Puerto Rico's Timeline

A historical timeline of Puerto Rican events

Those seeking a specific event in Puerto Rico's history may find it easiest to explore a timeline. A simple click on any of the events on this timeline will take you to an article exploring that event and time period in detail.

The articles are arranged in chronological order, but some events are better understood with a bit more background. In particular, regional and even world politics played an important role in the events that defined and shaped Puerto Rico.

Year Event
1493 Columbus reaches the island, calls it San Juan Bautista
Juan Ponce de León forms the first permanent colony
Taínos rebelled against Spanish rule, but are forced to surrender or flee
Diego Columbus given control of the island
French troops attacked the island
Authorities on the island requested further defenses
Casa Blanca replaced by a stone building
Authorities on the island requested further defenses
La Fortaleza in Santa Catalina began construction
The Columbus family relinquished its political rights to the island
1540 La Fortaleza finished construction
Villa de San Germán fort under construction
El Morro in San Juan under construction
1542 Villa de San Germán fort completed construction
1545 System of Alcaldes-Gobernadores abolished
Gobernador Letrado leads colony
1564 Gobernado Letrado becomes military captain-general
1585 Spain and England engage in war
1586 British Sir Francis Drake destroy many Spanish settlements in the region
1588 Spanish Armada defeated by England
1589 El Morro fortress construction completed
1595 Queen Elizabeth sends Drake and John Hawkins to take Puerto Rico
King forbids growth of ginger
1602 Epidemic strikes Puerto Rico
King again forbids growth of ginger
1603 Queen Elizabeth dies
James I ascends the British throne and makes peace with Spain
1608 Epidemic strikes Puerto Rico
1609 Epidemic strikes Puerto Rico
1625 Dutch attack Puerto Rico
1632 Idea of walling San Juan city was reignited
1634 Ground was broken on the construction of a city wall
1638 Wall was finished
1688 San Germán gained its own parish church
1701 War of the Spanish Succession begins
1736 Coffee introduced to Puerto Rico from Hispaniola
1739 War of Jenkins' Ear begins
1755 Spain's crown created the Compañia de Barcelona
1765 Alejandro O'Reilly reports on Puerto Rico for the crown
1778 Foreign immigration allowed by royal decree
1785 Real Factoría develops as a royal monopoly on trade with the Netherlands
1796 Spain joins the war against England (American Revolutionary War)
1797 British attempt to take San Juan
1808 Peninsular War begins between France (Napoleon) and Spain
1810 South American Spanish colonies revolt under Simón Bolívar
1812 War of 1812 disrupts trade with the U.S.
1815 King Ferdinand VII in Spain restored; introduces Real Cédula de Gracias
1820 Slave trade banned nominally
1825 Governor of Puerto Rico given nearly unlimited powers on the island
1845 Slave trade banned by Britain and pressure put on Spain to enforce ban
1849 Enforced labor on Puerto Rico
1868 Grito de Lares (Lares Revolt)
1873 Enforced labor stopped for Puerto Rico
1898 Autonomy given to Puerto Rico by Spain
Spanish-American War breaks out
U.S. gains Puerto Rico in War
1900 Foraker Act passes
1917 Jones Act passes
1947 Industrial Incentive Act passes
1948 Puerto Rico's first election for governor, Luis Muñoz Marín wins
1950 Public Law 600 enacted, allows Puerto Rico to write its own Constitution
1952 Puerto Rico becomes a Commonwealth
1964 Luis Muñoz Marín does not run for re-election as Governor
1967 Puerto Rico votes to remain a Commonwealth
1976 Puerto Rico taxes under Section 936
1993 Puerto Rico votes to remain a Commonwealth
1996 Puerto Rico no longer taxed under Section 936
1998 Puerto Rico votes to remain a Commonwealth
2006 Puerto Rico closes government offices due to financing issues

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