Many believe that Archaic Indians from South America first came to Puerto Rico around 4500 B.C. Several other groups of people would migrate to Puerto Rico over the next 6,500 years, bringing with them unique cultural influences that have shaped the spirited people and the vibrant heritage of the Caribbean port that greets visitors today.
Columbus discovered Puerto Rico on his second voyage across the Atlantic in 1493. The island is located east of the Dominican Republic, an archipelago between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Puerto Rico has a total area of 3,515 square miles. Its highest point being Cerro de Punta, which reaches 4,390 feet above sea level.
With gold as a natural resource, Puerto Rico was immediately claimed for the Spanish, and Juan Ponce de León founded the first settlement in Puerto Rico at Caparra. The Spanish and some 50,000 Taino Indians indigenous to Puerto Rico soon became embroiled in conflicts. Even though the Spanish virtually decimated the indigenous population, remnants of their heritage and folklore have persisted in the culture of Puerto Rico. Today, there is no doubting the Spanish influences that made the island what it is today. Latin culture is everywhere from the cuisine, music, dance, and language. Read more about the history of Puerto Rico by clicking here.
...a proud heritage...
Other influences, namely African and American, have combined with the Spanish and Taino culture to create the unique and charismatic mélange that makes up the modern day culture of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States of America, which means it is subject to the United States jurisdiction and sovereignty, and their head of state is the U.S. president. On the island, Puerto Rico also follows a republic form of government, with three houses of government, and a governor leading the executive branch. Neither American nor Spanish, Puerto Rico has a proud heritage and population that is unique in the Caribbean and the world. Today, there are over three million residents who inhabit the island, and with over one million visitors who arrive each year during tourist season, the island is always filled with people, and alive with activity.
Closely tied with the economy of the United States, Puerto Rico's economy flourishes under tax incentives that encourages industry. Historically, agriculture was a huge part of the gross domestic product, however, in recent years agricultural income has dropped down to just 1 percent of the GDP. Investment and manufacturing are among primary industries, as is tourism. With an average of four million tourists visiting the island each year, spending about $2 billion, the tourism industry is able to provide jobs to over 60,000 residents.
Vacationers who travel to Puerto Rico will experience firsthand the energy and spice of the island and its people. The flavorful cocina criolla unique to Puerto Rico will provide the spice at the dinner table, while salsa dancing spices up the nightlife. Visitors will find luminous beaches, adventurous eco-tourism, intriguing art, and much more when they visit Puerto Rico.
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