Puerto Rico, Yesterday and Today
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. The main island of Puerto Rico is the smallest by land area of the Greater Antilles. It ranks third in population among that group of four islands, which include Cuba, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), and Jamaica. Due to its location, Puerto Rico enjoys a tropical climate and is subject to the Atlantic hurricane season. Official languages of the island are Spanish and English, with Spanish being the primary language. Originally populated for centuries by indigenous aboriginal peoples known as Taínos, the island was claimed by Christopher Columbus for Spain during his second voyage to the Americas on November 19, 1493. Under Spanish rule, the island was colonized and the indigenous population was forced into slavery and wiped out due to, among other things, European infectious diseases. Spain possessed Puerto Rico for over 400 years, despite attempts at capture of the island by the French, Dutch, and British. In 1898, Spain ceded the archipelago, as well as the Philippines, to the United States as a result of its defeat in the Spanish–American War under the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1898. In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship and since 1948 have elected their own governor. In 1952 the Constitution of Puerto Rico was adopted and ratified by the electorate. A democratically elected bicameral legislature is in place but the United States Congress legislates many fundamental aspects of Puerto Rican life. The islanders may not vote in U.S. presidential elections because the territory is not a state. The island's current political status, including the possibility of statehood or independence, is widely debated in Puerto Rico. In November 2012, a non-binding referendum resulted in 54 percent of respondents voting to reject the current status under the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution. Among respondents to a second question about alternatives, 61 percent voted for statehood as the preferred alternative to the current territorial status.
Puerto Rico might be a small island, but it is surrounded by more than 270 miles of beautiful coastline. And it’s not just the quantity of beaches that’s impressive. There’s an endless number of activities you can do under the sun. Some offer you world-class surfing. Others feature miles of reefs with plenty of marine life to admire. Even if you just want to spend the day relaxing just taking in the beauty of white sand and turquoise water, there’s a beach just for you. It’s no wonder why a few of them have been recognized as the best in the world.
What you’ll see below sea level in Puerto Rico will be above and beyond your expectations. You’ll witness entire kingdoms of coral reefs, miles of sea grass beds, and an astounding diversity of marine life. The visibility in our waters tops many other Caribbean destinations and many experienced tour operators are on call to take you to any diving spot. Blue tangs, barracudas, starfish, turtles, puffers, angelfish, octopi, and hundreds of others species of marine life are waiting for your visit.
Surfing & Kite Boarding
The first surfers came to Puerto Rico in the 1960s. And as soon as they caught that first wave, they haven’t left. It’s the reason why beaches such as those in the West coast town of Rincón are consistently picked among the best in the world and yearly serve as hosts for the top surf competitions. Our weather is also perfect for newer activities such as kite boarding and paddle boarding, two of the most fastest-growing water sports in Puerto Rico. When you combine the trade winds that blow on our shores with spectacular yearlong weather, Puerto Rico is one of the world’s premier surfing destinations. It’s often called the “Hawaii of the Atlantic.
"Cocina criolla" is the typical cuisine of Puerto Rico. It’s a unique blend of the cooking styles of all Island's various ethnic settlers. The mingling of flavors and ingredients passed from generation to generation began with the Arawak and Taino Indians who started the tradition of cooking with corn and root vegetables. The Spanish then influenced the use of garbanzo beans, rice, cilantro and garlic, while the African slaves brought with them pigeon peas and starchy vegetables such as yautia and plantains—all of which have become staples of Puerto Rican fare.
Salsa & Merengue
Puerto Ricans take their music seriously. It’s almost impossible to keep your body still when the rhythms of Salsa and Merengue fill the air, which is pretty much all the time. Besides the sexy up-tempo Salsa, keep an ear open for Bomba and Plena, two popular types of folk music that originated with slave groups and are coupled with dance. Seis is another old form of folk music with a dance-and-chant style
Kite Flying at El Morro
The most popular spot on the island for Kite Flying is the wide, open field of El Morro. The area around the historical landmark contains all the necessary conditions for successful kite flying in a picturesque setting: the sprawling green lawn, the open airspace (no power lines or aircraft), and the constant, unrelenting trade winds. With these characteristics, it's no wonder why kite flying in El Morro is something every Puerto Rican family tries at least once." Having fun in Old San Juan is not very hard. You could just buy a couple of kites and go crazy over the open green grass fields by El Morro. But if you prefer your schedule to be a bit more structured, any of these tours will show you around a city like no other.