1. World Map /
  2. North America/
  3. Caribbean/
  4. Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's Information

Flag of Puerto Rico
Land Area 8,870 km2
Water Area 4,921 km2
Total Area 13,791km2
Population 3,578,056 (#132)
Population Density 403.39/km2
Government Type Presidential Democracy; A Self-governing Commonwealth In Political Association With The US
GDP (PPP) $131.00 Billion
GDP Per Capita $37,700
Currency Dollar (USD)
Largest Cities

In 1898, the United States declared war on Spain, primarily motivated by the decades of unrest in Cuba and the unexplained sinking of an American battleship in Havana Harbor.

spanish american war On July 25, 1898, during the ten-week Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States. As an outcome of the war, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, along with the Philippines and Guam to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris.

Consequently, the island of Puerto Rico began the 20th century under the military rule of the United States; the new governor was appointed by the President of the United States.

Some local governmental powers were granted the island, including an elected House of Representatives and court system, however, the U.S. maintained the ultimate veto control.

In 1917, Puerto Ricans were collectively made U.S. citizens. Because of that action a few thousand Puerto Ricans were drafted into the United States army during World War I.

Many Puerto Ricans remained unhappy with the U.S. takeover of their island, and the Great Depression made things worse. in 1937, a protest march was organized in Ponce; a march that ended with 19 deaths and hundreds wounded.

The U.S. response to that peaceful protest march was called a massacre by some, and on April 2, 1943, U.S. Senator Millard Tydings introduced a bill in the U.S. Congress calling for independence for Puerto Rico. That bill was defeated and Puerto Ricans were not pleased.

In 1947, the U.S. granted Puerto Ricans the right to elect their own governor, and so they did. On October 30, 1950, nationalists organized a 3-day revolt against the U.S. in various cities and towns. To squelch the unrest, the U.S. used military force.

In the 1950s, the Puerto Rican financial situation took a strong turn, as its new manufacturing-based economy began to replace the island's long-dependency on agricultural products. That positive growth continued on into the 1960s.

financial building Today the island of Puerto Rico is one of the major tourist destinations in the Caribbean, and a significant factor in the regional petrochemical, pharmaceutical and technology industries.

Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens but they can't vote in U.S. presidential elections. And because the United States Congress still legislates many aspects of Puerto Rican life, the details of the Puerto Rico/U.S. relationship are simply baffling, and widely debated to this day.

Like all people, Puerto Ricans also want freedom, and after a long (mostly positive association) with the U.S. many feel that if a referendum on (total) independence from the United States was put to a direct vote (today) it would easily pass. Well, that happened in 1998, and more than 50% of the population said "They weren't sure!"

Regardless, we've traveled to this casual, yet exciting island many times, and from Old San Juan to Ponce, we loved it. So will you!

This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.

Puerto Rico Trivia

What Language is Spoken in Puerto Rico?

English and Spanish are the two most widely spoken languages in Puerto Rico. Over 95% of the population speaks Spanish.

What Languages Are Spoken In Puerto Rico?

Is Puerto Rico a Country?

Puerto Rico is not a country but instead an unincorporated territory of the United States.

8 Facts Not Many People Know About Puerto Rico

What is the Capital of Puerto Rico?

San Juan is the capital city of Puerto Rico.

8 Facts Not Many People Know About Puerto Rico

Which Continent is Puerto Rico In?

Puerto Rico is found in the Caribbean Region of North America.

8 Facts Not Many People Know About Puerto Rico

About the Author

John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

Trending on WorldAtlas

Countries & Territories Of The Caribbean