Portal:Puerto Rico
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Portal:Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rico Portal

Location of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico (Spanish for "Rich Port"; abbreviated PR), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit. "Free Associated State of Puerto Rico") and briefly called Porto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Miami, Florida.

An archipelago among the Greater Antilles, located between the Dominican Republic and the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico includes the eponymous main island and several smaller islands, such as Mona, Culebra, and Vieques. The capital and most populous city is San Juan. The territory's total population is approximately 3.4 million, more than 21 U.S. states. Spanish and English are the official languages of the executive branch of government, though Spanish predominates.

Originally populated by the indigenous Taíno people, Puerto Rico was colonized by Spain following the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1493. It was contested by the French, Dutch, and British, but remained a Spanish possession for the next four centuries. The island's cultural and demographic landscapes were shaped by the displacement and assimilation of the native population, the forced migration of African slaves, and settlement from the Canary Islands and Andalusia. In the Spanish Empire, Puerto Rico played a secondary but strategic role compared to wealthier colonies like Peru and New Spain. Spain's distant administrative control continued up to the end of the 19th century, producing a distinctive creole Hispanic culture and language that combined indigenous, African, and European elements. On September 23, 1868, Ramón Emeterio Betances unleashed a revolt against Spanish rule, declaring for the first time the idea of Puerto Ricans as a distinct people, with right to sovereignty. This revolt, known as El Grito de Lares, was eventually put down by Spanish forces, but the movement continued. In 1898, following the Spanish-American War, the United States acquired Puerto Rico under the terms of the Treaty of Paris. Since then, Puerto Rico has remained an unincorporated territorial possession, making it the world's oldest colony.

Puerto Ricans have been citizens of the United States since 1917, and can move freely between the island and the mainland. As it is not a state, Puerto Rico does not have a vote in the United States Congress, which governs the territory with full jurisdiction under the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act of 1950. However, Puerto Rico does have one non-voting member of the House called a Resident Commissioner. As residents of a U.S. territory, American citizens in Puerto Rico are disenfranchised at the national level and do not vote for the president or vice president of the United States, and only some residents pay federal income tax. Like other territories and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico does not have U.S. senators. Congress approved a local constitution in 1952, allowing U.S. citizens of the territory to elect a governor. Puerto Rico's future political status has consistently been a matter of significant debate.

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Lolita Lebrón (November 19, 1919 - August 1, 2010) was a Puerto Rican nationalist who was convicted of attempted murder and other crimes after leading an assault on the United States House of Representatives in 1954, resulting in the wounding of five members of the United States Congress. She was freed from prison in 1979 after being granted clemency by President Jimmy Carter.

Lebrón was born and raised in Lares, Puerto Rico, where she joined the Liberal Party. In her youth she met Francisco Matos Paoli, a Puerto Rican poet, with whom she had a relationship. In 1941, Lebrón migrated to New York City, where she joined the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, gaining influence within the party's leadership. Within the organization she advocated socialist and feminist ideas. Read more...

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La Fortaleza.jpg
Photo credit: MSchnitzler2000

La Fortaleza, seen at top overlooking San Juan Bay, is the current residence of the Governor of Puerto Rico and the oldest executive mansion in the New World. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, 450 years after it was built.

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Abandoned Central Mercedita sugar refinery office building. Note the Snow White Sugar plaque on the left of the building facade.

Hacienda Mercedita was a 300-acre (120 ha) sugarcane plantation in Ponce, Puerto Rico, founded in 1861, by Juan Serrallés Colón. Today Hacienda Mercedita no longer grows sugarcane and its lands are instead used for growing mangoes, grasses, landscape plants and palms, coconut palms, bananas, and seeds.

The Hacienda was the administrative center of the large sugarcane mill called Central Mercedita as well as that of its cane sugar refinery plant which packaged the Snow White brand sugar at its nearby packaging plant. Hacienda Mercedita was also the site of origin of a rum production in 1865 that became the successful Destilería Serrallés rum distillery producing Don Q and other spirits. After operating continuously since 1949, Central Mercedita closed down in December 1994, and its sugar mill site is abandoned and in ruins. The Serrallés rum distillery, however, is an expanding and successful company still operating from the same original location, in barrio Vayas, southeast of the intersection of routes PR-10 and PR-52. Central Mercedita, where the local sugar cane was processed, is now owned by Puerto Rico's Autoridad de Tierras (English: Land Authority). Though Hacienda Mercedita was located in a different barrio, Sabanetas, its location was next to the rum distillery, the two being separated only by La Esperanza street (PR-5506). Read more...

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José Ramon Fernández
"Marqués de La Esperanza"

José Ramon Fernández, 1st Marquis of La Esperanza (1808-1883), was the wealthiest sugar baron in Puerto Rico in the 19th century. He was also one of the most powerful men of the entire Spanish Caribbean. He owned an immense plantation of nearly 2300 acres on the northern coast of Puerto Rico, and a sugar mill with an advanced steam engine. His wealth and political connections gave him the power to convince the Spanish Colonial government in the island to split the municipality of Manati in two, and thus found the municipality of Barceloneta.

The Hacienda La Esperanza steam engine has been designated a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. Today the entire property is owned by the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust, which preserves and protects it, including some of the only coastal forest left in the region. Read more...

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Iglesia Santísima Trinidad of Ponce
Painting of Juan Alejo de Arizmendi by José Campeche

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  1. ^ La presencia Germanica en Puerto Rico
  2. ^ Diocese of Olympia'
  3. ^ The Virtual Jewish History Tour Puerto Rico
  4. ^ The Misfortunes of Alonso Ramirez (1690)
  5. ^ Puerto Rico eb
  6. ^ A discussion of the flag
  7. ^ "Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodríguez Santiago (1918-1963)". Blesseds: Table of the Beatifications during the Pontificate of His Holiness John Paul II. The Holy See. Retrieved .


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