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  Introduction Back To Top

Populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following COLUMBUS' second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly-elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose not to alter the existing political status.

  Geography Back To Top

Land boundaries:
0 km

tropical marine, mild; little seasonal temperature variation

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

Geographic coordinates:
18 15 N, 66 30 W

Natural resources:
some copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore oil

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Cerro de Punta 1,339 m

mostly mountains with coastal plain belt in north; mountains precipitous to sea on west coast; sandy beaches along most coastal areas

Geography - note:
important location along the Mona Passage - a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal; San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean; many small rivers and high central mountains ensure land is well watered; south coast relatively dry; fertile coastal plain belt in north

total: 13,790 sq km
land: 8,870 sq km
water: 4,921 sq km

Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic

501 km

Area - comparative:
slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island

Irrigated land:
400 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:
erosion; occasional drought causing water shortages

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

Natural hazards:
periodic droughts; hurricanes

Land use:
arable land: 3.69%
permanent crops: 5.59%
other: 90.72% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
1.76 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
7,397 (1997)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.58 years
male: 74.64 years
female: 82.73 years (2008 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 94.1%
male: 93.9%
female: 94.4% (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:
-1.03 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
white (mostly Spanish origin) 80.5%, black 8%, Amerindian 0.4%, Asian 0.2%, mixed 4.2%, other 6.7% (2000 census)

Median age:
total: 35.6 years
male: 33.8 years
female: 37.3 years (2008 est.)

3,958,128 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:

Population growth rate:
0.369% (2008 est.)

Spanish, English

Death rate:
7.88 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 8.65 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.15 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.13 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

Age structure:
0-14 years: 20.5% (male 415,141/female 396,782)
15-64 years: 66% (male 1,254,416/female 1,358,229)
65 years and over: 13.5% (male 229,727/female 303,833) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
12.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%

noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Puerto Rican

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)

National holiday:
US Independence Day, 4 July (1776); Puerto Rico Constitution Day, 25 July (1952)

18 years of age; universal; island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections

Government type:

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Boricua Popular Army or EPB (a revolutionary group also known as Los Macheteros); note - the following radical groups are considered dormant by Federal law enforcement: Armed Forces for National Liberation or FALN, Armed Forces of Popular Resistance, Volunteers of the Puerto Rican Revolution

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)

Dependency status:
unincorporated, organized territory of the US with commonwealth status; policy relations between Puerto Rico and the US conducted under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President

International organization participation:
Caricom (observer), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, ITUC, UNWTO (associate), UPU, WCL, WFTU

Legislative branch:
bicameral Legislative Assembly consists of the Senate (at least 27 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives (51 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held November 2012); House of Representatives - last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - PNP 81.5%, PPD 18.5%; seats by party - PNP 22, PPD 5; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - PNP 72.5%, PPD 27.5%; seats by party - PNP 37, PPD 14
note: Puerto Rico elects, by popular vote, a resident commissioner to serve a four-year term as a nonvoting representative in the US House of Representatives; aside from not voting on the House floor, he enjoys all the rights of a member of Congress; elections last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012); results - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PNP 1

Legal system:
based on Spanish civil code and within the US Federal system of justice

Flag description:
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; design initially influenced by the US flag, but similar to the Cuban flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed

none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
conventional short form: Puerto Rico

Political parties and leaders:
National Democratic Party [Roberto PRATS]; National Republican Party of Puerto Rico [Dr. Tiody FERRE]; New Progressive Party or PNP [Pedro ROSSELLO] (pro-US statehood); Popular Democratic Party or PPD [Anibal ACEVEDO-VILA] (pro-commonwealth); Puerto Rican Independence Party or PIP [Ruben BERRIOS Martinez] (pro-independence)

name: San Juan
geographic coordinates: 18 28 N, 66 07 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

ratified 3 March 1952; approved by US Congress 3 July 1952; effective 25 July 1952

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)
head of government: Governor Luis FORTUNO (since 2 January 2009)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor with the consent of the legislature
elections: under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as Puerto Rico, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in Democratic and Republican presidential primary elections; governor elected by popular vote for a four-year term (no term limits); election last held 4 November 2008 (next to be held in November 2012)
election results: Luis FORTUNO elected governor with 52.8% of the vote

