Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth
of Puerto Rico (Spanish: "Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico")
is a semi-autonomous territory composed of an archipelago in the
northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west
of the Virgin Islands, approximately 1,280 miles (2,000 km) off
the coast of Florida (the nearest of the mainland United States).
The archipelago includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number
of smaller islands and keys. The island Puerto Rico is the smallest
by land area but third largest by population among the Greater Antilles
(Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico). The largest of the
other archipelago islands are Mona, Vieques, and Culebra. Puerto
Ricans sometimes call the island Borikén, or in Spanish Borinquen,
a name for the island used by indigenous Taíno people. The
current term boricua derives from the Taíno name for the
island, and is commonly used to identify oneself as Puerto Rican.
Puerto Rico is a commonwealth or unincorporated organized territory
of the United States, and its political status allows it "self-government
in respect of internal affairs and administration, subject to relevant
portions of the Constitution and the laws of the United States"
and the plenary powers of the U.S. Congress. It was allowed to establish
a constitution for the internal administration and to handle matters
of purely local concern, but "matters of currency, defense,
external relations, interstate commerce", "postal system,
social security, and mining activities and minerals, among other
areas" are within the jurisdiction of the U.S. federal government.
The Jones-Shafroth Act or Jones Act (Puerto Rico), a 1917 statute
sponsored by Representative William Atkinson Jones on the United
States Congress conferred U.S. citizenship on Puerto Ricans. Puerto
Rico has a republican form of government, subject to U.S. jurisdiction
and sovereignty. Its current powers are all delegated by the
U.S. Congress and lack full protection under the U.S. Constitition.
The nature of Puerto Rico's political relationship with the U.S.
is the subject of ongoing debate in Puerto Rico, in the United States
Congress and in the United Nations. Recently two reports
have been issued by the U.S. President-appointed Task Force,
the latest of which was issued on December 21, 2007. The Popular
Democratic Party (PDP), founders of Puerto Rico's current political
status, has challenged the task force reports, stating that it had
been under the impression that in 1953 Puerto Rico enacted a "new
constitution that was entered into in the nature of a pact between
the American and the Puerto Rican people" that was recognized
by the UN (subject to continued monitoring). The Popular Democratic
Party (PDP) administration also holds the view that "if the
Task Force and the Bush Administration stand by their 2005 conclusions
(which occurred on Dec. 21, 2007), then for over 50 years the U.S.
government has perpetuated a 'monumental hoax' on the people of
Puerto Rico, on the people of the United States and on the international
On the other hand, the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico's
Political Status in its December 21, 2007 report, argues that it
is not breaking new ground. The United States Department of Justice
affirmed the Commonwealth's territorial status in 1959, shortly
after the enactment of Public Law 600. The U.S. Supreme Court has
held that Puerto Rico remains fully subject to the authority of
Congress under the Territory Clause of the U.S. Constitution
(See, e.g., Harris v. Rosario, 446 U.S. 651 1980). The report also
explains that the U.S. in its official written submission to the
UN in 1953, never represented that Congress could not change its
relationship with Puerto Rico without the territory's consent, prior
to the official submission, the U.S. representative to the UN indicated
orally that common consent would be needed to make changes to the
relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States. The
remaining two-major parties New Progressive Party and the Puerto
Rican Independence Party welcomed the recommendations of both reports.
2.1 Pre-Columbian era
2.2 Spanish colony
2.3 Under United States sovereignty
5.1.1 Administrative divisions
5.2 Political history
5.2.1 International status
5.2.2 Political status within the United States
5.2.3 Recent developments on status
5.3 Political parties
8.1 Land transportation
8.2 Air transportation
8.3 Ocean transportation
9 See also
11 Further reading
12 External links
Main article: Geography of Puerto Rico
Map of Puerto Rico.Puerto Rico consists of the 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. There are also many other even
smaller islands including Monito and "La Isleta de San Juan"
which includes Old San Juan and Puerta de Tierra.
Puerto Rico has an area of 5,324 sq mi (13,790 km²), of which
3,515 sq mi (8,870 km²) is land and 1,809 sq mi (4,920 km²)
is water. The maximum length from east to west from Punta Puerca
to Punta Higuero of 110 miles (180 km) and with a maximum width
from north to south from Isabela to Punta Colón of 40 miles..
It is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined, slightly smaller
than Connecticut. It is also smaller than Jamaica and so is the
smallest of the Greater Antilles. It is mostly mountainous with
large coastal areas in the north and south regions of the island.
The main mountainous range is called "La Cordillera Central"
(The Central Range). The highest elevation point of Puerto Rico,
Cerro de Punta (4,390 feet; 1,338 m), is located in this range.
Another important peak is El Yunque, one of the highest in the Sierra
de Luquillo at the El Yunque National Forest, with an elevation
of 3,494 feet (1,065 m). The capital, San Juan, is located on the
main island's north coast.
Main article: Geology of Puerto Rico
Illustration of the Puerto Rico Trench.Puerto Rico is composed of
Cretaceous to Eocene volcanic and plutonic rocks, overlain by younger
Oligocene and more recent carbonates and other sedimentary rocks.
