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Flag of Puerto Rico
Map of Puerto Rico
Introduction Puerto Rico
Populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following Columbus' second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917 and popularly elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self-government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998 voters chose to retain commonwealth status.
Geography Puerto Rico
Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic
Geographic coordinates:
18 15 N, 66 30 W
Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean
total: 9,104 sq km
water: 145 sq km
land: 8,959 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island
Land boundaries:
0 km
501 km
Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
tropical marine, mild; little seasonal temperature variation
mostly mountains, with coastal plain belt in north; mountains precipitous to sea on west coast; sandy beaches along most coastal areas
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Cerro de Punta 1,338 m
Natural resources:
some copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore oil
Land use:
arable land: 3.72%
permanent crops: 5.07%
other: 91.21% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
400 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
periodic droughts; hurricanes
Environment - current issues:
erosion; occasional drought causing water shortages
Geography - note:
important location along the Mona Passage - a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal; San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean; many small rivers and high central mountains ensure land is well watered; south coast relatively dry; fertile coastal plain belt in north
People Puerto Rico
3,957,988 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 23.5% (male 476,726; female 453,782)
15-64 years: 65.8% (male 1,249,850; female 1,353,438)
65 years and over: 10.7% (male 180,053; female 244,139) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.51% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
15.04 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
7.82 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-2.12 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.74 male(s)/female
total population: 0.93 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
9.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.96 years
female: 80.66 years (2002 est.)
male: 71.5 years
Total fertility rate:
1.9 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
7,397 (1997)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Puerto Rican
Ethnic groups:
white (mostly Spanish origin) 80.5%, black 8%, Amerindian 0.4%, Asian 0.2%, mixed and other 10.9%
Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%
Spanish, English
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 89%
male: 90%
female: 88% (1980 est.)
Government Puerto Rico
Country name:
conventional long form: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
conventional short form: Puerto Rico
Dependency status:
commonwealth associated with the US
Government type:
San Juan
Administrative divisions:
none (commonwealth associated with the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 78 municipalities (municipios, singular - municipio) at the second order; Adjuntas, Aguada, Aguadilla, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Anasco, Arecibo, Arroyo, Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Bayamon, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Camuy, Canovanas, Carolina, Catano, Cayey, Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Coamo, Comerio, Corozal, Culebra, Dorado, Fajardo, Florida, Guanica, Guayama, Guayanilla, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Hatillo, Hormigueros, Humacao, Isabela, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Juncos, Lajas, Lares, Las Marias, Las Piedras, Loiza, Luquillo, Manati, Maricao, Maunabo, Mayaguez, Moca, Morovis, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Penuelas, Ponce, Quebradillas, Rincon, Rio Grande, Sabana Grande, Salinas, San German, San Juan, San Lorenzo, San Sebastian, Santa Isabel, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Vieques, Villalba, Yabucoa, Yauco
none (commonwealth associated with the US)
National holiday:
US Independence Day, 4 July (1776)
ratified 3 March 1952; approved by US Congress 3 July 1952; effective 25 July 1952
Legal system:
based on Spanish civil code and adapted US state laws
18 years of age; universal; indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections
Executive branch:
chief of state: President George W. BUSH of the US (since 20 January 2001); Vice President Richard B. CHENEY (since 20 January 2001)
election results: Sila M. CALDERON (PPD) elected governor; percent of vote - 48.6%
note: residents of Puerto Rico do not vote for US president and vice president
elections: US president and vice president elected on the same ticket for four-year terms; governor elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held 2 November 2004)
head of government: Governor Sila M. CALDERON (since 2 January 2001)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor with the consent of the legislature
Legislative branch:
bicameral Legislative Assembly consists of the Senate (28 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives (51 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PPD 19, PNP 8, PIP 1, other 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - PPD 30, PNP 20, PIP 1
