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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[4] or unincorporated organized territory of the United States, and its political status[5][6] 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"[7] 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",[8] "postal system, social security, and mining activities and minerals, among other areas"[5] 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,[4] subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sovereignty.[3] 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.[9][10] Recently two reports have been issued by the U.S. President-appointed Task Force,[11] the latest of which was issued on December 21, 2007.[12] 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 community."[13]

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[14] 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.[12] The remaining two-major parties New Progressive Party and the Puerto Rican Independence Party welcomed the recommendations of both reports.[15]

Contents [hide]
1 Geography
1.1 Geology
1.2 Climate
1.3 Fauna
2 History
2.1 Pre-Columbian era
2.2 Spanish colony
2.3 Under United States sovereignty
3 Demographics
3.1 Languages
3.2 Religion
4 Economy
5 Politics
5.1 Government
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
6 Culture
7 Sports
8 Transportation
8.1 Land transportation
8.2 Air transportation
8.3 Ocean transportation
9 See also
10 References
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.[16] 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.[17]. 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),[18] 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 realm.

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.[19] It originated off the coast of Aguadilla and was accompanied by a tsunami.

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.[20] 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).[20]

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,[21] 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.[22] 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

Pre-Columbian era

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.[23]

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.[24] The Arcaico Indians, hunters and fishermen, were the first inhabitants Puerto Rico.[25] Between AD 120 and 400, the Igneri, a tribe from the Orinoco region, arrived.[25] Between the 4th and 10th centuries, the Arcaicos and Igneri co-existed (and perhaps clashed) on the island.[25] Between the 7th and 11th century the Taíno culture developed on the island and by approximately 1000 AD had become dominant.[25] This lasted until Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492.[25] In 1494, The Spanish were attacked, but survived and won the battle.[citation needed]

Spanish colony
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".[26] 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.[27]

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 Rico.

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 for long.[28][29][30]

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.[31] 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.[32] 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.[33] 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.[34]

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.[35] 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.[36][37] 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 Popular Army").

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.[38]

Demographic distribution
Racial distribution[show]
Race - Puerto Rico - 2000 Census[39]
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".[40][41] (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.[42] 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.[43] The Spanish of Puerto Rico is well known for some interesting linguistic features.[citation needed]

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.[44] 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.[45] 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.[46][47]

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,[48] 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.[49] [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.[50] 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.[51]

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.[52] 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%.[53]

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.[54] Puerto Rico although have elections governed by the Federal Election Commission;[55][56] Like the Resident Commissioner election and the US Presidential Primary or Caucus of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. [57][58][59][60] 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.

Administrative divisions
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.[48] 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.[61]

Political history
Main article: Politics of Puerto Rico
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Please discuss this issue on the talk page and help summarize or split the content into subarticles of an article series.

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 the vote.

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.[62] 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 by default.[63]

International status
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.[12] It stated that the U.S. Justice Department in 1959 reiterated that Congress held power over Puerto Rico pursuant to the Territorial Clause[64] of the U.S. Constitution.[12] 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.[65] 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 national convention.

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 Eastern conflicts.

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".[11] 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.[66] 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:[67][68]

"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."[69]
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,[15] a position shared by the remaining two-major parties: New Progressive Party and the Puerto Rican Independence Party.[15]

Political parties
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. [70] [71]

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. [72]

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> [3] </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 Rican culture.

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. [73]

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.[74]

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.[75][76] 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.[77] 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.[78] 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

Land transportation

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.

Air transportation
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 Port.

Ocean transportation

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.