Most of the caverns and karst topography on the island occurs in
the northern region in the carbonates. The oldest rocks are approximately
190 million years old (Jurassic) and are located at Sierra Bermeja
in the southwest part of the island. They may represent part of
the oceanic crust and are believed to come from the Pacific Ocean
Puerto Rico lies at the boundary between the Caribbean and North
American plates and is being deformed by the tectonic stresses caused
by their interaction. 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
The Puerto Rico Trench, the largest and deepest trench in the Atlantic,
is located about 75 miles (120 km) north of Puerto Rico in the Atlantic
Ocean at the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates.
It is 1,090 miles (1,754 km) long and about 60 miles (97 km) wide.
At its deepest point, named the Milwaukee Deep, it is 27,493 feet
(8,380 m) deep, or about 5.2 miles (8.38 km).
Located in the tropics, Puerto Rico enjoys an average temperature
of 82.4 °F (28 °C) throughout the year. The seasons do not
change drastically. The temperature in the south is usually a few
degrees higher than the north and temperatures in the central interior
mountains are always cooler than the rest of the island. Hurricane
season spans June to November. The all-time low in Puerto Rico has
been 40 °F (4 °C) in Aibonito and 60 °F (16 °C)
in San Juan.
Puerto Rico has 17 lakes, all man-made, and more than 50 rivers,
most born in the Cordillera Central. Rivers in the northern region
of the island are typically larger and with higher water flow rates
than those of the south, since the south receives less rain than
the central and north regions.
Main article: Fauna of Puerto Rico
Species endemic to the archipelago are 239 plants, 16 birds and
39 amphibians/reptiles, recognized as of 1998. Most of these (234,
12 and 33 respectively) are found on the main island. The most
recognizable endemic species and a symbol of Puerto Rican pride
is the Coquí, a small frog easily recognized by the sound
from which it gets its name. Most subspecies (13 of 16) live in
the El Yunque National Forest in the north east, a tropical rainforest
previously known as the Caribbean National Forest. 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 Amazon. The Guánica Dry Forest Reserve in the south
west, 10,000 acres (40 km²) of dry land contains over 600 uncommon
species of plants and animals, including 48 endangered species and
16 endemic to Puerto Rico.
Main article: History of Puerto Rico
Taíno Village at the Tibes Ceremonial CenterThe history of
the archipelago of Puerto Rico (Spanish for "rich port")
before the arrival of Christopher Columbus is not well understood.
What is known today comes from archaeological findings and from
early Spanish accounts. The first comprehensive book on the history
of Puerto Rico was written by Fray Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra
in 1786, 293 years after the first Spaniards arrived on the island.
The first indigenous settlers were the Ortoiroid, an Archaic age
culture. An archaeological dig in the island of Vieques in 1990
found the remains of what is believed to be an Arcaico (Archaic)
man (named Puerto Ferro man) dated to around 2000 BC. The Arcaico
Indians, hunters and fishermen, were the first inhabitants Puerto
Rico. Between AD 120 and 400, the Igneri, a tribe from the Orinoco
region, arrived. Between the 4th and 10th centuries, the Arcaicos
and Igneri co-existed (and perhaps clashed) on the island. Between
the 7th and 11th century the Taíno culture developed on the
island and by approximately 1000 AD had become dominant. This
lasted until Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492. In 1494,
The Spanish were attacked, but survived and won the battle.[citation
When Christopher Columbus arrived at Puerto Rico during his second
voyage on November 19, 1493, the island was inhabited by a group
of Arawak Indians known as Taínos. They called the island
"Borikén" or, in Spanish, "Borinquen".
Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of Saint John
the Baptist. Later the island took the name of Puerto Rico (English:
Rich Port) while the capital was named San Juan. In 1508, Spanish
conquistador Juan Ponce de León became the island's first
governor to take office.
The Spanish soon colonized the island. Taínos were forced
into slavery and were decimated by the harsh conditions of work
and by diseases brought by the Spaniards. African slaves were introduced
to replace them. Puerto Rico soon became an important stronghold
and port for the Spanish Empire in the Caribbean, gaining the title
La Llave de las Americas ("The Key of the Americas").
But during the late 17th - 18th centuries colonial emphasis was
on the more prosperous mainland territories, leaving the island
impoverished of settlers. By the early 18th century there were less
than 10,000 Taíno Indians primarily inhabiting the central
mountainous region (Las Cordillas), the areas currently consisting
of the municipalities of Orocovis, Morovis, Ciales and Corozal.
Various forts and walls were built over the centuries to protect
the port of San Juan from European enemies — such as La Fortaleza,
El Castillo San Felipe del Morro and El Castillo de San Cristóbal.
France, The Netherlands and England made several attempts to capture
Puerto Rico but failed to wrest long-term occupancy.
Garita at Fort San Felipe del MorroIn 1809, while Napoleon I occupied
most of the Iberian peninsula, a populist assembly based in Cádiz
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. These 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.
The Original Lares Revolutionary Flag.Toward the end of the 19th
century, poverty and political estrangement with Spain led to a
small but significant two-day long uprising in 1868 known as "Grito
de Lares". It began in the rural town of Lares but was easily
and quickly crushed when rebels moved to the neighboring town of
San Sebastian, Puerto Rico. 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
The following year in 1898, Puerto Rico's first, but short-lived,
autonomous government was organized as an 'overseas province' of
Spain. The charter maintained a governor appointed by Spain, which
held the power to annul any legislative decision it disagreed with,
and a partially elected parliamentary structure. In February, Governor
General Manuel Macías inaugurated the new government under
the Autonomous Charter, this gave town councils complete autonomy
in local matters. Subsequently, the governor had no authority to
intervene in civil and political matters unless authorized to do
so by the Cabinet. General elections were held in March and the
autonomous government began to function on 17 July 1898, but not
Under United States sovereignty
On July 25, 1898 during the Spanish–American War, Puerto Rico
was invaded by the United States with a landing at Guánica.
