• Puerto Rico is a self-governing commonwealth in association with the United States. It is not a state of the union, but it has been under the control of the United States since it was annexed in 1898, at the end of the Spanish-American War. The chief of state is the US President and the head of government is an elected Governor.
  • Before it was colonized by Spain in 1508, Puerto Rico was called Boriken or Borinquen, which means: “the great land of the valiant and noble Lord” or “land of the great lords,” by its native inhabitants, the Taínos. The word Boricua refers to a person of Puerto Rican origin.
  • It’s an archipelago, or a group of islands, consisting of one larger island and two inhabited islets in the Caribbean Sea, southeast of Florida and east of Cuba and Hispaniola (Haiti/Dominican Republic.)
  • The population in Puerto Rico is approx. 3.4 million.
  • Ethnic composition: white (mostly Spanish origin) 80.5%, black (East and West African) 8%, Amerindian 0.4%, Asian 0.2%, mixed and other 10.9%.
  • Religion: The major religions are: Catholic (85%), Protestant (8%), non-religious (2.3%), and others (3%).
  • In 2007, it was estimated that there we over 5,000 Muslims in PR, representing about .10% of the population. There are 9 mosques in Puerto Rico in the following locations: Montehiedra, Rio Piedras, Fajardo, Aguadilla, Arecibo, Hatillo, Ponce, Vega Alta, and San Juan

  • Current Issues:

– Financial crisis- Puerto Rico has been experiencing an economic depression for 11 consecutive years. The government owes more than $70 billion USD in outstanding debt

– Waves of Puerto Ricans are leaving the island and migrating to the US because of its current social climate. (Population is declining at 1% per year)

– Puerto Rico struggles with an unemployment rate surpassing 14% in recent years (nearly 17% in 2010) and a per capita income about half the level of the poorest U.S. state, Mississippi.

– Sales tax jumped from 7 to 11.5 percent in July 2015. The cost of living is about 13 percent higher than the U.S. average (Puerto Rico has a higher measure of income inequality than any U.S. state)

– Puerto Rico’s median household annual income is $19,000, about a third of the U.S. median.

– Drugs are behind most local violent crime (PR’s location and association with the US make it a popular drug smuggling port)

– Puerto Ricans are considered US citizens, but are not allowed to vote (unless they live on the mainland US)


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