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This article was written on 27 Jul 2010, and is filled under To: Puerto Rico.

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Discover Puerto Rico

Discover Puerto Rico

Discover Puerto Rico...

Welcome to Puerto Rico, the “Island of Enchantment”. Its culture is a unique mix of Spanish, Amerindian, African, and North American influences, which makes for a rich cultural and entertainment scene. Viva la Vida Loca!


HISTORY

The Taíno Indians, Puerto Rico’s first residents, knew the island as Boriken, “the great land of the valiant and noble Lord”. Christopher Columbus discovered Puerto Rico in 1493 and named the island San Juan de Bautista. In 1508 his lieutenant Juan Ponce de Leon took control of the island and became the first governor. The Taínos were enslaved and forced to toil in the mines in harsh conditions. Exhaustion, brutal treatments, and disease took a heavy toll on the indigenous population, which was reduced from 30 000 souls in 1493 to 4000 by 1514.

When the mines ran out, the Spanish switched to agriculture, and African slaves were soon imported to work on the fields. In 1521, Ponce de Leon laid the foundations of the capital city of San Juan, one of the very first towns built in the Americas. Throughout the colonial period, the Dutch, the French, and the British made multiple attempts to take control of Puerto Rico, but were ultimately unsuccessful, and thus the island remained a Spanish possession until the Spanish-American war in 1898. Having been defeated, the Spanish gave up their claim on Puerto Rico, and the island became a U.S. territory.

Since 1917, Puerto Rico’s inhabitants have American citizenship, but the constitution adopted in 1952 gives them a certain level of autonomy. In the 1950s, major projects aimed at economic growth and reducing poverty led to a spectacular development of the island, which is now home to a number of activities, such as trade, finance, tourism, and communications. Despite American influence, Puerto Rico retains a decidedly Latin flavor, with a thriving music scene, historic sites from the colonial period, and Spanish-style festivals. Partygoers will definitely love San Juan’s nightlife options.

Puerto Rico is an archipelago that includes the largest island of Puerto Rico and a series of smaller islands – Mona, Culebra, Vieques, Desecheo, and Caja de Muertos. Of Puerto Rico’s 4 million inhabitants, the vast majority are of European ancestry, including Spanish, Irish, French, Scottish, German, Italian, and Corsican. Spanish and English are the official languages, but we strongly suggest you learn some Spanish if you’re planning to travel beyond San Juan.

ACTIVITIES

Puerto Rico has plenty of outdoor activities to keep visitors busy. You can surf along the west coast, explore the caves in the north, or hike through the forest reserves.

Other sports activities include tennis, golf, fishing, and diving.

If you’re looking for beaches, Puerto Rico won’t disappoint you. Vieques and Culebra have some of the best stretches of sand on the archipelago.

If you’re interested in history, take some time explore the historical buildings of Old San Juan. Puerto Rico’s lively capital has good eateries, excellent shopping opportunities, and a thriving nightlife.

If you enjoyed this post, check out our other discovery articles, such as Discover Guadeloupe.

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