Administrative divisions:
none (territory of the US with commonwealth status); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 78 municipalities (municipios, singular - municipio) at the second order; Adjuntas, Aguada, Aguadilla, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Anasco, Arecibo, Arroyo, Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Bayamon, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Camuy, Canovanas, Carolina, Catano, Cayey, Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Coamo, Comerio, Corozal, Culebra, Dorado, Fajardo, Florida, Guanica, Guayama, Guayanilla, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Hatillo, Hormigueros, Humacao, Isabela, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Juncos, Lajas, Lares, Las Marias, Las Piedras, Loiza, Luquillo, Manati, Maricao, Maunabo, Mayaguez, Moca, Morovis, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Penuelas, Ponce, Quebradillas, Rincon, Rio Grande, Sabana Grande, Salinas, San German, San Juan, San Lorenzo, San Sebastian, Santa Isabel, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Vieques, Villalba, Yabucoa, Yauco

Judicial branch:
Supreme Court; Appellate Court; Court of First Instance composed of two sections: a Superior Court and a Municipal Court (justices for all these courts appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate)

  Economy Back To Top

Electricity - consumption:
22.17 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Debt - external:

Unemployment rate:
12% (2002)

Oil - exports:
10,610 bbl/day (2005)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$18,700 (2008 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$74.15 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$NA (2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
the US dollar is used

GDP - real growth rate:
-2% (2008 est.)

Labor force:
1.3 million (2000)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6.5% (2003 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 1%
industry: 45%
services: 54% (2002 est.)

Oil - imports:
230,700 bbl/day (2005)

$46.9 billion f.o.b. (2001)

Natural gas - consumption:
736.2 million cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
US dollar (USD)

Economy - overview:
Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. A diverse industrial sector has far surpassed agriculture as the primary locus of economic activity and income. Encouraged by duty-free access to the US and by tax incentives, US firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. US minimum wage laws apply. Sugar production has lost out to dairy production and other livestock products as the main source of income in the agricultural sector. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income, with estimated arrivals of nearly 5 million tourists in 2004. Growth fell off in 2001-03, largely due to the slowdown in the US economy, recovered in 2004-05, but declined again in 2006-07.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
chemicals, machinery and equipment, clothing, food, fish, petroleum products

pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products, tourism

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Electricity - production:
23.84 billion kWh (2006 est.)

$29.1 billion c.i.f. (2001)

Oil - proved reserves:
0 bbl (1 January 2006 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 2.1%
industry: 19%
services: 79% (2005)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2006 est.)

Oil - consumption:
215,000 bbl/day (2007 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Currency code:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:
chemicals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates, medical equipment

Economic aid - recipient:

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 99.2%
hydro: 0.8%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
736.2 million cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

revenues: $6.7 billion
expenditures: $9.6 billion (FY99/00)

Fiscal year:
1 July - 30 June

Oil - production:
1,354 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
1 million (2007)

Telephones - main lines in use:
1.038 million (2005)

1.021 million (1997)

Internet country code:

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 74, FM 53, shortwave 0 (2005)

2.7 million (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:
3.354 million (2005)

Television broadcast stations:
32 (2006)

Telephone system:
general assessment: modern system integrated with that of the US by high-capacity submarine cable and Intelsat with high-speed data capability
domestic: digital telephone system; cellular telephone service
international: country code - 1-787, 939; submarine cables provide connectivity to the US, Caribbean, Central and South America; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
76 (2000)

Internet hosts:
404 (2008)

  Transportation Back To Top

total: 96 km
narrow gauge: 96 km 1.000-m gauge (2006)

Ports and terminals:
Guayanilla, Mayaguez, San Juan

Merchant marine:
total: 3
by type: roll on/roll off 3
foreign-owned: 3 (US 3)
registered in other countries: 1 (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 17
over 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 5 (2007)

total: 26,186 km
paved: 24,877 km (includes 427 km of expressways)
unpaved: 1,309 km (2007)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 12
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 10 (2007)

29 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the US

Military branches:
no regular indigenous military forces; paramilitary National Guard, Police Force

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 30,760
female: 29,469 (2008 est.)

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
increasing numbers of illegal migrants from the Dominican Republic cross the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico each year looking for work

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