As an outcome of the war, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, along with Cuba,
the Philippines, and Guam to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris.
Puerto Rico began the 20th century under the military rule of the
U.S. with officials, including the governor, appointed by the President
of the United States. The Foraker Act of 1900 had given Puerto Rico
a certain amount of popular government, including a popularly-elected
House of Representatives. By 1917, the Jones-Shafroth Act granted
Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship — which they still hold —
and provided for a popularly-elected Senate to complete a bicameral
elected Legislative Assembly. Until the first gubernatorial election
in 1948, the Presidency of the Senate and the Resident Commissioner
seat in Congress were held by Puerto Rico's top politicians.
Many Puerto Ricans served in the United States Armed Forces beginning
in World War I. Natural disasters, including a major earthquake,
a tsunami (1918 Puerto Rico earthquake) and several hurricanes,
and the Great Depression impoverished the island. Some political
leaders demanded change; some, like Pedro Albizu Campos, led a nationalist
(The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party) movement in favor of independence.
Campos and other nationalists lead a revolt (known as The Jayuya
Uprising) against the United States which occurred on October 30,
1950 in the town of Jayuya, Puerto Rico in which lasted for three
days. The United States declared martial law in Puerto Rico and
sent the Puerto Rico National Guard to attack Jayuya. The town was
attacked by land with infantry and artillery and by bombers of the
U.S. Airforce. He served many years in prison for seditious conspiracy
to overthrow the U.S. government in Puerto Rico. Luis Muñoz
Marín initially favored independence, but saw a severe decline
of the Puerto Rican economy and growing violence and uprisings,
and opted to support the "commonwealth" option instead
like some predecessors.
The internal governance changed during the latter years of the
Roosevelt–Truman administrations, as a form of compromise
led by Muñoz Marín and others. It culminated with
the appointment by President Truman in 1946 of the first Puerto
Rican-born governor, Jesus T. Piñero. In 1947, the U.S. granted
the right to democratically elect the governor of Puerto Rico. Muñoz
Marín became the first elected governor in the 1948 general
elections, and served for 16 years, until 1964.
Starting at this time, there was heavy migration from Puerto Rico
to the Continental United States, particularly New York City, in
search of better economic conditions. Puerto Rican migration to
New York displayed an average yearly migration of 1,800 for the
years 1930-1940, 31,000 for 1946-1950, 45,000 for 1951-1960, and
a peak of 75,000 in 1953. As of 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau
estimates that more people of Puerto Rican birth or ancestry live
in the US than in Puerto Rico.
On November 1, 1950, Puerto Rican nationalists Griselio Torresola
and Oscar Collazo attempted to assassinate President Harry S Truman.
That year, the Truman Administration allowed for a democratic referendum
in Puerto Rico whether Puerto Ricans desired to draft their local
constitution. A local constitution was approved by a Constitutional
Convention on February 6, 1952, approved by Congress and President
Truman on July 3 of that year and proclaimed by Gov. Muñoz
Marín on July 25, 1952, the anniversary of the 1898 arrival
of U.S. troops. Puerto Rico adopted the name of Estado Libre Asociado
(literally translated as "Free Associated State"), officially
translated into English as Commonwealth, for its body politic, the
name customarily used to denote the current relationship with the
U.S. During the 1950s Puerto Rico experienced a rapid industrialization,
due in large part to Operación Manos a la Obra ("Operation
Bootstrap") (an offshoot of FDR's New Deal) which aimed to
industrialize Puerto Rico's economy from agriculture-based to manufacturing-based.
Now Puerto Rico has become a major tourist destination and a leading
pharmaceutical and manufacturing center. Yet it still struggles
to define its political status. Three locally-authorized plebiscites
have been held in recent decades to decide whether Puerto Rico should
pursue independence, enhanced commonwealth status, or statehood.
The relationship with the U.S. has remained unchanged due to narrow
victories by commonwealth supporters over statehood advocates in
the first two plebiscites, and an unacceptable definition of commonwealth
by the pro-statehood leadership on the ballots in the third. In
the latest status referendum of 1998, the "none of the above"
option won over Statehood, a rejection by Commonwealthers of the
definition of their status on the ballots, with 50.2% of the votes.
Support for the pro-statehood party, Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP)
and the pro-commonwealth party, Partido Popular Democrático
(PPD) remains about equal. The only registered pro-independence
party, the Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño (PIP),
usually receives 3-5% of the electoral votes, though there are several
smaller independence groups like the Partido Nacionalista de Puerto
Rico ("Puerto Rican Nationalist Party"), el Movimiento
Independentista Nacional Hostosiano ("National Hostosian Independence
Movement"), and the Macheteros - Ejercito Popular Boricua ("Boricua
On 25 October 2006, the Puerto Rico State Department conferred
Puerto Rico Citizenship to Juan Mari Brás. The Puerto Rico
Supreme Court and the Puerto Rican Secretary of Justice determined
that the Puerto Rican citizenship exists and was recognized in the
Constitution of Puerto Rico, as in the Insular Cases (Casos Insulares
in Spanish) of 1901 through 1922 of the U.S. Supreme Court. Since
the summer of 2007, the Puerto Rico State Department has developed
the protocol to grant the Puerto Rican citizenship to Puerto Ricans.
