|Commonwealth of Puerto Rico|
Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico
|Government||United States territory|
|Language||Spanish, English (official)|
|Area||3,515 sq mi|
|GDP 2015||$125.861 billion|
|GDP per capita||$27,939|
|Internet top-level domain||.pr|
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is part of the United States with Commonwealth status, located in the Caribbean Sea. Citizens of Puerto Rico have full American citizenship. Puerto Rico was ceded to the United States by Spain under Article xi of the Treaty of Paris dated December 10, 1898.
Puerto Rico is the smallest of the Greater Antilles islands, which include Cuba (the largest), Hispaniola (divided between the countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and Jamaica. Puerto Rico is only 100 miles long by 35 miles wide. It is 1000 miles from Miami.
Puerto Rico is often referred to as Borinquen or Borikén, indigenous names, as well as Isla del Encanto (Island of Enchantment) and Perla del Caribe (Pearl of the Caribbean). Puerto Ricans speak Spanish and refer to themselves as Puertorriqueños or Boricuas. Boricua is used as a term of endearment and cultural affirmation.
Giant Radio Telescope
The Arecibo Radio Telescope, which is located at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, is the largest dish antenna in the world. It spans 1,000 feet across. It redirects and focuses radio waves heard from the sky into a feed antenna that is suspended above it on cables. The dish itself is immobile, constructed into a bowl in the landscape. The telescope is directed at various changing parts of the sky by shifting the dome (feed antenna) on its metal track, which is curved.
For decades this radio telescope has listened for any intelligent life in outer space, and found none.
Before the Spaniards discovered Puerto Rico, it was populated by Taíno Indians. The Taínos were a peaceful, gentle nation. They welcomed the conquistadores and shared their homes and food and gave the Spaniards many gifts.
Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain in his second voyage and discovered Puerto Rico on December 19, 1492. He named the island San Juan Bautista. Columbus thought this island to be very beautiful and wrote so in his diary. Columbus is revered today in Puerto Rico, although he personally may have never actually set foot on the island. Soon after, the island's name was changed to Puerto Rico. Columbus's ships were named La Niña, La Pinta, and the Santa María. Juan Ponce de León colonized Borinquen in 1508 and became its first governor. The Spaniard conquistadores were looking for gold. They made slaves of the Indians slowly killing them from overwork. Soon thereafter African families were brought to the island as slaves. Ponce de León, the incredible explorer, was born in Valencia, Spain, in 1460. As a teenager he joined Spanish forces that defeated the Moors. In 1492 he accompanied Columbus in his second voyage to America. Later Ponce de León was granted a commission to explore Borinquen. He then set out to colonize the island of San Juan Bautista and build the first settlement called Caparra. He served as first governor from 1509-12. During his term as governor the island's name was changed from San Juan Bautista to Puerto Rico. Ponce de Leon went on to achieve other great accomplishments. His tomb is found at the San Juan Cathedral in Old San Juan. His family estate is the Casa Blanca, a popular tourist site.
Many families from Spain and other European nations moved to the island. Slowly the Taíno Indians married either Africans or Europeans forming a new ethnic group called the Criollas. Today there are many European, African, and Criolla families in Puerto Rico.