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Puerto Rico

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 South view of the Capitol, home of the Legislative Assembly in 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 Sea, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico (Spanish for "rich port") is composed of 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 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."

History

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 1493.

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.[9] They called the island "Borikén" or, in Spanish, "Borinquen".[10] Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of Saint John the Baptist. Later the island took the name of Puerto Rico while the capital was named San Juan. In 1508, Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León became the island's first governor to take office.[11]


Garita at fort San Felipe del MorroThe 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.[12] 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.[13]

The revolt was defeated by Ponce de León's men 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.[14]

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.

In 1809, in the midst of the Peninsular War, the Supreme Central Junta based in Cádiz recognized Puerto Rico as an overseas province of Spain with the right to send representatives to the recently convened Spanish parliament. The representative, Ramon Power y Giralt, died after serving a three-year term in the Cortes. These parliamentary and constitutional reforms, which were in force from 1810 to 1814 and again from 1820 to 1823, were reversed twice afterwards when the traditional monarchy was restored by Ferdinand VII. Nineteenth century reforms augmented the population and economy, and expanded the local character of the island. After the rapid gaining of independence by the South and Central American states in the first part of the century, Puerto Rico and Cuba became the only Spanish colonies found in the Americas. The Spanish Crown revived the Royal Decree of Graces of 1815. This time the decree was printed in three languages — Spanish, English and French — intending to attract Europeans of non-Spanish origin, with the hope that the independence movements would lose their popularity and strength with the arrival of new settlers. Free land was offered to those who wanted to populate the islands on the condition that they swear their loyalty to the Spanish Crown and allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church.[15]


The Original Lares Revolutionary FlagToward the end of the 19th century, poverty and political estrangement with Spain led to a small but significant uprising in 1868 known as "Grito de Lares". It began in the rural town of Lares but was subdued when rebels moved to the neighboring town of San Sebastián. Leaders of this independence movement included Ramón Emeterio Betances, considered the "father" of the Puerto Rican independence movement, and other political figures such as Segundo Ruiz Belvis. In 1897, Luis Muñoz Rivera and others persuaded the liberal Spanish government to agree to Charters of Autonomy for Cuba and Puerto Rico. In 1898, Puerto Rico's first, but short-lived, autonomous government was organized as an 'overseas province' of Spain. The charter maintained a governor appointed by Spain, which held the power to annul any legislative decision, and a partially elected parliamentary structure. In February, Governor-General Manuel Macías inaugurated the new government under the Autonomous Charter. General elections were held in March and the autonomous government began to function on July 17, 1898.[16][17][18]

United States colony
On July 25, 1898, during the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States with a landing at Guánica. As an outcome of the war, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, along with Cuba, the Philippines, and Guam to the U.S. under the Treaty of Paris.[19]

The United States and Puerto Rico thus began a long-standing relationship. Puerto Rico began the 20th century under the military rule of the U.S. with officials, including the governor, appointed by the President of the United States. The Foraker Act of 1900 gave Puerto Rico a certain amount of civilian popular government, including a popularly elected House of Representatives, also a judicial system following the American legal system that includes both state courts and federal courts establishing a Puerto Rico Supreme Court and an United State District Court; and a non-voting member of Congress, by the title of "Resident Commissioner. In 1917, "Puerto Ricans were collectively made U.S. citizens"[20] via the Jones Act. The same Act also provided for a popularly elected Senate to complete a bicameral Legislative Assembly, a bill of rights and authorized the election of a Resident Commissioner to a four year term. As a result of their new U.S. citizenship, many Puerto Ricans were drafted into World War I and all subsequent wars with U.S. participation in which a national military draft was in effect.

Natural disasters, including a major earthquake, a tsunami and several hurricanes, and the Great Depression impoverished the island during the first few decades under U.S. rule.[21] Some political leaders, like Pedro Albizu Campos who led the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, demanded change. On March 21, 1937, a march was organized in the southern city of Ponce by the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party which turned into a bloody event when the Insular Police[22] ("a force somewhat resembling the National Guard of the typical U.S. state" and which answered to the U.S.-appointed governor Blanton Winship)[23] opened fire upon, what a U.S. Congressman and others reported were, unarmed[24] and defenseless[25] cadets and bystanders alike,[26][27] killing 19 and badly wounding over 200 more,[28] many in their backs while running away.[29][30] An ACLU report declared it a massacre[31] and it has since been known as the Ponce massacre.