Race - Puerto Rico - 2000 Census
Race Population % of Total
White 3,064,862 80.5%
Black/African American 302,933 8.0%
American Indian and Alaska Native 13,336 0.4%
Asian 7,960 0.2%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 1,093 0.0%
Some other race 260,011 6.8%
Two or more races 158,415 4.2%
Main article: Demographics of Puerto Rico
During the 1800s hundreds of Corsican, French, Lebanese, Chinese,
and Portuguese families arrived in Puerto Rico, along with large
numbers of immigrants from Spain (mainly from Catalonia, Asturias,
Galicia, the Balearic Islands, Andalusia, and the Canary Islands)
and numerous Spanish loyalists from Spain's former colonies in South
America. Other settlers have included Irish, Scots, Germans, Italians
and thousands others who were granted land by Spain during the Real
Cedula de Gracias de 1815 ("Royal Decree of Graces of 1815"),
which allowed European Catholics to settle in the island with a
certain amount of free land. This mass immigration during the 19th
century helped the population grow from 155,000 in 1800 to almost
a million at the close of the century. A census conducted by royal
decree on September 30, 1858, gives the following totals of the
Puerto Rican population at this time, with 300,430 identified as
Whites; 341,015 as Free colored; and 41,736 as Slaves. 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:
Argentines, Cubans, Dominicans, Colombians and Venezuelans.
Emigration has been a major part of Puerto Rico's recent history.
Starting soon after WWII, poverty, cheap airfare and promotion by
the island government caused waves of Puerto Ricans to move to the
continental United States, particularly to New York City, New York;
Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, and Camden, New Jersey; Chicago,
Illinois; Springfield and Boston, Massachusetts; Orlando, Miami
and Tampa, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Hartford, Connecticut;
Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, California. This continues as
Puerto Rico's economy improved and its birth rate declined.
Royal Decree of Graces, 1815In the 2000 U.S. Census Puerto Ricans
were asked to indicate in which racial categories they consider
themselves to belong; 80% described themselves as "white";
8% as "black"; 12% as "mulatto" and 0.4% as
"American Indian or Alaska Native". (The U.S.
Census does not consider Hispanic a race, and asks if a person considers
himself Hispanic in a separate question.)
A recent study of Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 800 Puerto Ricans
found that 61.1% had Amerindian maternal mtDNA, 26.4% African, and
12.5% Caucasian. 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% from
a male African ancestor, and fewer than 10% from a male Amerindian
ancestor. This suggests that the largest components of the Puerto
Rican genetic pool are European/Caucasian, Amerindian, and African,
in descending order.
The official languages of the island are Spanish and English. Spanish
is the primary language of Puerto Ricans, and English is taught
as a second language in public and private schools from elementary
levels to high school. The Spanish of Puerto Rico is well known
for some interesting linguistic features.
In 1991, Governor Rafael Hernández Colón signed a
law declaring Spanish as the sole official language of the island's
government. While some applauded this decision (mainly members of
the political parties supporting commonwealth-status and independence),
others opposed it, including statehood supporters. As a result of
his actions, the People of Puerto Rico won the Literature's Prince
of Asturias Award in 1991, which is awarded annually to those who
defend and contribute to the growth of the Spanish language.
Upon his election as governor in 1993, pro-statehood former Governor
Pedro Rosselló overturned the law enacted by his predecessor
and again established both English and Spanish as official languages.
The Roman Catholic Church has been historically the most dominant
religion of most Puerto Ricans. Puerto Rico had the first dioceses
in the Americas. The presence of various Protestant denominations
has increased under American sovereignty, making modern Puerto Rico
an interconfessional country. Protestantism was suppressed under
the Spanish regime, but encouraged under American rule of the island.
Taíno religious practices have to a degree been rediscovered/reinvented
by a handful of advocates. Various African religious practices have
been present since the arrival of African slaves. In particular,
the Yoruba beliefs of Santeria and/or Ifá, and the Kongo-derived
Palo Mayombe (sometimes called an African belief system, but rather
a way of Bantu lifestyle of Congo origin) find adherence among very
few individuals who practice some form of African traditional religion.
Main article: Economy of Puerto Rico
In the early 1900s the greatest contributor to Puerto Rico's economy
was agriculture and its main crop was sugar. In the late 1940s a
series of projects codenamed Operation Bootstrap encouraged, using
tax exemptions, the establishment of factories. Thus manufacturing
replaced agriculture as the main industry. Puerto Rico is classified
as a high income country by the World Bank.
Economic conditions have improved dramatically since the Great
Depression due to external investment in capital-intensive industries
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 Puerto Rican economy supplying
an approximate $1.8 billion. In 1999, an estimated 5 million tourists
visited the island, most from the U.S. Nearly a third of these are
cruise ship passengers. A steady increase in hotel registrations
since 1998 and the construction of new hotels and new tourism projects,
such as the Puerto Rico Convention Center, indicate the current
strength of the tourism industry.
See also: Tourism in Puerto Rico
Puerto Ricans had a per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $22,058
for 2006, which shows a growth over the $14,412 level measured
in the 2002 Current Population Survey by the Puerto Rican Legal
Defense and Education Fund. [not in citation given] In that
survey, Puerto Ricans had a 48.2% poverty rate. By comparison, the
poorest State of the Union, Mississippi, had a median level of $42,805,
according to the U.S. Census Bureau's Current Population Survey,
2002 to 2004 Annual Social and Economic Supplements. The gap
between Puerto Rico's per capita income and U.S. national levels
has essentially remained unchanged since 1952 — one third
the U.S. national average and roughly half that of the poorest state.
