Puerto Rico

unincorporated territory of the United States of America

Puerto Rico, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico), is a U.S. territory in the Caribbean Sea.[4] This means that it belongs to the United States and citizens of Puerto Rico are citizens of the United States as well. Puerto Rico is not an independent country, but like all populated U.S. territories, it enjoys a greater degree of autonomy than U.S. states. There has been a movement for independence for almost two centuries. There have been protests, votes, and armed attacks for independence.[5][6][7]

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
18°15′N 66°30′W / 18.25°N 66.5°W / 18.25; -66.5
Official languagesSpanish and English
Other languagesFrench, Taíno (historical, extinct)
Ethnic groups
  • 60% Mixed
  • 30% White
  • 10% Black
GovernmentRepublic, three-branch government
• President
Joe Biden (D)
• Governor
Pedro Pierluisi (NPP/D)
United States Congress
• Cession
December 10, 1898 incorporated as official territory of the
 United States
• 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[2] (N/A)
• Per capita
$24,229[2] (N/A)
Gini (2009)53.2[3]
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 about 3.3 million (3,300,000) people. Its political system is based on a republican system. It has two official languages: Spanish and English, but Spanish is almost only used by the government, the legislature and the judiciary (courts). Spanish is also the main language of the school curriculum, though English is taught in all schools as a second language (from grade 1 to 12). Puerto Rico is one of two U.S. territories where the metric system is officially used and is dominant. (The other is Guam, which was also a Spanish colony. The metric system was introduced to both territories, before they became U.S. territories.)[8] Spanish is spoken by 94.7% of the population and English is spoken by 5.3% of the population as a mother language. The currency used is the United States dollar.

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.

Puerto Rico means "rich port" in Spanish.

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]



Puerto Rico is one of the unincorporated territories of the USA. These are organized, self-governing territories with locally elected governors and legislatures. Because it is not a state, its citizens can not vote in U.S. national elections unless they have an address in one of the 50 US states. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and can move to or from the 50 states. 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.

In May 2022, Members of Congress sponsoring competing bills on how to resolve Puerto Rico’s territorial status and its relationship to the U.S. have come together to introduce new legislation combining both. The proposed legislation combines elements of the pro-statehood bill introduced by Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., and Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico’s nonvoting member of Congress and a Republican, alongside the Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act from Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Nydia Velázquez, both New York Democrats. The draft legislation says that a plebiscite to resolve Puerto Rico’s political status shall be held on November 5, 2023.[1]

On December 15, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the Puerto Rico Status Act. The act sought to resolve Puerto Rico's status and its relationship to the United States through a binding plebiscite.[15]



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 parties


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:

  • 60% Mulatto-White
  • 30% White
  • 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")[16] and Giannina Braschi[17] (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).[18] Puerto Rican poets who live in New York are called Nuyorican poets.

José Campeche (1751-1809) is the first known Puerto Rican painter.[19] 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.[20] In the 21st century, Allora and Calzadilla are conceptual artists in San Juan, Puerto Rico.[21]

Puerto Rico music is often called Latin music. There are many popular styes of Puerto Rican dance music, including Salsa, Bomba, Plena, and Reggaeton.[22] One of the most popular bands today is Calle 13.[23] 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.[22]



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.[24] 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.[25] Giannina Braschi is a contemporary political philosopher. She writes about freedom, immigration, revolution, and justice.[26] Braschi was inspired by a major Mexican woman philosopher Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz.[27] Puerto Rican philosophers are sometimes called Latinx philosophers or Latin American philosophers.[28]

Notable people from Puerto Rico


Melissa Cristina Márquez is a marine biologist from Puerto Rico.



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  3. https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/historical/state/state4.html Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine (in English)
  4. More exactly, it is an unincorporated territory.
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  18. 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.
  19. "Puerto Rican Counterpoint I". The Right to Look: 117–122. 2011. doi:10.1215/9780822393726-005. ISBN 978-0-8223-4895-5.
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  21. "Allora & Calzadilla | Artists | Lisson Gallery". www.lissongallery.com. Archived from the original on 2020-09-22. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Puerto Rico's Culture: Music". welcome.topuertorico.org. Archived from the original on 2020-09-19. Retrieved 2020-09-17.
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  25. Ramos, Francisco José (2020-10-27). The Holy Trinity. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 156–165. doi:10.2307/j.ctv193rr38.17. ISBN 978-0-8229-8759-8. S2CID 241105437.
  26. Aldama, Frederick Luis; O’Dwyer, Tess, eds. (2020-10-27). Poets, Philosophers, Lovers. University of Pittsburgh Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctv193rr38. ISBN 978-0-8229-8759-8. S2CID 240594860.
  27. "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.[permanent dead link]
  28. Vargas, Manuel (2018). Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Latinx Philosophy (Winter 2018 ed.). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Archived from the original on 2021-11-29. Retrieved 2021-08-01.