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Facts about Puerto Rico for Kids

Puerto Rico officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico (Spanish for “rich port”) comprises an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands, the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, and Mona.

  • Puerto Ricans often call the island Borinquen, from Borikén, its indigenous Taíno name, which means “Land of the Valiant Lord”.
  • Puerto Rican culture reflects aspects of Taíno influences within its music and vocabulary, as some words entered the Spanish vocabulary and later English.
  • However, the number of slaves on the island was smaller than on Cuba, Saint-Domingue and Guadeloupe, where Spanish and French developed large sugar plantations based on slave labor.
  • As independence movements in the larger Spanish colonies gained success, Spain began to pay attention to Puerto Rico as one of its last remaining maritime colonies.
  • In the early 19th century, Puerto Rico had an independence movement which, due to the harsh persecution by the Spanish authorities, met in the island of St. Thomas.
  • Free land was offered as an incentive to those who wanted to populate the two islands on the condition that they swear their loyalty to the Spanish Crown and allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church.
  • Part of his strategy called for the acquisition of colonies in the Caribbean, which would serve as coaling and naval stations.
  • Spain relinquished sovereignty over Cuba, but did not cede it to the U.S. The United States and Puerto Rico began a long-standing metropoli-colony relationship.
  • The Foraker Act of 1900 gave Puerto Rico a certain amount of civilian popular government, including a popularly elected House of Representatives.
  • Puerto Rico adopted the name of Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico (literally “Associated Free State of Puerto Rico”), officially translated into English as Commonwealth), for its body politic.
  • As an unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico does not have any first-order administrative divisions as defined by the U.S. government, but has 78 municipalities at the second level.
  • In 1967, Puerto Rico’s Legislative Assembly polled the political preferences of the Puerto Rican electorate by passing a plebiscite act that provided for a vote on the status of Puerto Rico.
  • remains an unincorporated territory and does not have the status of ‘free association’ with the United States as that status is defined under United States law or international practice”, that the establishment of local self-government with the consent of the people can be unilaterally revoked by the U.S. Congress, and that U.S. Congress can also withdraw the U.S. citizenship of Puerto Rican residents of Puerto Rico at any time, for a legitimate Federal purpose.
  • These seismic events, along with landslides, represent some of the most dangerous geologic hazards in the island and in the northeastern Caribbean.
  • The official languages of the executive branch of government of Puerto Rico are Spanish and English, with Spanish being the primary language.