The United Nation's Human Development Index ranking is not regularly
available for Puerto Rico, though the UN Development Program assigned
it a .942 score in 1998, which would place it among the top 15 countries
in the HDI rankings.
See also: List of countries by Human Development Index
On May 1, 2006, the Puerto Rican government faced significant shortages
in cash flows, which forced the closure of the local Department
of Education and 42 other government agencies. All 1,536 public
schools closed, and 95,762 people were furloughed in the first-ever
partial shutdown of the government in the island's history.
On May 10, 2006, the budget crisis was resolved with a new tax reform
agreement so that all government employees could return to work.
On November 15, 2006 a 5.5% sales tax was implemented. Municipalities
are required by law to apply a municipal sales tax of 1.5% bringing
the total sales tax to 7%.
See also: 2006 Puerto Rico budget crisis
Main article: Government of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico's head of state is the President of the United States.
The government of Puerto Rico is based on the formal republican
system composed of three branches: the Executive branch headed by
the Governor, currently Anibal Acevedo Vila, the Legislative branch
consisting of a bicameral Legislative Assembly (a Senate and a House
of Representatives), headed by the President of the Senate, currently
Kenneth McClintock and the House Speaker, currently Jóse
Aponte Hernandez, and the Judicial branch, headed by the Chief Justice
of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, currently Federico Hernandez Denton.
The legal system is 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 with the "advice and consent" of the Senate.
Puerto Rico has limited representation in the U.S. Congress in
the form of a Resident Commissioner, currently Luis Fortuño,
a nonvoting delegate, and the current Congress had returned the
Commissioner's power to vote in the Committee of the Whole, but
not on matters where the vote would represent a decisive participation.
Puerto Rico although have elections governed by the Federal Election
Commission; Like the Resident Commissioner election and
the US Presidential Primary or Caucus of the Democratic Party and
the Republican Party.  By the reason that the United
States Constitution on the Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 just
grant presidential electors to the states (with the exception allowed
by the Twenty-third Amendment (1961): that grants presidential electors
to the District of Columbia) is not granted presidential electors
to Puerto Rico in the United States Electoral College.
Main article: Municipalities of Puerto Rico
As an unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico
does not have any first-order administrative divisions as defined
by the U.S. government, but has 78 municipalities at the second
level. Mona Island is not a municipality, but part of the municipality
of Mayagüez. Municipalities are subdivided into wards or
barrios, and those into sectors. Each municipality has a mayor and
a municipal legislature elected for a 4 year term.
The municipality of San Juan (previously called "town"),
was founded first, in 1521, San Germán in 1570, Coamo in
1579, Arecibo in 1614, Aguada in 1692 and Ponce in 1692. An increase
of settlement saw the founding of 30 municipalities in the 18th
century and 34 in the 19th. Six were founded in the 20th century;
the last was Florida in 1971.
Main article: Politics of Puerto Rico
This section's length may adversely affect readability.
Please discuss this issue on the talk page and help summarize or
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In 1950, the U.S. Congress gave 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'
but not choice for independence or statehood. A second referendum
was held to ratify the constitution, which was adopted in 1952.
Before approving the new constitution, the Constitutional Convention
specified the name by which the body politic would be known. On
February 4, 1952, the convention 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. The
convention adopted a translation into Spanish of the term, inspired
by the Irish saorstát (Free State) of "Estado Libre
Asociado" (ELA) to represent the agreement adopted "in
the nature of a compact" between the people of Puerto Rico
and the U.S. Literally translated into English, the phrase means
"Associated Free State."
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. The Commonwealth option, represented by the PDP,
won with an overwhelming majority of 60.4% of the votes. The Statehood
Republican Party and the Puerto Rico Independence Party boycotted
After the plebiscite, efforts in the 1970s to enact legislation
to address the status issue died in Congressional committees. In
the 1993 plebiscite, in which Congress played a more substantial
role, Commonwealth status was again upheld. In the 1998 plebiscite,
all the options were rejected when 50.3% of voters chose the "none
of the above" option, favoring the commonwealth status quo
On November 27, 1953, shortly after the establishment of the Commonwealth,
the General Assembly of the United Nations approved Resolution 748,
removing Puerto Rico's classification as a non-self-governing territory
under article 73(e) of the Charter from UN. But the General Assembly
did not apply its full list of criteria to Puerto Rico to determine
if it has achieved self-governing status. According to the White
House Task Force on Puerto Rico's Political Status in its December
21, 2007 report, the U.S., in its written submission to the UN in
1953, never represented that Congress could not change its relationship
with Puerto Rico without the territory's consent. It stated
that the U.S. Justice Department in 1959 reiterated that Congress
held power over Puerto Rico pursuant to the Territorial Clause
of the U.S. Constitution. In a 1996 report on a Puerto Rico
status political bill, the "U.S. House Committee on Resources
stated that PR's current status does not meet the criteria for any
of the options for full self-government". It concluded that
PR is still an unincorporated territory of the U.S. under the territorial
clause, that the establishment of local self-government with the
consent of the people can be unilaterally revoked by the U.S. Congress,
and that U.S. Congress can also withdraw the U.S. citizenship of
PR residents of PR at any time, for a legitimate Federal purpose.