The internal governance changed during the latter years of the Roosevelt–Truman administrations, as a form of compromise led by Luis Muñoz Marín and others. It culminated with the appointment by President Truman in 1946 of the first Puerto Rican-born governor, Jesús T. Piñero. On June 11, 1948, Piñero, signed the "Ley de la Mordaza" (Gag Law) or Law 53 as it was officially known, passed by the Puerto Rican legislature which made it illegal to display the Puerto Rican Flag, sing patriotic songs, talk of independence and to fight for the liberation of the island. It resembled the anti-communist Smith Law passed in the United States.[32]

Commonwealth
In 1947, the U.S. granted Puerto Ricans the right to elect democratically their own governor. Luis Muñoz Marín was elected during the 1948 general elections, becoming the first popularly elected governor of Puerto Rico. In 1950, the U.S. Congress approved Public Law 600 (P.L. 81-600) which allowed for a democratic referendum in Puerto Rico to determine whether Puerto Ricans desired to draft their own local constitution.[33] This Act left unchanged all the articles under the Jones Act of 1917 that regulated the relationships between Puerto Rico and the United States.[34]

On October 30, 1950, Pedro Albizu Campos and other nationalists led a 3-day revolt against the United States in various cities and towns of Puerto Rico. The most notable occurred in Jayuya and Utuado. In the Jayuya revolt, known as the Jayuya Uprising, the United States declared martial law and attacked Jayuya with infantry, artillery and bombers. The Utuado Uprising culminated in what is known as the Utuado massacre. On November 1, 1950, Puerto Rican nationalists Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo attempted to assassinate President Harry S Truman. Torresola was killed during the attack, but Collazo was captured. Collazo served 29 years in a federal prison, being released in 1979. Don Pedro Albizu Campos also served many years in a federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia, for seditious conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government in Puerto Rico.[35]

The Constitution of Puerto Rico was approved by a Constitutional Convention on February 6, 1952, ratified by the U.S. Congress, approved by President Truman on July 3 of that year, and proclaimed by Gov. Muñoz Marín on July 25, 1952, on the anniversary of the arrival of U.S. troops to Puerto Rico in 1898, until then an annual Puerto Rico holiday. Puerto Rico adopted the name of Estado Libre Asociado (literally translated as "Free Associated State"), officially translated into English as Commonwealth, for its body politic.[36][37] The United States Congress legislates over many fundamental aspects of Puerto Rican life, including citizenship, currency, postal service, foreign affairs, military defense, communications, labor relations, the environment, commerce, finance, health and welfare, and many others.[38][39]

During the 1950s Puerto Rico experienced rapid industrialization, due in large part to Operación Manos a la Obra ("Operation Bootstrap"), an offshoot of FDR's New Deal, which aimed to transform Puerto Rico's economy from agriculture-based to manufacturing-based. Presently, Puerto Rico has become a major tourist destination and it is the world's leading pharmaceutical manufacturing center.[40] Yet it still struggles to define its political status. Three plebiscites have been held in recent decades to resolve the political status but no changes have been attained. Support for the pro-statehood party, Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP), and the pro-commonwealth party, Partido Popular Democrático (PPD), remains about equal. The only registered pro-independence party, the Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño (PIP), usually receives 3-5% of the electoral votes.[citation needed]

On October 25, 2006, the Puerto Rico State Department conferred Puerto Rican citizenship to Juan Mari Brás.[41] The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico and the Puerto Rican Secretary of Justice determined that Puerto Rican citizenship exists and was recognized in the Constitution of Puerto Rico. Since the summer of 2007, the Puerto Rico State Department has developed the protocol to provide certificates of Puerto Rican citizenship to Puerto Ricans.[42][43] Any U.S. citizen with at least one year of residence on the island is also eligible for the official citizenship certificate.

