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Puerto Rico History Timeline

1000s - 1800s
  • (1000 AD) Arawak Indians settled in Puerto Rico; island called Boriquen
  • (1493) Columbus claimed island for Spain, named it San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist)
  • (1508) Juan Ponce de Leon established first Spanish settlement
  • (1509) Juan Ponce de Leon named governor of San Juan Bautista
  • (1520s) Island officially named Puerto Rico
  • (1873) Spain abolished slavery after almost 400 years; Puerto Rico given representation in Spain's parliament
  • (1898) US forces invaded Puerto Rico during Spanish American War; Treaty of Paris ended war, gave US possession of island
  • (1900) President William McKinley signed Foraker Act, allowed island residents to organize own government
  • (1902) US declared Puerto Rico a territory
  • (1917) Jones Act granted US citizenship to Puerto Ricans
  • (1942) Hiram Bithorn became the first Puerto Rican baseball player in major leagues – played for Chicago Cubs,
  • (1946) US appointed Jesus T Pinero as Puerto Rico's first governor
  • (1948) Puerto Rico sent first team to the Olympics; Munoz Marin elected governor
  • (1950) Puerto Rico's Commonwealth Bill signed by US President Truman
  • (1951) Puerto Ricans voted in favor of US commonwealth status in referendum
  • (1952) Puerto Rico became self-governing commonwealth of US
  • (1954) Nationalists opened fire in US House of Representatives, injured five congressmen
  • (1967) 60% of voters backed continued commonwealth
  • (1972) Puerto Rico baseball hero, Roberto Clemente, killed in plane crash
  • (1985) Landslide in Ponce killed 129 people
  • (1989) Hurricane Hugo caused heavy damage to islands of Vieques and Culebra
  • (1993) Spanish, English declared official languages
  • (1998) Hurricane George swept across island, caused serious damage; residents voted to decide island's political status, Puerto Rico remained commonwealth
  • (2000) Sila Calderon, PPD, elected, first female governor
  • (2003) US Navy closed bombing range on Vieques
  • (2004) Anibal Acevedo Vila confirmed as territory's next governor
  • (2005) Filiberto Ojeda Rios, fugitive pro-independence rebel leader, killed in shootout with US federal agents
  • (2006) Puerto Rico closed government offices due to financing issues; Puerto Rico adopted first sales tax
  • (2008) Acevedo Vila called on UN to back Puerto Rico's right to self-determination; Luis Fortuno won gubernatorial election
  • (2009) Neighborhood near San Juan evacuated after explosion at oil refinery triggered major fire
  • (2010) Largest police graft probe in FBI history held dozens of Puerto Rican police on drugs charges

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)
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This page was last updated on April 7, 2017.