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 The Caribbean Island Of Puerto Rico

San Juan Puerto Rico Puerto Rico officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: "Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico") literally Associated Free State of Puerto Rico, is a self-governing unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands. Puerto Rico is composed of an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands and keys, the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. The main island of Puerto Rico is the smallest by land area and second smallest by population among the four Greater Antilles, which also include Cuba, Hispaniola, and Jamaica. 

Puerto Ricans often call the island Borinquen, from Borikén, its indigenous Taíno name. The terms boricua and borincano derive from Borikén and Borinquen respectively, and are commonly used to identify someone of Puerto Rican heritage. The island is also popularly known as "La Isla del Encanto", which translated means "The Island of Enchantment."

Pre-Columbian era
The history of the archipelago of Puerto Rico before the arrival of Christopher Columbus is not well known. What is known today comes from archaeological findings and early Spanish accounts. The first comprehensive book on the history of Puerto Rico was written by Fray Iñigo Abbad y Lasierra in 1786, 293 years after the first Spaniards arrived on the island.

The first settlers were the Ortoiroid people, an Archaic Period culture of Amerindian hunters and fishermen. An archaeological dig in the island of Vieques in 1990 found the remains of what is believed to be an Arcaico (Archaic) man (named Puerto Ferro man) dated to around 2000 BC. Between AD 120 and 400 arrived the Igneri, a tribe from the South American Orinoco region. Between the 4th and 10th centuries, the Arcaicos and Igneri co-existed (and perhaps clashed) on the island. Between the 7th and 11th centuries the Taíno culture developed on the island, and by approximately 1000 AD had become dominant. This lasted until Christopher Columbus arrived in 1492.

Spanish colony
When Christopher Columbus arrived in Puerto Rico during his second voyage on November 19, 1493, the island was inhabited by a group of Arawak Indians known as Taínos. They called the island "Borikén" or, in Spanish, "Borinquen".[9] Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of Saint John the Baptist. Later the island took the name of Puerto Rico (Spanish for "Rich Port") while the capital was named San Juan. In 1508, Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León became the island's first governor to take office.

The Spanish soon colonized the island. Taínos were forced into slavery and were decimated by the harsh conditions of work and by diseases brought by the Spaniards. In 1511, the Taínos revolted against the Spanish; cacique Urayoán, as planned by Agüeybaná II, ordered his warriors to drown the Spanish soldier Diego Salcedo to determine whether the Spaniards were immortal. After drowning Salcedo, they kept watch over his body for three days to confirm his death. The revolt was easily crushed by Ponce de León and within a few decades much of the native population had been decimated by disease, violence, and a high occurrence of suicide. By 1520, when Charles V issued a royal decree that collectively emancipated the remaining Taíno population, the Taíno presence had almost vanished. African slaves were introduced to replace the Taíno. Puerto Rico soon became an important stronghold and port for the Spanish Empire. Various forts and walls, such as La Fortaleza, El Castillo San Felipe del Morro and El Castillo de San Cristóbal, were built to protect the port of San Juan from European enemies. France, The Netherlands and England made several attempts to capture Puerto Rico but failed to wrest long-term occupancy. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries colonial emphasis was on the more prosperous mainland territories, leaving the island impoverished of settlers. 


Puerto Rico mapPuerto Rico consists of the main island of Puerto Rico and various smaller islands, including Vieques, Culebra, Mona, Desecheo, and Caja de Muertos. Of these last five, only Culebra and Vieques are inhabited year-round. Mona is uninhabited most of the year except for employees of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources. There are also many other even smaller islands including Monito and "La Isleta de San Juan" which includes Old San Juan and Puerta de Tierra.

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has an area of 5,325 square miles (13,790 km2), of which 3,425 square miles (8,870 km2) is land and 1,900 square miles (4,900 km2) is water. The maximum length of the main island from east to west is 110 miles (180 km), and the maximum width from north to south is 40 miles (64 km). Comparing land areas, Puerto Rico is 8/10 the size of Jamaica and 8/100 the size of Cuba, the next smallest and the largest countries in the Greater Antilles, respectively. Compared to U.S. states, it is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined, but slightly smaller than Connecticut. The main island is mostly mountainous with large coastal areas in the north and south. The main mountain range is called "La Cordillera Central" (The Central Range). The highest elevation in Puerto Rico, Cerro de Punta (4,390 feet; 1,338 m), is located in this range. Another important peak is El Yunque, one of the highest in the Sierra de Luquillo at the El Yunque National Forest, with an elevation of 3,494 feet (1,065 m).