note: Puerto Rico elects, by popular vote, a resident commissioner to serve a four-year term as a nonvoting representative in the US House of Representatives; aside from not voting on the House floor, he enjoys all the rights of a member of Congress; elections last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held 2 November 2004); results - percent of vote by party - PPD 49.3%; seats by party - PPD 1; Anibal ACEVEDO-VILA elected resident commissioner
elections: Senate - last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held 2 November 2004); House of Representatives - last held 7 November 2000 (next to be held 2 November 2004)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; Appellate Court; Court of First Instance composed of two sections: a Superior Court and a Municipal Court (justices for all these courts appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate)
Political parties and leaders:
National Democratic Party [Celeste BENITEZ]; National Republican Party of Puerto Rico [Luis FERRE]; New Progressive Party or PNP (pro-US statehood) [Carlos PESQUERA]; Popular Democratic Party or PPD (pro-commonwealth) [Sila M. CALDERON]; Puerto Rican Independence Party or PIP (pro-independence) [Ruben BERRIOS Martinez]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Armed Forces for National Liberation or FALN; Armed Forces of Popular Resistance; Boricua Popular Army (also known as the Macheteros); Volunteers of the Puerto Rican Revolution
International organization participation:
Caricom (observer), ECLAC (associate), FAO (associate), ICFTU, Interpol (subbureau), IOC, WCL, WFTU, WHO (associate)
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (commonwealth associated with the US)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (commonwealth associated with the US)
Flag description:
five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center; design initially influenced by the US flag, but similar to the Cuban flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed
Economy Puerto Rico
Economy - overview:
Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. A diverse industrial sector has surpassed agriculture as the primary locus of economic activity and income. Encouraged by duty-free access to the US and by tax incentives, US firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. US minimum wage laws apply. Sugar production has lost out to dairy production and other livestock products as the main source of income in the agricultural sector. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income, with estimated arrivals of nearly 5 million tourists in 1999. Growth fell off in 2001, largely due to the slowdown in the US economy.
purchasing power parity - $43.9 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.2% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $11,200 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 45%
services: 54% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
5.7% (2000 est.)
Labor force:
1.3 million (2000) (2000)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 3%, industry 20%, services 77% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
9.5% (2000) (2000)
revenues: $6.7 billion
expenditures: $9.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY99/00)
pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products; tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
20.497 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 99%
hydro: 1%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
19.062 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, coffee, pineapples, plantains, bananas; livestock products, chickens
$38.5 billion f.o.b. (2000)
Exports - commodities:
pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates, medical equipment
Exports - partners:
US 88% (2000)
$27 billion c.i.f. (2000)
Imports - commodities:
chemicals, machinery and equipment, clothing, food, fish, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
US 60% (2000)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - recipient:
US dollar (USD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
the US dollar is used
Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June
Communications Puerto Rico
Telephones - main lines in use:
1.322 million (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
169,265 (1996)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modern system, integrated with that of the US by high-capacity submarine cable and Intelsat with high-speed data capability
domestic: digital telephone system; cellular telephone service
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat; submarine cable to US
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 72, FM 17, shortwave 0 (1998)
2.7 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
18 (plus three stations of the US Armed Forces Radio and Television Service) (1997)
1.021 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
76 (2000)
Internet users:
600,000 (2002)
Transportation Puerto Rico
total: 96 km
narrow gauge: 96 km 1.000-m gauge,
note: rural, narrow-gauge system for hauling sugarcane; no passenger service (2001)
total: 14,400 km
paved: 14,400 km
unpaved: 0 km (1996)
Ports and harbors:
Guanica, Guayanilla, Guayama, Playa de Ponce, San Juan
Merchant marine:
total: 1 ship (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 19,046 GRT/22,582 DWT
ships by type: container 1 (2002 est.)
30 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 19
over 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 8
under 914 m: 5 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 10 (2002)
Military Puerto Rico
Military branches:
no regular indigenous military forces; paramilitary National Guard, Police Force
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the US
Transnational Issues Puerto Rico
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003