of the United States as well. Puerto Rico is not an independent country, but there has been a movement for independence for almost two centuries. There have been protests, votes, and armed attacks for independence.[6][7][8]

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico  (Spanish)
Coat of arms of Puerto Rico
Coat of arms
Location of Puerto Rico
and largest city
San Juan
Official languagesSpanish and English
Other languagesFrench
Ethnic groups
  • 70% White
  • 22% Mixed
  • 8% Black
Demonym(s)Puerto Rican
GovernmentRepublic, three-branch government
• President
Joe Biden (D)
• Governor
Pedro Pierluisi (NPP/D)
United States Congress
United States United States[1]
• Cession
December 10, 1898 from
Spain Kingdom of Spain
• Autonomy
November 25, 1897 Supreme Authority and Sovereignty was retained by the Kingdom of Spain.[2]
• Total
9,104 km2 (3,515 sq mi) (169th)
• Water
1,809 sq mi (4,690 km2)
• Water (%)
• 2018 estimate
3,195,153 (127th in the world; 29th in U.S.)
• Density
418/km2 (1,082.6/sq mi) (21st in the world; 2nd in U.S.)
GDP (PPP)2007 estimate
• Total
$77.4 billion (N/A)
• Per capita
$19,600 (N/A)
GDP (nominal)2010 estimate
• Total
$96.26  billion[3] (N/A)
• Per capita
$24,229[3] (N/A)
Gini (2009)53.2[4]
high · ?th
CurrencyUnited States dollar (USD)
Time zoneUTC–4 (AST)
• Summer (DST)
UTC–4 (No DST)
Driving sideright
Calling code+1 (spec. +1-787 and +1-939)
ISO 3166 codePR
Internet TLD.pr
Christopher Columbus was the first European to visit Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has almost 4 million (4,000,000) people. Its political system is based on a republican system. It has two official languages: Spanish and English. The currency used is the United States dollar. Puerto Rico means "rich port" in Spanish.

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico includes the largest, main island and a number of smaller islands, including Mona, Vieques, and Culebra. Of those three smaller islands, only Culebra and Vieques are populated all year. Mona is unpopulated, but employees of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources sometimes visit the island to inspect it and its wildlife. People can visit the island for hiking and camping by getting the permission needed. San Juan, on the northern side of the main island, is the island's largest city and the capital of the territory. The common languages are Spanish spoken by 94.7% of the population and English, spoken by 5.3%.

On May 3, 2017, Puerto Rico filed for bankruptcy after a massive debt and weak economy.[9] It is the largest bankruptcy case in American history.[9]

Status with respect to the USAEdit

Puerto Rico is one of the unincorporated territories of the USA. Because it is not a state, citizens cannot vote in U.S. national elections unless they have an address in one of the 50 US states. These are organized, self-governing territories with locally elected governors and legislatures. Puerto Rico elects a Resident Commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives.[10]


The history of Puerto Rico began when the Ortoiroid people started living in the island between 3000 and 2000 BC. Other tribes, for example the Saladoid and Arawak Indians, lived in the island between 430 BC and 1000 AD. When Christopher Columbus arrived at the island in 1492 and named it San Juan Bautista,[11] the people living there were the Taínos.[12][13]

Since it is in the northeastern Caribbean Sea, Puerto Rico formed an important part of the Spanish Empire from the early years of the exploration, conquest, and colonization of the New World. The Spanish spread race-based slavery across the island. In the 19th century, slave revolts and the abolitionist movement brought an end to legal slavery.[14]

The island was a major military post during many wars between Spain and other European countries for control of the region in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. In 1898, during the Spanish-American war, Puerto Rico was invaded and became a possession of the United States.

During the 20th century, Puerto Rico's political status changed from time to time. The Foraker Act of 1900 created a civil government to replace the military government made after the Spanish–American war, and the Jones Act of 1917 gave Puerto Rican people United States citizenship. Afterwards, in 1952, the drafting of Puerto Rico's own Constitution and democratic elections were established.

The political status of Puerto Rico, a Commonwealth controlled by the United States, is still not completely defined. Many people want to resolve this status, while others want the status to remain the same. Of the people who want to change the status, some want Puerto Rico to become a new U.S. state, while others want Puerto Rico to become a fully independent country.


Puerto Rico is an archipelago, with a main island where most of the population lives, two smaller islands (Vieques and Culebra) with residents, and many other smaller islands. The main island has a mountain range in the center, which covers most of the island. The highest point is 4,390 feet (1,338 meters)

Political partiesEdit

Puerto Rico has three main political parties: the Puerto Rican Independence Party, which favors Puerto Rico becoming an independent nation; the New Progressive Party, which supports Puerto Rico's transition to becoming a state of the U.S; and the Popular Democratic Party, which supports Colonialism.

The issue of the political status of the island (meaning whether it's a country, a U.S state, or a colony) is an issue of debate amongst the Puerto Rican people. In the past there have been many attempts to clearly define the island's political status by means of voting. Most of the time the majority of the people have chosen to remain a colony. However, in the last "status voting" the colonial option appeared to have lost well over 90% of its support, while the U.S state option has only gained strength in the last few decades. The Puerto Rican Independence party, on the other hand, has mainly lost a great deal of support within the last six decades.


Puerto Rico is said to comprise a White majority, an extinct Amerindian population, persons of mixed ancestry, Africans and a small Asian minority. Recent genetic research, however, contradicts that information. According to the 2010 US Census, 99% of the population consider themselves of Puerto Rican descent (regardless of race or skin color), making Puerto Rico one of the most culturally unified societies in the world.

