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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. 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 not to alter the existing political 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: 13,790 sq km
land: 8,870 sq km
water: 4,921 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island
Land boundaries:
0 km
501 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 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 1,339 m
Natural resources:
some copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore oil
Land use:
arable land: 3.69%
permanent crops: 5.59%
other: 90.72% (2005)
Irrigated land:
400 sq km (2003)
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
3,927,188 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 21.3% (male 428,610/female 409,484)
15-64 years: 65.8% (male 1,239,255/female 1,345,519)
65 years and over: 12.8% (male 218,045/female 286,275) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 34.7 years
male: 33 years
female: 36.4 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.4% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
12.77 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
7.65 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
-1.14 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 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: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 9.14 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 10.32 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.4 years
male: 74.46 years
female: 82.54 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.75 children born/woman (2006 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: 94.1%
male: 93.9%
female: 94.4% (2002 est.)
Government Puerto Rico
Country name:
conventional long form: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
conventional short form: Puerto Rico
Dependency status:
unincorporated, organized territory of the US with commonwealth status; policy relations between Puerto Rico and the US conducted under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President
Government type:
name: San Juan
geographic coordinates: 18 28 N, 66 07 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
none (territory of the US with commonwealth status); 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 (territory of the US with commonwealth status)
National holiday:
US Independence Day, 4 July (1776); Puerto Rico Constitution Day, 25 July (1952)
ratified 3 March 1952, approved by US Congress 3 July 1952, effective 25 July 1952
Legal system:
based on Spanish civil code and within the US Federal system of justice
18 years of age; universal; island residents 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)
head of government: Governor Anibal ACEVEDO-VILA (since 2 January 2005)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor with the consent of the legislature
elections: under the US Consitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as Puerto Rico, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; governor elected by popular vote for a four-year term (no term limits); election last held 2 November 2004 (next to be held November 2008)
election results: Anibal ACEVEDO-VILA (PPD) elected governor; percent of vote - 48.4%
Legislative branch:
bicameral Legislative Assembly consists of the Senate (at least 27 seats - currently 29; 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)
elections: Senate - last held 2 November 2004 (next to be held November 2008); House of Representatives - last held 2 November 2004 (next to be held November 2008)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - PNP 43.4%, PPD 40.3%, PIP 9.4%; seats by party - PNP 17, PPD 9, PIP 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - PNP 46.3%, PPD 43.1%, PIP 9.7%; seats by party - PNP 32, PPD 18, 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 2 November 2004 (next to be held November 2008); Luis FORTUNO elected resident commissioner; results - percent of vote by party - PNP 48.6%; seats by party - PNP 1
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 [Roberto PRATS]; National Republican Party of Puerto Rico [Dr. Tiody FERRE]; New Progressive Party or PNP (pro-US statehood) [Pedro ROSSELLO]; Popular Democratic Party or PPD (pro-commonwealth) [Anibal ACEVEDO-VILA]; Puerto Rican Independence Party or PIP (pro-independence) [Ruben BERRIOS Martinez]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Boricua Popular Army or EPB (a revolutionary group also known as Los Macheteros); note - the following radical groups are considered dormant by Federal law enforcement: Armed Forces for National Liberation or FALN, Armed Forces of Popular Resistance, Volunteers of the Puerto Rican Revolution
International organization participation:
Interpol (subbureau), IOC, ITUC, UNWTO (associate), UPU, WCL, WFTU
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)
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 far 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 2004. Growth fell off in 2001-03, largely due to the slowdown in the US economy, recovered in 2004-05, but declined again in 2006.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$74.89 billion (2006 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
NA (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
0.5% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$19,100 (2006 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 45%
services: 54% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
1.3 million (2000)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 3%
industry: 20%
services: 77% (2000 est.)
Unemployment rate:
12% (2002)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6.5% (2003 est.)
revenues: $6.7 billion
expenditures: $9.6 billion; including capital expenditures of $NA (FY99/00)
Agriculture - products:
sugarcane, coffee, pineapples, plantains, bananas; livestock products, chickens
pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products, tourism
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
24.14 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.2%
hydro: 0.8%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
22.45 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
721.8 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
234,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA bbl/day (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day (2001)
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
680 million cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
680 million cu m (2004 est.)
$46.9 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Exports - commodities:
chemicals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates, medical equipment
Exports - partners:
US 90.3%, UK 1.6%, Netherlands 1.4%, Dominican Republic 1.4% (2004)
$29.1 billion c.i.f. (2001)
Imports - commodities:
chemicals, machinery and equipment, clothing, food, fish, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
US 55.0%, Ireland 23.7%, Japan 5.4% (2004)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - recipient:
Currency (code):
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:
1,111,900 (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
2.682 million (2004)
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: country code - 1-787, 939; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat; submarine cable to US
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 74, FM 53, shortwave 0 (2006)
2.7 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
32 (2006)
1.021 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
404 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
76 (2000)
Internet users:
1 million (2005)
Transportation Puerto Rico
30 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 17
over 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 5 (2006)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 13
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 10 (2006)
total: 96 km
narrow gauge: 96 km 1.000-m gauge (2005)
total: 25,735 km
paved: 24,353 km (including 427 km of expressways)
unpaved: 1,382 km (2005)
Merchant marine:
total: 3 ships (1000 GRT or over) 77,177 GRT/50,138 DWT
by type: roll on/roll off 3
foreign-owned: 3 (US 3)
registered in other countries: 1 (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Las Mareas, Mayaguez, San Juan
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:
increasing numbers of illegal migrants from the Dominican Republic cross the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico each year looking for work

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007