|Puerto Rico||Introduction||Back to Top|
Puerto Rico, freely associated commonwealth of the United States, composed of one large island and several small islands. Officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico), Puerto Rico is bordered on the north by the Atlantic Ocean; on the east by the Virgin Passage (which separates it from the Virgin Islands); on the south by the Caribbean Sea; and on the west by the Mona Passage (which separates it from the Dominican Republic). Puerto Rico became a US commonwealth on July 25, 1952.Official Name- Puerto Rico
|Puerto Rico||Provinces||Back to Top|
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
|Puerto Rico||People||Back to Top|
Puerto Rico had 3,808,610 inhabitants, an increase of about 8.1 percent over the 1990 figure of 3,522,037. The population estimate for 2001 was 3,937,316. The average population density in 2001 was 439 persons per sq km (1,138 per sq mi), a higher density than for any state.
Puerto Rico and has a distinct dry season. The mean annual temperature at San Juan, in the north, is 27°C (80°F), and the city receives an average of 1,330 mm (52 in) of precipitation each year. The recorded temperature in the commonwealth has ranged from 4°C (40°F) in 1911 at Aibonito to 39°C (103°F) in 1906 at San Lorenzo. Puerto Rico is sometimes struck by damaging hurricanes traveling from the east, especially from August to October.
|Puerto Rico||History||Back to Top|
Christopher Columbus discovered the island in 1493. Under Spanish authority from that time until 1898, Puerto Rico's lack of resources resulted in neglect and minimal investment by the Spanish. San Juan, however, has one of the best harbours in the Caribbean, and the Spanish built fortifications to protect this asset for their vital oceanic trade routes. When the United States acquired Puerto Rico in 1898 as a result of the Spanish-American War, it found itself in control of a poor island whose inhabitants were mostly involved in small-scale agriculture. The social system at that time was Spanish and conservative; the people were mostly rural, poor, uneducated, Roman Catholic, and resistant to change. The sudden intrusion of capitalistic ideas and values assured a high degree of social and cultural conflict.
1508 Juan Ponce de León began the conquest of the island for Spain, and he served as the first governor from 1510 to 1512. The Spaniards enslaved the Taínos, who were largely exterminated as a result of harsh treatment and exposure to European diseases to which they had no resistance. As the Taínos were decimated, they were replaced by black African slaves who worked the plantations and sugar mills.
1898, as a result of the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded Puerto Rico to the United States by the Treaty of Paris. In 1900 the U.S. Congress established a civil government on the island. U.S. citizenship was granted to Puerto Ricans in 1917, and the United States instituted measures designed to solve various economic and social problems of the overpopulated island. From 1940 to 1948 a hydroelectric-power expansion program was instituted to attract U.S. industry and to provide more employment for Puerto Ricans. Irrigation projects were also initiated. During World War II (1939-1945) the island became a key U.S. military base. Naval bases were constructed in San Juan harbor and on Culebra and Vieques.
|Puerto Rico||Culture||Back to Top|
Modern Puerto Rico is generally well-off by Latin-American standards. Beginning in the 1940s, a political coalition between the Puerto Rican leader Luis Muñoz Marín and the U.S.-appointed governor, Rexford Guy Tugwell, was forged to promote a self-help program, called “Operation Bootstrap,” of economic development and social welfare. In a little more than four decades, much of the territory's crushing poverty was eliminated. This was done partly through emphasis on the development of manufacturing and service industries, the latter related to an enormous growth in tourism. Improvements have been made largely with the cooperation of the United States, but relationships with that country have also become a focal point of political turmoil. Various factions have bitterly disputed the political status of the island, and, although a majority voted to retain its commonwealth relationships, strong minorities have continued to push for statehood or—at times with violence—independence.
Puerto Rico’s mild climate and sandy beaches make it a popular recreation area, especially for swimming, fishing, boating, tennis, and golf. Both horse racing and cockfighting attract many spectators. Baseball, basketball, and boxing also are popular sports in Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico’s Spanish heritage is preserved in many sites in San Juan, especially in the insular part of the city known as Old San Juan. Among these sites are the El Morro and San Cristóbal fortresses, both part of San Juan National Historic Site; La Fortaleza, once a fortress and now the governor’s palace, its oldest section completed in 1540; Old Santo Domingo Convent, built between 1523 and 1528; and Fort San Gerónimo, completed in the late 18th century.
|Puerto Rico||Life||Back to Top|
The warm year-round climate in Puerto Rico and its abundant sunshine and coastal beaches attract 3 million tourists each year; spending by visitors was $2.1 billion in 1999. Their primary destination is the San Juan area, where numerous luxury hotels are located.
|Puerto Rico||Land||Back to Top|
Puerto Rico's mountainous backbone is the easternmost extension of a tightly folded and faulted ridge that extends from the Central American mainland across the northern Caribbean to the Lesser Antilles. While the highest point on the island reaches only about 4,389 feet (1,338 metres) at Mount Punta, there is a marine trough north of San Juan that plunges to more than 30,000 feet (9,144 metres) below sea level, one of the lowest ocean depths. The great difference in crustal elevations illustrates the strong tectonic forces that have operated in geologic history to create these features. Puerto Rico still occasionally suffers from earthquakes, reflecting the ongoing geologic processes. Rectangularly shaped, the island measures, at most, only about 111 miles from east to west and a mere 40 miles from north to south. Two important islands off the east coast, Vieques and Culebra, are also parts of Puerto Rico, as is the island of Mona to the west.