Puerto Rico has 17 lakes, all man-made, and more than 50 rivers, most originating in the Cordillera Central. Rivers in the northern region of the island are typically longer and of higher water flow rates than those of the south, since the south receives less rain than the central and northern regions.

Puerto Rico is composed of Cretaceous to Eocene volcanic and plutonic rocks, overlain by younger Oligocene and more recent carbonates and other sedimentary rocks. Most of the caverns and karst topography on the island occurs in the northern region in the carbonates. The oldest rocks are approximately 190 million years old (Jurassic) and are located at Sierra Bermeja in the southwest part of the island. They may represent part of the oceanic crust and are believed to come from the Pacific Ocean realm.

Puerto Rico lies at the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates and is being deformed by the tectonic stresses caused by their interaction. These stresses may cause earthquakes and tsunamis. These seismic events, along with landslides, represent some of the most dangerous geologic hazards in the island and in the northeastern Caribbean. The most recent major earthquake occurred on October 11, 1918 and had an estimated magnitude of 7.5 on the Richter scale. It originated off the coast of Aguadilla and was accompanied by a tsunami.
In the early 1900s the greatest contributor to Puerto Rico's economy was agriculture and its main crop was sugar. In the late 1940s a series of projects codenamed Operation Bootstrap encouraged a significant shift to manufacture via tax exemptions. Manufacturing quickly replaced agriculture as the main industry of the island. Puerto Rico is classified as a high income country by the World Bank.

Economic conditions have improved dramatically since the Great Depression due to external investment in capital-intensive industries such as petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and technology. Once the beneficiary of special tax treatment from the U.S. government, today local industries must compete with those in more economically depressed parts of the world where wages are not subject to U.S. minimum wage legislation. In recent years, some U.S. and foreign owned factories have moved to lower wage countries in Latin America and Asia. Puerto Rico is subject to U.S. trade laws and restrictions.

Also, starting around 1950, there was heavy migration from Puerto Rico to the Continental United States, particularly New York City, in search of better economic conditions. Puerto Rican migration to New York displayed an average yearly migration of 1,800 for the years 1930-1940, 31,000 for 1946-1950, 45,000 for 1951-1960, and a peak of 75,000 in 1953. As of 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that more people of Puerto Rican birth or ancestry live in the U.S. than in Puerto Rico.

On May 1, 2006, the Puerto Rican government faced significant shortages in cash flows, which forced the closure of the local Department of Education and 42 other government agencies. All 1,536 public schools closed, and 95,762 people were furloughed in the first-ever partial shutdown of the government in the island's history. On May 10, 2006, the budget crisis was resolved with a new tax reform agreement so that all government employees could return to work. On November 15, 2006 a 5.5% sales tax was implemented. Municipalities are required by law to apply a municipal sales tax of 1.5% bringing the total sales tax to 7%.

Tourism is an important component of Puerto Rican economy supplying an approximate $1.8 billion. In 1999, an estimated 5 million tourists visited the island, most from the U.S. Nearly a third of these are cruise ship passengers. A steady increase in hotel registrations since 1998 and the construction of new hotels and new tourism projects, such as the Puerto Rico Convention Center, indicate the current strength of the tourism industry.

Puerto Ricans had median household income of $17,741 for 2007, which makes Puerto Rico's economy comparable to the independent nations of Latvia or Poland.[68] By comparison, the poorest state of the Union, Mississippi, had median household income of $36,338 in 2007. Puerto Rico’s public debt has grown at a faster pace than the growth of its economy, reaching $46.7 billion in 2008.[70] In January 2009, Governor Luis Fortuño enacted several measures aimed at eliminating the government's $3.3 billion deficit. The island unemployment rate is 12% as January 2009.

The official languages are Spanish and English with Spanish being the primary language. English is taught as a second language in public and private schools from elementary levels to high school and in universities.Particularly, the Spanish of Puerto Rico, has evolved into having many idiosyncrasies that differentiate it from the language as spoken in other Spanish-speaking countries. This is mainly due to the influences from ancestral languages, such as those from the Taínos and Africans, and more recently from the English language influence resulting from its relationship with the United States.

