The beautiful tropical island of Puerto Rico is home to people that thrive on their fishing and agricultural skills. Puerto Rico is located between the Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south. Its fertile soil supports one of the densest populations in the world. Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover the island on Nov. 19, 1493. Early Spanish settlers named the island as San Juan Bautista, in honor of St. John the Baptist and named the capital as Puerto Rico, meaning “rich port”. In course of time, the names were interchanged; the capital came to be known as San Juan and the island as Puerto Rico.
The Spanish settlers used the city of San Juan as a shipment port for gold that was mined in Puerto Rico. Silver from South America was also stored in the city for trans-shipment to Spain. Droughts, hurricanes and a constant threat of attack from the British, Dutch and French plagued the island in the 18th century.
In 1809, political unrest occurred amongst the islanders, with a small group of landowners rising up in arms against Spanish rule. In 1897, Puerto Rico was granted a Letter of Autonomy from Spain and trade was opened up with the United States and European colonies. In 1898, the Spanish-American War brought an end to Spanish rule and Puerto Rico became a commonwealth of the United States.
The economy of Puerto Rico thrived during the 20th century and in 1917, the U.S. Congress granted US citizenships to Puerto Ricans. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt launched the Puerto Rican Reconstruction Administration, which resulted in the development of agriculture, public works and electrification of the island. Puerto Rico was declared a semi-autonomous commonwealth territory of the United States in 1952.
Manufacturing plants from the U. S. mainland were attracted to the island, which ushered in a 20-year period of unprecedented economic growth. Other developing economies looked to the island as a model of industrialization and referred to it as the “Puerto Rico Miracle”. The 1970 census showed Puerto Rico in favorable light, with a large urban population for the first time in its history.
Undeterred by its politics, Puerto Rico’s economic growth continues and life largely resembles most U.S. cities in business, education, commerce and tourism. The music, arts, and folklore, however, are more influenced by all the elements of the island than mainland U.S. culture.
Puerto Rico Photos:
Images Courtesy of: Puerto Rico Tourism Company