The population of Puerto Rico is nearly about 4 million people. The ethnic composition of the population is:

  • 70% White
  • 20% Mulatto
  • 10% Black



Puerto Rico has a strong literary tradition. The most important playwrights are René Marqués (author of "The Oxcart") and Lin Manuel Miranda (creator of the Broadway musical "Hamilton"). The most famous poets are Julia de Burgos ("Yo fui mi ruta")[15] and Giannina Braschi[16] (author the poetry epic "Empire of Dreams"). Celebrated Puerto Rican novelists include Rosario Ferre (Eccentric Neighborhoods), Giannina Braschi (United States of Banana), and Esmeralda Santiago (When I Was Puerto Rican).[17] Puerto Rican poets who live in New York are called Nuyorican poets.


José Campeche (1751-1809) is the first known Puerto Rican painter.[18] He painted in the best rococo style. Franciso Oller painted Puerto Rican landscapes and still life paintings the 19th Century. In the 20th century Franciso Rodón who paints portraits of celebrities.[19] In the 21st century, Allora and Calzadilla are conceptual artists in San Juan, Puerto Rico.[20]


Puerto Rico music is often called Latin music. There are many popular styes of Puerto Rican dance music, including Salsa, Bomba, Plena, and Reggaeton.[21] One of the most popular bands today is Calle 13.[22] World famous Puerto Rican singers include Jennifer Lopez, Hector Lavoe, Tito Puentes, and Marc Anthony. Ricky Martin won the 1999 Grammy Award for "Best Latin Pop Performance" for Living La Vida Loca.[21]


Puerto Rican philosophy deals with Puerto Rican independence, education, racism, and liberty for all. The first major Puerto Rican philosopher was Eugenio María de Hostos.[23] He was born in the 19th Century in Puerto Rico. He believed that Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba should unite to be free from Colonial powers. Francisco José Ramos was born in the 20th century. His philosophy deals with Ancient Greeks, American imperialism, and Buddhism.[24] Giannina Braschi is a contemporary political philosopher. She writes about freedom, immigration, revolution, and justice.[25] Braschi was inspired by a major Mexican woman philosopher Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz.[26] Puerto Rican philosophers are sometimes called Latinx philosophers or Latin American philosophers.[27]

Related pagesEdit


  1. "U.S. Department of State. Dependencies and Areas of Special Sovereignty". State.gov. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  2. "Carta Autonómica de 1897 de Puerto Rico". Lexjuris.com. Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Government Development Bank of Puerto Rico, May 2011" (PDF). gdb-pur.com. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-31. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
  4. https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/state/state4.html (in English)
  5. More exactly, it is an unincorporated territory.
  6. "Audio of Lolita Lebron at 1954 attack". Freedom Archives. Retrieved 2020-11-17.
  7. "El Grito de Lares". New York Latino Journal. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21.
  8. Qvortrup, Matt (2015-07-10). "Voting on Independence and National Issues: A Historical and Comparative Study of Referendums on Self-Determination and Secession". Revue Française de Civilisation Britannique. French Journal of British Studies. 20 (XX-2). doi:10.4000/rfcb.366. ISSN 0248-9015.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Puerto Rico files for biggest ever U.S. local government bankruptcy". Reuters. May 3, 2017.
  10. US General Accounting Office, U.S. Insular Areas: Application of the U.S. Constitution, November 1997, pp. 8, 14, 27, viewed September 3, 2015.
  11. "The second voyage of Columbus". World Book, Inc. Archived from the original on 2012-06-28. Retrieved 2006-2-11. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  12. Mahaffy, Cheryl (January 28, 2006). "Vieques Island - What lies beneath". canada.com. Edmonton Journal. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007. Retrieved 2006-2-11. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  13. Rouse, Irving. The Tainos : Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus ISBN 0-300-05696-6.
  14. Rodríguez-Silva, Ileana M. (2012). Silencing Race: Disentangling Blackness, Colonialism, and National Identities in Puerto Rico. Palgrave Macmillan US. ISBN 978-1-137-26321-6.
  15. Foundation, Poetry (2020-09-17). "Julia de Burgos". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  16. Poets, Academy of American. "About Giannina Braschi | Academy of American Poets". poets.org. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  17. Valens, K. (2012-11-01). "The Love of Neighbors: Rosario Ferre's Eccentric Neighborhoods / Vencindarios excentricos". Contemporary Women's Writing. 6 (3): 251–266. doi:10.1093/cww/vps026. ISSN 1754-1484.
  18. "Puerto Rican Counterpoint I". The Right to Look: 117–122. 2011. doi:10.1215/9780822393726-005.
  19. jmedranoartcollection (2014-03-10). "The Legend of Francisco Rodon". Puerto Rico Art Review & Art Collection. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  20. "Allora & Calzadilla | Artists | Lisson Gallery". www.lissongallery.com. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  21. 21.0 21.1 "Puerto Rico's Culture: Music". welcome.topuertorico.org. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  22. ivetteromero (2013-01-15). "The 12 Most Influential Puerto Ricans". Repeating Islands. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  23. "Eugenio María de Hostos | Puerto Rican author". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-08-01.
  24. Ramos, Francisco José (2020-10-27). The Holy Trinity:. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 156–165. ISBN 978-0-8229-8759-8.
  25. Aldama, Frederick Luis; O’Dwyer, Tess, eds. (2020-10-27). Poets, Philosophers, Lovers. University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 978-0-8229-8759-8.
  26. "A Conversation between Frederick Luis Aldama and Tess O'Dwyer, Co-Editors of Poets, Philosophers, Lovers: On the Writings of Giannina Braschi". Latin American Literature Today. 2021-02-19. Retrieved 2021-08-01.
  27. Vargas, Manuel (2018). Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Latinx Philosophy (Winter 2018 ed.). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.