The certificate is not a valid travel document. This is reaffirm in the case of Colon v. U.S. Department of State, 2 F.Supp.2d 43 (1998), Plaintiff claims to reject his United States citizenship, he nevertheless wants to remain a resident of Puerto Rico. The U.S. Department of State position asserts that renunciation of U.S. citizenship must entail renunciation of Puerto Rican citizenship as well while plaintiff claims a fundamental distinction between United States and Puerto Rican citizenship. The Court reject Colon’s petition for a writ of mandamus directing the Secretary of State to approve a Certificate of Loss of Nationality in the case because the plaintiff wanted to retain the U.S. citizenship benefit of travel freely and return and reside in the United States while claiming he was not a U.S. citizen. The United States District Court based this decision on the Immigration and Nationality Act section 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(38), that provide the term “United States” definition and evince that Puerto Rico is a part of the United States for such purposes.[44][45][46] See also: State citizenship

Government and politics
Main articles: Government of Puerto Rico and Politics of Puerto Rico
See also: Municipalities of Puerto Rico, List of political parties in Puerto Rico, and Political party strength in Puerto Rico
 
South view of the Capitol, home of the Legislative Assembly in Puerto RicoPuerto Rico has a republican form of government,[47] subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sovereignty.[3] Its current powers are all delegated by the United States Congress and lack full protection under the United States Constitution[48]. Puerto Rico's head of state is the President of the United States.

The government of Puerto Rico, based on the formal republican system, is composed of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. The executive branch is headed by the Governor, currently Luis Fortuño. The legislative branch consists of a bicameral Legislative Assembly made up of a Senate upper chamber and a House of Representatives lower chamber. The Senate is headed by the President of the Senate, while the House of Representatives is headed by the Speaker of the House.

The judicial branch is headed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico. The legal system is a mix of the civil law and the common law systems. The governor and legislators are elected by popular vote every four years. Members of the Judicial branch are appointed by the governor with the "advice and consent" of the Senate.

Puerto Rico is represented in the United States Congress by a nonvoting delegate, formally called a Resident Commissioner (currently Pedro Pierluisi). Current legislation has returned the Commissioner's power to vote in the Committee of the Whole, but not on matters where the vote would represent a decisive participation.[49] Puerto Rican elections are governed by the Federal Election Commission and the State Elections Commission of Puerto Rico.[50][51] While residing in Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections, but they can vote in primaries. Puerto Ricans who become residents of a U.S. state can vote in presidential elections.

As Puerto Rico is not an independent country, it hosts no embassies. It is host, however, to consulates from 41 countries, mainly from the Americas and Europe.[52] Most consulates are located in San Juan. As an unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico does not have any first-order administrative divisions as defined by the U.S. government, but has 78 municipalities at the second level. Mona Island is not a municipality, but part of the municipality of Mayagüez.[53]

Municipalities are subdivided into wards or barrios, and those into sectors. Each municipality has a mayor and a municipal legislature elected for a four year term. The municipality of San Juan (previously called "town"), was founded first, in 1521, San Germán in 1570, Coamo in 1579, Arecibo in 1614, Aguada in 1692 and Ponce in 1692. An increase of settlement saw the founding of 30 municipalities in the 18th century and 34 in the 19th. Six were founded in the 20th century; the last was Florida in 1971.[54]

From 1952 to 2007, Puerto Rico had three political parties which stood for three distinct future political scenarios. The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) seeks to maintain the island's "association" status as a commonwealth, improved commonwealth and/or seek a true free sovereign-association status or Free Associated Republic, and has won a plurality vote in referendums on the island's status held over six decades after the island was invaded by the U.S. The New Progressive Party (PNP) seeks statehood. The Puerto Rican Independence Party seeks independence. In 2007, a fourth party, the Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico Party (PPR), was ratified. The PPR claims that it seeks to address the islands' problems from a status-neutral platform. Non-registered parties include the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, the Socialist Workers Movement, the Hostosian National Independence Movement, and others.