|Puerto Rico||Plants and Animal||Back to Top|
Puerto Rico, including the kapok tree with its thick trunk, the poinciana , the breadfruit, and the coconut palm. A tropical rain forest in the northeastern section of the island has tree ferns, orchids, and mahogany trees; part of this tropical area is included in the Caribbean National Forest. In the dry southwestern corner of Puerto Rico are cactus and bunch grass. Puerto Rico has no large wild mammals. The mongoose was brought in to control rats on sugarcane plantations. Iguanas and many small lizards abound, and bats are present. The island has one animal found almost nowhere else in the world—the coquí, a small tree frog that produces a loud, clear “song” from the branches of trees at night. Barracuda, kingfish, mullet, Spanish mackerel, tuna, lobster.
|Puerto Rico||Economy||Back to Top|
Economic development in Puerto Rico has historically lagged well behind that of most mainland states of the United States. Significant improvements have been made in economic conditions since the late 1940s, however, after the development program known as Operation Bootstrap was begun by the government. Growth has occurred largely through stimulation of the manufacturing sector. Much development has been concentrated in the San Juan metropolitan area. In the early 1990s manufacturing was the leading economic activity, and government, commerce, and tourism also were important sources of income.
Puerto Rico’s forest cover had been cut by about 1900, and despite concerted efforts after 1935 to replant trees, the forestry industry remains small. Commercial fishing plays a relatively minor role in Puerto Rico’s economy. Tuna species caught include yellowfin, skipjack, and bluefin. Small-scale freshwater fish farming is a growing economic activity; fish raised include bass, bluegill, and catfish.
Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. A diverse industrial sector has 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 nearly 5 million tourists in 1999. Prospects for 2001 are clouded by a probable slowing down in both the construction and tourist sectors and by increasing inflation, particularly in energy and food prices; estimated growth will be 2%.
|Puerto Rico||Communications||Back to Top|
modern system, integrated with that of the US by high-capacity submarine cable and Intelsat with high-speed data capability domestic: digital telephone system; cellular telephone service international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat; submarine cable to US
|Puerto Rico||Languages||Back to Top|
Spanish is the official language of the commonwealth. About 80 percent of the people are Roman Catholic. In 1999, 75 percent of the island’s inhabitants lived in areas defined as urban. The largest communities in Puerto Rico included San Juan, the capital; Bayamón; Carolina; Ponce; Caguas; and Mayagüez.
|Puerto Rico||Politics||Back to Top|
National Democratic Party [Celeste BENITEZ]; National Republican Party of Puerto Rico [Luis FERRE]; New Progressive Party or PNP [Pedro ROSSELLO]; Popular Democratic Party or PPD [Hector Luis ACEVEDO]; Puerto Rican Independence Party or PIP [Ruben BERRIOS Martinez]
|Puerto Rico||Government||Back to Top|
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is governed under a constitution of 1952, as amended. An amendment to the constitution may be proposed by the commonwealth’s legislature or by a constitutional convention. To become effective an amendment must be approved by a majority of persons voting on an issue in an election. Puerto Ricans share most rights and obligations of other U.S. citizens; residents of the commonwealth may not vote in U.S. presidential elections, however, and, except for federal employees and members of the U.S. armed forces, are not required to pay federal income taxes.
|Puerto Rico||Legal||Back to Top|
Legal system: based on Spanish civil code Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal; indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections Executive branch: chief of state: President George W. BUSH of the US (since 20 January 2001); Vice President Richard B. CHENEY (since 20 January 2001) head of government: Governor Sila M. CALDERON (since NA January 2001) cabinet: appointed by the governor with the consent of the legislature elections: US president and vice president elected on the same ticket for four-year terms; governor elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held NA November 2004) election results: Sila M. CALDERON (PDP) elected governor; percent of vote - 48.8% Legislative branch: bicameral Legislative Assembly consists of the Senate (28 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives (54 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: Senate - last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held NA November 2004); House of Representatives - last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held NA November 2004) election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PNP 19, PPD 7, PIP 1, other 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PNP 30, PPD 20, PIP 1, other 3 note: Puerto Rico elects one nonvoting representative to the US House of Representatives; elections last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held NA November 2004); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PPD 1 (Anibal ACEVEDO-VILA) Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Superior Courts; Municipal Courts (justices for all these courts appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate)
|Puerto Rico||organization||Back to Top|
Caricom (observer), ECLAC (associate), FAO (associate), ICFTU, Interpol (subbureau), IOC, WCL, WFTU, WHO (associate)
|Puerto Rico||Education||Back to Top|
Puerto Rico’s first free primary school was founded in the early 19th century in San Juan. By the late 1990s the commonwealth’s public schools annually enrolled about 452,000 elementary pupils and about 162,000 secondary students.
|Puerto Rico||Defence||Back to Top|
paramilitary National Guard, Police Force
Military - defense is the responsibility of the US
|Puerto Rico||International Disputes||Back to Top|
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