The application of the Constitution to Puerto Rico is limited by
the Insular Cases.
Although no embassies are located in Puerto Rico, it hosts Consulates
from 42 countries, mainly from the Western Hemisphere and Europe.
Most consulates are in San Juan, the capital. While the Papal Nuncio
in Washington, DC serves as the Vatican State's ambassador to the
U.S. and the ecclesiastical liaison to the American Roman Catholic
Church, the Holy See has designated the Papal Nuncio in the Dominican
Republic as the ecclesiastical liaison to the Roman Catholic Church
in Puerto Rico.
Political status within the United States
Under its constitution of 1952, the people of Puerto Rico describe
themselves as a Commonwealth and enjoy a significant degree of administrative
autonomy similar to that of a U.S. state. Puerto Ricans are statutory
U.S. citizens, but because Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory
and not a U.S. state, the U.S. Constitution does not enfranchise
U.S. citizens not residing in U.S. states. Puerto Rico does participate
in the internal political process of both the Democratic and Republican
parties in the U.S., accorded equal-proportional representation
in both parties, and delegates from the islands vote in each party's
Puerto Rico is classified by the U.S. government as an independent
taxation authority by mutual agreement with the U.S. Congress. Contrary
to common misconception, residents of Puerto Rico pay U.S. federal
taxes: import/export taxes, federal commodity taxes, social security
taxes, etc. Most residents do not pay federal income tax but pay
federal payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare), and Puerto
Rico income taxes. But federal employees, or those who do business
with the federal government, Puerto Rico-based corporations that
intend to send funds to the U.S. and others also pay federal income
taxes. Because the cutoff point for income taxation is lower than
that of the U.S. IRS code, and because the per-capita income in
Puerto Rico is much lower than the average per-capita income on
the mainland, more Puerto Rico residents pay income taxes to the
local taxation authority than if the IRS code were applied to the
island. Residents are eligible for Social Security benefits upon
retirement. But Puerto Rico is excluded from Supplemental Security
Income (SSI), receives less than 15% of the Medicaid funding it
would be allotted as a state, while Medicare providers receive less-than-full
state-like reimbursements for services rendered to beneficiaries
in Puerto Rico, even though the latter paid fully into the system.
Puerto Ricans may enlist in the U.S. military. Since becoming statutory
United States citizens in 1917, Puerto Ricans have been included
in the compulsory draft whenever it has been in effect. Puerto Ricans
have participated in all U.S. wars since 1898, most notably World
War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as the current Middle
Recent developments on status
According to a December 2005 report by the President's Task Force
on Puerto Rico's Status, it is not possible "to bind future
(U.S.) Congresses to any particular arrangement for Puerto Rico
as a Commonwealth". This determination was based on articles
in the U.S. Constitution regarding territories. Prominent leaders
in the pro-statehood and pro-independence political movements agree
with this assessment. The Legislative Branch, controlled by the
opposing New Progressive Party (PNP), supported the White House
Report's conclusions and has supported bills introduced by Reps.
Jose Serrano (D-NY) and Luis Fortuño (R-PR) and Sens. Ken
Salazar (D-CO) and Mel Martinez (R-FL) to provide for a democratic
referendum process among Puerto Rico voters.
The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) announced a commitment to challenge
the task force's report and validate the current status in all international
forums including the United Nations. It 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 sovereignty, an association based
on "respect and dignity between both nations", and common
citizenship. In an unprecedented letter sent by the Governor
of Puerto Rico to the U.S. Secretary of State and the Co-Chairs
of the White House's Presidential Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status,
Governor Acevedo Vilá stated:
"My Administration's position is very clear: if the Task Force
and the Bush Administration stand by their 2005 conclusions, then
for over 50 years the U.S Government has perpetuated a 'monumental
hoax' on the people of Puerto Rico, on the people of the United
States and on the international community. If the 2005 report articulates
the new official position of the United States, the time has come
now for the State Department to formally notify the United Nations
of this new position and assume the international legal consequences.
You cannot have a legal and constitutional interpretation for local,
political purposes and a different one for the international community.
If it is a serious, relevant document, the report must have international
consequences. Alternatively, the Task Force may review and amend
the 2005 conclusions to make them consistent with legal and historical
precedent, and therefore allow future status developments based
on a binding compact."
On December 21, 2007, the Bush Administration's Task Force on Puerto
Rico's Status reiterated and confirmed that Puerto Rico continues
to be a territory of the U.S. under the plenary powers of the U.S.
Congress, a position shared by the remaining two-major parties:
New Progressive Party and the Puerto Rican Independence Party.
Main article: List of political parties in Puerto Rico
As unincorporated territory dependent on the U.S. since 1898, with
commonwealth since 1952, the ideology of Puerto Ricans is represented
by its political parties, which stand for three distinct future
political scenarios that are non-conformist regarding Puerto Rico's
territorial or colonial status: (1) those who favor an autonomous,
sovereign bilateral relationship with the United States (so-called
"improved"/"enhanced" U.S. commonwealth outside
the U.S. Constitution's "Territorial Clause" or Free Associated
Republic status); (2) those that favor that Puerto Rico's national
independence should be recognized by the U.S., as a full-fledged
sovereign republic within the concert of the international community
at-large; and, (3) those who favor Puerto Rico's entry into the
U.S. as a full-fledged state of the federated union, by becoming
its 51st state. The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) seeks to maintain
the island's "association" status as a commonwealth, improved
commonwealth and/or seek a true free sovereign-association status
or Free Associated Republic, and has won a plurality vote in referendums
on the island's status held over six decades after the island was
invaded by the U.S. (The fairness of most referendums has been impugned
by one or two of the opposition parties.) The New Progressive Party
(PNP) seeks statehood. The Puerto Rican Independence Party and the
Nationalist Party seek independence, albeit through different means.