Political status
Main article: Political status of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is an "unincorporated territory" of the United States which according to the U.S. Supreme Court's Insular Cases is "a territory appurtenant and belonging to the United States, but not a part of the United States."[55] Puerto Rico is subject to the Congress’ plenary powers under the territorial clause of Article IV, sec. 3, of the U.S. Constitution.[56] U.S. federal law applies to Puerto Rico, even though Puerto Rico is not a state of the American Union and has no voting representative in the U.S. Congress. Because of the establishment of the Federal Relations Act of 1950, all federal laws that are "not locally inapplicable" are automatically the law of the land in Puerto Rico.[57][58] In 1907, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Grafton v. United States[59], Justice Harlan clarified the meaning of plenary powers: "'The government of a state derives its powers from the people of the state, whereas the government of a territory owes its existence wholly to the United States'...The Court thus seems to equate plenary power to exclusive power. The U.S. government could exert over the territory power that it could not exercise over the state...This power, however, is not absolute, for it is restrained by some then-undefined fundamental rights possessed by anyone subject to the authority of the U.S. government." [60]

Since 1917, people born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens. However, federal electoral law does not grant a vote to any citizen who does not live in, or qualify as an absentee resident in, one of the fifty states or the District of Columbia. Thus, people who have always lived in Puerto Rico cannot vote in federal elections, but people born in Puerto Rico and living in a state or in DC can vote. See also: Voting rights in Puerto Rico

Estado Libre Asociado
In 1950, the U.S. Congress granted Puerto Ricans the right to organize a constitutional convention via a referendum that gave them the option of voting their preference, "yes" or "no", on a proposed U.S. law that would organize Puerto Rico as a "commonwealth" that would suppose continued United States sovereignty over Puerto Rico and its people. Puerto Rico's electorate expressed its support for this measure in 1951 with a second referendum to ratify the constitution. The Constitution of Puerto Rico was formally adopted on July 3, 1952. The Constitutional Convention specified the name by which the body politic would be known. The purpose of Congress in the 1950 and 1952 legislation was to accord to Puerto Rico the degree of autonomy and independence normally associated with a State of the Union.[61]

On February 4, 1952, the convention approved Resolution 22 which chose in English the word "Commonwealth", meaning a "politically organized community" or "state", which is simultaneously connected by a compact or treaty to another political system. The convention adopted a translation into Spanish of the term, inspired by the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) of "Estado Libre Asociado" (ELA) to represent the agreement. Literally translated into English the phrase Estado Libre Asociado means "Associated Free State."

While the approval of the commonwealth constitution marked a historic change in the civil government for the islands, neither it, nor the public laws approved by Congress in 1950 and 1952, revoked statutory provisions concerning the legal relationship of Puerto Rico to the United States. This relationship is based on the Territorial Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The statutory provisions that set forth the conditions of the relationship are commonly referred to as the Federal Relations Act (FRA). While specified subsections of the FRA were "adopted in the nature of a compact", other provisions, by comparison, are excluded from the compact reference. Matters still subject to congressional authority and established pursuant to legislation include the citizenship status of residents, tax provisions, civil rights, trade and commerce, public finance, the administration of public lands controlled by the federal government, the application of federal law over navigable waters, congressional representation, and the judicial process, among others.[62][63]

In 1967, the Puerto Rico's Legislative Assembly polled the political preferences of the Puerto Rican electorate by passing a plebiscite Act that provided for a vote on the status of Puerto Rico. This constituted the first plebiscite by the Legislature for a choice on three status options (commonwealth, statehood, and independence). Claiming "foul play" and dubbing the process as illegitimate and contrary to International Law norms regarding decolonization procedures, the plebiscite was boycotted by the major pro-statehood and pro-independence parties of the time, the [Republican Party of Puerto Rico] and the Puerto Rican Independence Party, respectively. The Commonwealth option, represented by the PDP, won with a majority of 60.4% of the votes. After the plebiscite, efforts in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, to enact legislation to address the status issue died in U.S. Congressional committees. In subsequent plebiscites organized by Puerto Rico held in 1993 and 1998 (without any formal commitment on the part of the U.S. Government to honor the results), the current political status failed to receive majority support (receiving 48.6% in 1993 and less than one percent, 0.3%, in 1998), when the "none of the above option" received the 50.3 % of the votes which was the Popular Democratic Party sponsored choice and was the winner option. Disputes arose as to the definition of each of the ballot alternatives; and Commonwealth advocates, among others, reportedly urged a vote for “none of the above".[64][65][66]

