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Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, January 09, 2011 at 10:39:56 :: Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: "Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico", literally Associated Free State of Puerto Rico), is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands.

Entrance of San Juan port and view of El Morro from across San Juan Bay, islet of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico (Spanish for "rich port") 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 Mona. The main island of Puerto Rico is the smallest by land area of the Greater Antilles. It, however, ranks third in population among that group of four islands, which also include Cuba, Hispaniola, and Jamaica.

Puerto Rico is an "unincorporated territory" of the United States which according to the U.S. Supreme Court's Insular Cases is "a territory appurtenant and belonging to the United States, but not a part of the United States." Puerto Rico is subject to the Congress' plenary powers under the territorial clause of Article IV, sec. 3, of the U.S. Constitution. U.S. federal law applies to Puerto Rico, even though Puerto Rico is not a state of the American Union and has no voting representative in the U.S. Congress.

As of 2010, there is a population of 3,725,789 in Puerto Rico. The capital and largest city is San Juan.

Garita at Fort San Felipe del Morro or El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, named in honor of King Philip II of Spain, San Juan, Puerto Rico

Interesting facts about Puerto Rico:

- Puerto Rico was discovered by Christopher Columbus, who claimed it for Spain in 1493, during his second voyage to the new world. In 1898, with the end of the American-Spanish War, Puerto Rico became a part of the United States.

- Puerto Rico is a free associated territory of the United States. Moreover, since 1917, all Puerto Ricans are born as American citizens.

- Since Puerto Rico is a US territory, the US dollar is their official currency, though it is commonly referred to as 'peso' by the locals.

- Puerto Ricans are a blend of Spanish, Taino Indian and African cultures. Puerto Ricans consider themselves Americans, however, they don't usually call themselves Americans. They call themselves Puertorriqueños or Boricuas, and when they say 'my country', they are actually referring to Puerto Rico and not the United States.

- Both Spanish and English are the official languages of the island, however, the Spanish language is undoubtedly more prominent.

- The climate on the island is fairly stable throughout the year and averages 82°F all year round. The average temperature is 80-85°F during the day and 70-75°F during the night.

- Although Puerto Rico is a US territory and has the USD as its currency, it possesses its own Olympic team and competes as an independent nation in the Miss Universe pageant.

- Puerto Rico has won the Miss Universe title five times: Marisol Malaret (1970), Deborah Carthy-Deu (1985), Dayanara Torres (1993), Denisse Quiñones (2001), and Zuleyka Rivera (2006). It even hosted the Miss Universe pageant in 1972, and became the first Latin American country to host this contest.

- The island comprises 270 miles of beachfront, known for its quality and vastness. The variety of beaches is simply overwhelming. Black, magnetic sand beaches, beaches with rusty military tank color and many more majestic beaches are housed by the island. These glorious beaches make Puerto Rico a favorite tourist destination.

- Puerto Rico is a hurricane prone island and should be avoided during the hurricane season, from June to November. Winter is the peak tourist season. However, to avoid the crowds, it is best to visit this island in spring or late fall.

- Puerto Rican cuisine is unique, even though it is a blend of Mexican and Spanish culinary traditions. This is due to the addition of indigenous ingredients such as papaya, apio, plantains, coriander, cocoa and nispero, that give the cuisine its authentic island flavor.

- Puerto Ricans generally greet their family and close friends with a kiss on the cheek. They also consider it respectful to stand very close to someone during a conversation. Hand gestures are an important component of communication to them.

- The unofficial mascot of the island is a tiny tree frog called 'Coqui', that is found only in Puerto Rico. This frog is a cute and popularly loved symbol of the island. Its powerful melodic voice and high pitched, chirpy song can be heard for miles. The sound it makes creates romantic evenings across the island.

- Cockfighting is the most popular pastime on the island. In fact, every town has its own coliseum built for rooster fights. In Puerto Rico, cockfighting is considered to be a 'gentleman's sport' and is legal, unlike other parts of the United States. In 2007, a new law was signed, which confirmed the sport's legality across the island.

- Puerto Rico houses the world's largest single-dish radio telescope in the world, measuring thousand feet in diameter and spanning almost 20 acres. It is also the most sensitive radio telescope in the world. It has the capability of probing objects 10 billion light years away and is the only radio telescope in the world that can accurately predict when and where an asteroid would hit the Earth!

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UNESCO World Heritage

Puerto Rico, La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, October 15, 2009 at 12:03:23

Location San Juan, Puerto Rico, United States of America
Coordinates N18 28 0 W66 7 30
Type Cultural
Date of Inscription 1983

Brief Description ( )

Between the 15th and 19th centuries, a series of defensive structures was built at this strategic point in the Caribbean Sea to protect the city and the Bay of San Juan. They represent a fine display of European military architecture adapted to harbour sites on the American continent.

Photos from Landolia

La Fortaleza Fort San Felipe del Morro

More photos of La Fortaleza and San Juan National Historic Site in Puerto Rico

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