Maria S. Jimenez and Gloria M. Aznar
Puerto Rico is
Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican t
1,000 miles south east of Miami, Florida.
• Puerto Rico is almost rectangular in shape approximately 1,000 miles long by 35 miles wide and is the smallest and the
most eastern island of the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico).
• It consists of the main island of Puerto Rico and several smaller Islands and keys, including Vieques, Culebras,
Culebrita, Palomino ( known as the Spanish Virgin islands).
Puerto Rico is located in the Caribbean between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the
Dominican Republic, about 1,000 miles southeast of Miami, Florida.
It is almost rectangular in shape, approximately 100 miles long by 35 miles wide and is the smallest and the most
eastern island of the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico).
The climate is Tropical Marine with average temperatures year round, near 80 °F (26.7 ºC) in lower elevations
and 70 °F (21.1 °C) in the mountains.
Time Zone: Atlantic Standard (AST).
Do you know ?
That Puerto Rico is close to the deepest submarine depression in the North Atlantic Ocean
located parallel to the northern coast of the island. The Puerto Rico trench is in the deepest
point of the Atlantic Ocean it is 1,090 miles long and 60 miles wide. The origin can be
traced back to the beginning of the Tertiary period. The trench seems to have been open
for about 70 million years.
Puerto Rican History and Introduction
Puerto Rican Heritage
The culture of Puerto Rico has been greatly influenced by its history. A blend of Taino Indians,
Spaniards and African cultures, as well as the impact of the United States with political and social
exchange which creates a melting pot of people and traditions. The people of Puerto Rico
represent a racial mix of cultures within a culture, which today remains somewhat complex for
Puerto Rico was originally called Boriken or Boriquen which means “the great land of the valiant
and noble lord” or “land of the great lords”. On November 19th 1493, Christopher Columbus
discovered the island in his second voyage to the new world. The island was populated by as many as
50,000 Taino Indians. The new comers called the island San Juan Bautista for St. John the Baptist
and the town Puerto Rico (rich port). Later on Juan Ponce De Leon switch the names around.
Puerto Rico quickly became Spain’s most important military outpost in the Caribbean. The
arriving Spaniard settlers, many of them gold seekers, brought no women on their ships. Instead,
they took the Taino women to populate the country.
Today, Taino words are still used in the Puerto Rican vocabulary. Puerto Ricans are proud to be called
Boricua, which means “valiant people”.
Other words used today: Cabuya – fishing line, Cacique – chief, Coki – coqui – small tree frog,
Colibri – hummingbird, Cucubano – lightening bug, Fotulo – sea shell trumpet, Guaraguao – red
tail hawk, Jicotea – land turtle, Mime – fruit fly. Cont…
Sugar cane has been grown in Puerto Rico from the very beginning of the Spanish ruling.
The Spaniards came to depend on sugar cane as a valuable resource. Planting and harvesting
sugar cane was hard work. In the beginning the Spaniards depended on the Tainos, but with
time there were not enough Tainos left to work for the Spaniards. Many Tainos had rebelled,
others had fled, and others became ill and died. The demand on the sugar cane plantations
was high and the Spaniards were in need of more help. In January of 1513, African slaves
are introduced into the island and by 1530 there were more Africans in Puerto Rico than all
other people together.
Beside the slaves imported from Africa, French families flocked from both Louisiana and
Haiti, and farmers from Scotland and Ireland journeyed to Puerto Rico in search of a
better life. They were joined by the Spanish people from the Canary islands,
Dominican Republic, and Venezuela to initially help build roads. Chinese workers were
imported followed by workers from Italy, France, Germany, and even Lebanon, thus
increasing the racial mix.
The most significant new immigrant population arrived in the 1960s when thousands
of Cuban fled from Fidel Castro’s communist state. Presently, the latest arrivals to
Puerto Rico have come from the Dominican Republic.
Puerto Rican Cuisine
Puerto Rican cuisine is a unique tasty blend of African, American, Spanish, and
Taino influences using such ingredients as coriander, papaya, cacao, and
plantains. Locals call their cuisine “cocina criolla” (creole cooking), which can
be traced back to the Arawaks and Tainos. They thrived on a diet of corn,
tropical fruits, and seafood. When the Spaniards arrived, they added beef,
pork, rice, wheat, and olive oil to the island cuisine. The Africans brought with
them okra and taro (known in Puerto Rico as Yautia). This mingling of flavors
and ingredients has been passed on to all generations resulting in the Puerto
Rican cuisine of today. A normal meal will include rice, beans, meat, and salad
or some type of vegetables. For the holidays or celebrations, the main meal will
include rice with pigeon peas and roast pork for those that still eat pork, and
chicken or beef for those that do not.
Do you know?
The world’s largest single-dish radio telescope is located in
Arecibo Puerto Rico. The dish measures a 1000 feet in diameter
and spans about 20 acres, and is the most sensitive radio
telescope in the world. James Bond 007 movie the Goldeneye
showdown with the bad guy took
place right here.
School is compulsory and free for all students between the
ages of 5 to 18. Puerto Ricans have higher levels of
education than the Hispanic population overall but lower
levels than the U.S. population. Some 16% of Puerto
Ricans ages 25 and older, compared with 13% of all
Hispanics in the US, have obtained at least a
Puerto Ricans are predominantly
Catholics. Yet, their beliefs, rituals, and
practices often stray outside the orthodox
boundaries of Catholicism. Some Puerto
Ricans practice a hybrid form of religion
called Espiritismo which combines
elements of the Catholic religion and
Indian beliefs. They believe in nature-
dwelling spirits that can be called on to
affect changes in one’s life.
Similarly, some Puerto Ricans of
African descent practice Santeria. A
religion introduced by the slaves of West
Africa which is known today as Nigeria. It
observes multiple gods and combines
elements of Catholicism in addition to the
rich homage paid to saints. Parts of the
Island still host believes in the evil eye,
saint’s miracles, faith healing, and
witchcrafts. The evil eye is believed to
result from envious looks by others.
Puerto Ricans are always
ready to celebrate anything
and everything with great
enthusiasm. They include
dancing, singing, playing
music, drinking, and feasting.
Concept of time
Puerto Ricans live in the present but at a slower pace.
Puerto Ricans are cultures within a culture
In the Island, Spanish is
spoken by all. However,
depending on your heritage,
language barriers are
In the U.S. we learn to
speak English. However,
we also speak Spanish
especially if we have an
elder living with us who is
unable to learn English.
There are lots of recreational activities in
Puerto Rico. Although baseball is the
national sport, boxing is also very popular.
Basketball, golf, kite surfing, sports fishing,
diving and snorkeling, horseback riding,
horse racing, trail walking, and rock
climbing are among the most popular.
El Yungue is home of the only rain forest in
the U.S. National Forest System. The
Tropical Rain Forest in Rio Grande is one
of the rainiest zones in our planet.
Approximately 200 inches of rain fall in
this area each year.
The Camuy River Cave Park
is the world’s third-largest
subterranean river. 17 entrances,
over 220 caves, two other
smaller cave systems, and more
than 10 miles have been mapped
so far. Experts say the cave
system could still be larger.
Puerto Rico is home of three bioluminescent bays: Mosquito bay in Vieques, Laguna Grande in
Fajardo, and La Bahia Fosforescente in La Parguera. The species of phosphorescent
dynoflagellate makes the water glow.