Puerto Rican culture is a mix of four cultures, African (from the slaves), Taíno (Amerindians), Spanish, and more recently, North American. From Africans, the Puerto Ricans have obtained the "bomba and plena", a type of music and dance including percussions and maracas. From the Amerindians (Taínos), they kept many names for their municipalities, foods, musical instruments like the güiro and maracas. Many words and other objects have originated from their localized language. From the Spanish they received the Spanish language, the Catholic religion and the vast majority of their cultural and moral values and traditions. From the United States they received the English language, the university system and a variety of hybrid cultural forms that developed between the U.S. mainland and the island of Puerto Rico. The University of Puerto Rico was founded in 1903, five years after the island became part of the U.S.

Much of the Puerto Rican culture centers on the influence of music. Like the country as a whole, Puerto Rican music has been developed by mixing other cultures with its own unique flavor. Early in the history of Puerto Rican music, the influences of African and Spanish traditions were most noticeable. However, the cultural movements across the Caribbean and North America have played a vital role in the more recent musical influences that have reached Puerto Rico.[86][87]

The official symbols of Puerto Rico are the Reinita mora or Puerto Rican Spindalis (a type of bird), the Flor de Maga (a type of flower), and the Ceiba or Kapok (a type of tree). The unofficial animal and a symbol of Puerto Rican pride is the Coquí (a type of frog). Other popular symbols of Puerto Rico are the "jíbaro", the "countryman", and the carite 

 Flag of Puerto Rico

Flag of Puerto Rico

The origins of the current Flag of Puerto Rico can be traced to 1868, when the first Puerto Rican flag was conceived by Dr. Ramon Emeterio Betances and embroidered by Mariana "Brazos de Oro" Bracetti. On the September 23, 1868, the flag, which later became known as "The Revolutionary Flag of Lares" and is now the official flag of the Municipality of Lares, Puerto Rico, was proclaimed the national flag of the "Republic of Puerto Rico" by Francisco Ramírez Medina, who was sworn in as Puerto Rico's first president, during the short lived Puerto Rican revolt against Spanish rule in the island which is known as "El Grito de Lares". The flag, which was modeled after the Flag of the Dominican Republic, was divided in the middle by a white Latin cross, the two lower corners were red and the two upper corners were blue with a yellow star in the upper left blue corner.

Juan de Mata Terreforte, a revolutionist who fought alongside Manuel Rojas in "El Grito de Lares", was exiled to New York City. There he became the Vice-President of Puerto Rican Revolutionary Committee, a Chapter of the Cuban Revolutionary Party.Terreforte and the members of the Revolutionary committee adopted the Flag of Lares as the flag of Puerto Rico.It became their standard until 1892, when the current design, modeled after the Cuban flag, was unveiled and adopted by the committee. The new flag consisted of five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center.

The use and display of the Puerto Rican flag was outlawed and the only flags permitted to be flown in Puerto Rico were the Spanish flag (1492 to 1898) and the flag of the United States (1898 to 1952). In 1952, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico adopted the same flag design, which was unveiled in 1892 by the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Committee, as its official standard without specifying the tones of colors to be used. The color of the triangle that was used by the administration of Luis Muñoz Marín was the dark blue that is used in the flag of the United States, instead of the original light blue.

In 1995, the government of Puerto Rico issued a regulation in regard to the use of the Puerto Rican flag titled: "Reglamento sobre el Uso en Puerto Rico de la Bandera del Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico" in which the government specifies the colors to be used but, does not specify any official color tones or shades. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see the Flag of Puerto Rico with different shades of blue displayed in the island. On March 15, 2009, the Puerto Rican flag was taken aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery during its flight into Outer Space. That flag will be given to the government of Puerto Rico during astronaut Joseph Acaba's visit June 1-6.

Other flags used and flown in Puerto Rico are the flags of each of the 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico which represents the region and its people. Most of the political parties in Puerto Rico also have their own flags, which are usually displayed in public during rallies, meetings, or parades in show of political strength and unity. 

 Getting Married in Puerto Rico

Getting Married in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Marriage Requirements

The information below outlines the marriage requirements for getting married in Puerto Rico
Marriage license papers must be requested in writing via the registry address below. Both the bride and groom must appear in person at the time of applying for the papers.