The Nationalist Party, for example, does not participate in elections
held every four years. Although they maintain close relations and
are considered allies within an otherwise rather divided Puerto
Rican Independence Movement, the Puerto Rican Independence Party,
on the other hand, does participate in nation-wide gubernatorial
elections held every four years since 1948.
Main article: Culture of Puerto Rico
Kapok tree (Ceiba) the national tree of Puerto Rico.Puerto Rican
culture is a mix of four cultures, African (from the slaves), Taíno
(Amerindians), Spanish, and more recently, North American. From
Africans, the Puerto Ricans have obtained the "bomba and plena",
a type of music and dance including percussions and maracas. From
the Amerindians (Taínos), they kept many names for their
municipalities, foods, musical instruments like the güiro and
maracas. Many words and other objects have originated from their
localized language. From the Spanish they received the Spanish language,
the Catholic religion and the vast majority of their cultural and
moral values and traditions. From the United States they received
the English language, the university system and a variety of hybrid
cultural forms that developed between the U.S. mainland and the
island of Puerto Rico. The University of Puerto Rico was founded
in 1903, five years after the island became part of the U.S.
Much of the Puerto Rican culture centers on the influence of music.
Like the country as a whole, Puerto Rican music has been developed
by mixing other cultures with its own unique flavor. Early in the
history of Puerto Rican music, the influences of African and Spanish
traditions were most noticeable. However, the cultural movements
across the Caribbean and North America have played a vital role
in the more recent musical influences that have arrived to Puerto
Rico. The musical genres of rap and reggae have generated a way
of life in Puerto Rico that expresses different cultural facets
of the United States, as well as the Rastafari lifestyle of Jamaica.
The rap and reggae cultures, spread by the influence of the mass
media and migration, have contributed to the distinctive Puerto
Rican identity and lifestyle.  
Puerto Rican hip hop attributing from influences from the Jamaican
community, as well as American communities, became a unique mixture
of "gansta" as well as reggae. This mixture became well
accepted as rap, or underground music and became most popular in
the 1990's. As this cultural presence took effect, the general populous
started to adopt these cultural and social aspects of the hip hop
scene, including dress, speech and general fashions. 
This combination of New York City hip hop and Jamaican reggae,
along with influences from salsa, bachata, merengue, techno, and
dancehall, became known as underground, and then reggaeton. At first
only speaking to the ears of the poor urban youth in Puerto Rico
in the early 90s, it quickly drew attention from the middle class,
who thought its violent and explicitly sexual lyrics were to blame
for Puerto Rico's "uncontrollable crime wave". </ref>
 </ref> Reggaeton rose up with a form of dancing known
as perreo, which was equally targeted as a negative addition to
Puerto Rican culture. It was described as degrading towards women,
and like the music, overtly sexual. Despite this contention, reggaeton
has become both mainstream and a proud representation of the Puerto
Much of the content of Puerto Rican rap and hip hop was dominated
by controversial dance, and the introduction of woman as sex icons.
Boricua underground rap was deemed obscene and the Puerto Rican
government took action against businesses that sold underground
music. Puerto Rican Police launched a raid against all underground
rap and all cassettes of this type of music were confiscated from
all record stores in Puerto Rico. Penal codes known as Laws 112
and 117 against obsenity were instated. In addition, radio, newspaper
and television media demonized Puerto Rican rappers by characterizing
them as immoral, instigators of violence, and irresponsible corrupters
of the public order. This all came to no avail. Despite dress codes,
and prohibition in the younger crowds and school areas, rap could
not be kept under control. As a result, rap has become a widespread
phenomenon that went from small closed groups, to influencing those
among the entire country. 
The official symbols of Puerto Rico are the bird, Reinita mora
(Spindalis portoricensis), the flower, Flor de Maga (Thespesia grandiflora),
and the tree, Ceiba or Kapok (Ceiba pentandra). The unofficial favorite
amphibian is the Coquí (Eleutherodactylus coqui). Another
popular symbol of Puerto Rico is the "jíbaro" ,
the "countryman" .
Main article: Sports in Puerto Rico
Juan Evangelista Venegas, first Puerto Rican to win an Olympic medal.Puerto
Rico possesses Olympic teams for both the Summer Olympics and the
Winter Olympics, as well as having international representation
in many other sporting events including the Pan-American Games,
the Caribbean World Series, and the Central American and Caribbean
Games, of which, Mayagüez will host the upcoming 2010 event.
Puerto Rican athletes have won 6 medals (1 silver, 5 bronze) in
Olympic competition, the first one in 1948 by boxer Juan Evangelista
Venegas. Puerto Rican professional tennis player Beatriz "Gigi"
Fernández won two gold medals in Olympic tennis doubles competitions
representing the United States Olympic Team. International Master,
Julio Kaplan played for the Puerto Rico National Chess Team in four
straight Chess Olympiads and, while representing Puerto Rico in
1967, he became World Junior Chess Champion putting him at the top
of the World for chess competition among those under-20.
