It is an unincorporated
territory of the United States,
located in the northeastern
Caribbean, east of the Dominican
Republic and west of the Virgin
It comprises an archipelago
that includes the main island of
Puerto Rico and a number of
smaller islands, the largest of
which are Vieques, Culebra, and
Land area: 9,104 km2
Languages: Spanish and English
Monetary unit: United States dollar ($)
Government: Unincorporated territory of the United States
Head of state: Barack Obama
On November 19, 1493 Christopher Columbus discovered the island in his
second voyage to the New World. He named the island San Juan Bautista.
Juan Ponce de León colonized Borinquen in 1508
and became its first governor. Many families from
Spain and European nations moved to the island,
slowly marrying Taíno Indians, forming a new
ethnic group called Criollos.
Juan Ponce de León
During the Spanish-American War of 1898 American troops invaded the
island and Spain surrendered to the U.S. Since then, Puerto Rico has
remained a U.S. territory.
San Juan is the capital and most
populated city in Puerto Rico.
Old San Juan is the name known
to the historic district of San
Juan. It is located in the islet of
San Juan, which is connected to
the main island of Puerto Rico by
bridges. The city is known for its
colourful buildings that date
back to the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, when the
island was a Spanish colony.
Puerto Rican culture can be seen and
felt all year round, but especially at
Christmas, when people celebrate the
traditional parrandas – Puerto Rico’s
version of carol singing – when family
and friends gather together at home.
This tradition tends to take place in
the early hours of the morning in
order to surprise the unsuspecting
family members who are normally fast
Interestingly, Puerto Ricans celebrate what is probably the world’s longest Christmas.
The festivities get underway on 23 November and last until the end of January when
the Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastián take place.
Epiphany is another of Puerto Rico’s deeply-rooted celebrations, with children visiting
their relatives to collect the gifts left by the Three Wise Men.
In addition to their love for Christmas traditions, Puerto Ricans
also celebrate the Night of Saint John (the Baptist), where
crowds of people flock to the beaches around the island to jump
backwards into the sea seven times. They believe that this ritual
rids them of their bad luck. Essentially it’s a kind of baptism,
accompanied by music, dancing, eating and drinking.
Puerto Rico: Traditional food
Rice with Pigeon Peas
Fried Green Banana
Sweet Plantain &