The amount of time needed to complete the license requirements is around 2 months, so prepare in advance!
Documents Required

* If either party is a citizen or resident of a country other than the U.S, a declaration certifying that he or she is not married must be sworn before a Notary Public or other person authorized to administer paths in that country. This declaration must accompany the application.
* Original passports
* If previously married, you need a certified copy of divorce or death decree with a raised seal prior to a marriage license being granted
* Blood tests are required, although a test conducted on the U.S. mainland within 10 days of the ceremony will suffice. A doctor in Puerto Rico must sign the license after conducting an examination of the bride and groom
* Written consent of parents is required where individuals are under 21, but over 16

There are no fees for the license and private ceremony or hotel fees average around U.S. $150 - $350.

All documents must be authenticated at the Marriage License Bureau.

Officiants: Marriages may be performed by a judge in his chambers (at a fee, although the legality of what seems to be a prevailing custom has recently been questioned) or in open court at no fee. They may also be performed by any clergyman authorized to perform marriage ceremonies.

Valid: License is good indefinitely.

The license can only be used within the U.S. or Puerto Rico.

Copy of Certificate of Marriage can be obtained from the Demographic Registry (address below)

Central office has had records since July 22, 1931. Copies of earlier records may be obtained by writing to Local Registrar (Registrador Demografico) in municipality where event occurred or by writing to central office for information.

Money order should be made payable to Secretary of the Treasury. Personal checks are not accepted. To verify current fees, the telephone number is 787.728.7980.
Registrars Offices

The registrar's office should be contacted for specific rules regarding planning your destination or beach wedding in Puerto Rico. They will also provide information regarding marriage licenses and marriage certificates.

Demographic Registry
P.O. Box 11854
Fernandez Juncos Station
San Juan, PR 00910

Tel: 787 728 7980

 Things to Do In Puerto Rico

Things to Do In Puerto Rico

Due to its relative large size, there are more Puerto Rico tourist attractions than nearly any other Caribbean island. From windsurfing lessons to Pina Coladas on the beach to the non-stop nightclubs and casinos to the colonial architecture preserved in Old San Juan, you'll never hurt for things to do in Puerto Rico.

Old San Juan
Probably the highlight of Puerto Rico tourism, over 400 buildings form the Old Town, carefully restored and brought to life under the hot Caribbean sun. Head down Paseo de la Princesa to get a warm introduction into the area, and then veer off as you see fit.

El Morro
This is probably the most popular of Puerto Rico tourist attractions in Old San Juan. The remains of a 16th century Spanish fortress, what once repelled raiders from the sea now acts as a step back into Puerto Rican history, complete with museum inside.

Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel, Spa and Casino
One of the most popular things to do in Puerto Rico is to try your luck at one of the beachfront casinos in San Juan. Blackjack, Caribbean Stud, Pai-Gow, and all the slot machines and roulette wheels are just ready and waiting for you at this posh gambling hall.

Surfing on Crashboat Beach
Rincon is world famous as a surfer's paradise, and the priceless waves at Crashboat Beach make it one of the top Puerto Rico attractions. The choppy waters make it a bit tough for beginners, but the sense of accomplishment derived from standing on these waves, if only for a second, will be more than enough to keep you coming back early every morning.

Puerto Mosquito
A sleepy spot on Vieques Island, a visit here is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico. For here you'll find the famed bioluminescent bay, where the waters erupt in light every evening, thanks to the miniscule plankton that act like fireflies of the sea.

Hang out with the turtles on Culebra Island
If you want to really get up close to the island's aquatic creatures, the wildlife reserve on Culebra Island will be one of your favorite Puerto Rico attractions. Especially popular during nesting season, watch the leatherback turtles skitter into the ocean for the first time, full of life and possibility.

Dive off Mona Island
The coral reefs here are unmatched, and alive with thousands of colorful fish and other slick sea creatures. If you are a certified diver, you'll find no better Puerto Rico tourist attractions than Mona Island.

Discover the Rio Camuy Caves
Towering caverns mark this wonderful natural attraction, and exploring the mammoth caves in this sinkhole-filled forest is one of the best things to do in Puerto Rico.

Tour the El Yunque Rainforest
Puerto Rico's greatest naturally occurring attraction, the soundtrack to your expedition is ably commanded by the parrots and frogs of the forest, and the hundreds of varieties of tropical vegetation will amaze and delight as you step lightly across trails damp with new rain. 

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