Juan "Pachín" Vicens, first and only Puerto Rican
to be named "Best Basketball Player in the World"Although
boxing, basketball, and volleyball are popular, traditionally baseball
is the most popular sport. Puerto Rico has its own professional
baseball league which operates as a winter league. No major league
franchise or affiliate plays in Puerto Rico; however, San Juan hosted
the Montreal Expos for several series in 2003 and 2004 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. Famous Puerto Rican baseball
players include Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda, enshrined in
the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 and 1999, respectively, as well
as other pioneer record-breakers such as Luis Arroyo. Puerto
Rican world champions in professional boxing include Miguel Cotto,
Felix Trinidad, Daniel Santos, Kermit Cintron, Wilfredo Benitez,
and Wilfredo Gomez. Puerto Rico, despite being a small island, has
had more World boxing champions than any other country, besides
the United States. See: list of Boxing world champions.
Juan "Pachín" Vicens, was one of Puerto Rico's
most distinguished amateur basketball players, becoming the first
Puerto Rican to receive the distinction of becoming the world's
most distinguished player in a team sport, when he was named "Best
Basketball Player in the World" in the 1959 World Championship
in Chile. Basketball players that played in the National Basketball
Association include Ramon Rivas, Ramon Ramos Carlos Arroyo, Jose
Juan Barea and José Ortiz.
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 defending gold medalist
and basketball powerhouse in Olympic play. On September 29,
2005, Major League Baseball (MLB) 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 players, which were favored in the
opening round but were eliminated in the second round.
Professional wrestling has enjoyed much popularity in Puerto Rico
for a long time. Matches have been televised since the 1960s, and
multiple, non-televised matches are held each week across the island.
The World Wrestling Council is the main wrestling promoter in Puerto
Rico. Famous Puerto Rican wrestlers have included Barrabas, Carlos
Colon and his son, Carlito, Los Invaders, Savio Vega, Pedro Morales,
and Los Super Médicos. Many World Wrestling Entertainment
stars, such as Randy Savage and Ric Flair have fought in Puerto
Rico. Women's wrestling has been gaining popularity in Puerto Rico
since the 1990s.
The Puerto Rico Islanders soccer team, founded in 2003, plays in
the United Soccer Leagues First Division, which constitutes the
second tier of soccer in North America. Puerto Rico is also a member
of FIFA and Concacaf but the national team has so far failed to
qualify for the World Cup final tournament.
Road running is a very popular sport and recreative activity across
the island. Almost each weekend several road running events are
held across the island. The most successful Puerto Rican road runner
is Jorge "Peco" Gonzalez, who won several gold medals
at the Central American and Caribbean Games and Pan American Games.
Main article: Transportation in Puerto Rico
Tren Urbano at Bayamón Station.Puerto Rico is connected by
a system of freeways, expressways, and highways, all maintained
by the Highways and Transportation Authority and patrolled by the
Police of Puerto Rico. The island's metropolitan area is served
by a public bus transit system and a metro system called Tren Urbano
(in English: Urban Train). Other forms of public transportation
include sea-born ferries (that serve Puerto Rico's archipielago,
composed of various substantially-populated islands) as well as
"Carros Públicos" (Mini Bus), similar to jitney
service on the United States.
The island's main airport, Luis Muñoz Marín International
Airport, is located in Carolina, and serves the rest of the island
as well as the Virgin Islands. The most recently renovated airport
in the west of Puerto Rico is that of the former Ramey Military
airbase in Aguadilla, Rafael Hernandez Airport, which has made it
easier to explore the towns of the newly created tourism area known
as "Porta del Sol." The main port of the island San Juan
Part of the San Juan Port that divides Old San Juan from the modern
downtown, "New San Juan"Various U.S. laws that govern
the domestic and domestic-foreign-domestic transportation of merchandise
and passengers by water between two points in the U.S. have been
extended to Puerto Rico since the initial years of U.S.'s claim
over the sovereignty of the island. For example, Jones Act of 1920
mandates that vessels that are U.S.-built, U.S.-crewed, U.S.-citizen
owned and appropriately U.S.-documented by the Coast Guard must
be used to transport any merchandise or persons shipped entirely
or partly by water between U.S. points—directly or indirectly
via foreign points. Strictly construed, the Jones Act refers only
to Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (46 USC 883; 19
CFR 4.80 and 4.80(b)), which has come to bear the name of its original
sponsor, Sen. Wesley L. Jones.
Another law, enacted in 1886, requires essentially the same standards
for the transport of passengers between U.S. points, directly or
indirectly transported through foreign ports or foreign points (46
App. USC 289; 19 CFR 4.80(a)). But, since the mid-1980s, as part
of a joint effort between the cruise ship industry that serves Puerto
Rico and Puerto Rican politicians such as then Resident Commissioner,
U.S. non-voting Representative Baltasar Corrada del Río,
obtained a limited-exception since no U.S. cruise ships that were
Jones Act-eligible were participating in said market.
The application of these coastwise shipping laws and their imposition
on Puerto Rico consist in a serious restriction of free trade and
have been under scrutiny and controversy due to the apparent contradictory
rhetoric involving the U.S. government's sponsorship of free trade
policies around the world, while its own national shipping policy
(Cabotage Law) is essentially mercantilist and based on notions
foreign to free-trade principles.