International status
On November 27, 1953, shortly after the establishment of the Commonwealth, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved Resolution 748, removing Puerto Rico's classification as a non-self-governing territory under article 73(e) of the Charter from UN. But the General Assembly did not apply its full list of criteria to Puerto Rico to determine if it has achieved self-governing status. According to the White House Task Force on Puerto Rico's Political Status in its December 21, 2007 report, the U.S., in its written submission to the UN in 1953, never represented that Congress could not change its relationship with Puerto Rico without the territory's consent.[67] It stated that the U.S. Justice Department in 1959 reiterated that Congress held power over Puerto Rico pursuant to the Territorial Clause[68] of the U.S. Constitution.[67]

In 1993, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit stated that Congress may unilaterally repeal the Puerto Rican Constitution or the Puerto Rican Federal Relations Act and replace them with any rules or regulations of its choice.[69] In a 1996 report on a Puerto Rico status political bill, the "U.S. House Committee on Resources stated that PR's current status does not meet the criteria for any of the options for full self-government". It concluded that PR is still an unincorporated territory of the U.S. under the territorial clause, that the establishment of local self-government with the consent of the people can be unilaterally revoked by the U.S. Congress, and that U.S. Congress can also withdraw the U.S. citizenship of PR residents of PR at any time, for a legitimate Federal purpose.[70] The application of the U.S. Constitution to Puerto Rico is limited by the Insular Cases.

Within the United States
Under the Constitution of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico is described as a Commonwealth and Puerto Ricans have a degree of administrative autonomy similar to citizens of a U.S. state. Puerto Ricans "were collectively made U.S. citizens" in 1917 as a result of the Jones-Shafroth Act[71]. The act was signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on 2 March 1917. U.S. Federal law 8 U.S.C. § 1402, approved by President Harry S. Truman on 27 June 1952, declared all persons born in Puerto Rico on or after 13 January 1941 to be U.S. citizens at birth and all persons born in Puerto Rico between 11 April 1899 and 12 January 1941, and meeting certain other technical requirements, and not citizens of the United States under any other Act, are declared to be citizens of the U.S. as of 13 January 1941.[72]

In addition, an April 2000 report by the Congressional Research Service, asserts that citizens born in Puerto Rico are legally defined as natural born citizens and are therefore eligible to be elected President, provided they meet qualifications of age and 14 years residence within the United States. According to this report, residence in Puerto Rico and U.S. territories and possessions does not qualify as residence within the United States for these purposes.[73]

Since Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory (see above) and not a U.S. state, the United States Constitution does not fully enfranchise US citizens residing in Puerto Rico.[72][74]

Only the "fundamental rights" under the federal constitution apply to Puerto Rico, including the Privileges and Immunities Clause (U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 1, also known as the 'Comity Clause') that prevents a state from treating citizens of other states in a discriminatory manner, with regard to basic civil rights. The clause also embraces a right to travel, so that a citizen of one state can have privileges and immunities in any other state; this constitutional clause regarding the rights, privileges, and immunities of citizens of the United States was expressly extended to Puerto Rico by the U.S. Congress through the federal law 48 U.S.C. § 737 and signed by President Truman in 1947.[74][75][76]

Other fundamental rights such as the due process clause and the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment were expressly extended to Puerto Rico by the U.S. Supreme court.[77][78] In a brief concurrence in the judgment of Torres v. Puerto Rico, 442 U.S. 465 (1979), Supreme Court Justice Brennan argued that any implicit limits from the Insular Cases on the basic rights granted by the Constitution (including especially the Bill of Rights) were anachronistic in the 1970s.[76][79][80]

Article Three of the United States Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government. This article was expressly extended to the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico by the U.S. Congress through Federal Law 89-571, 80 Stat. 764, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. After that date, judges appointed to the Puerto Rico federal district court have been Article III judges appointed under the Constitution of the United States. In addition in 1984 one of the judges of the federal district court, Chief Judge Juan R. Torruella, a native of the island, was appointed to serve in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit with jurisdiction over Puerto Rico, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire.[81]

Federal executive branch agencies have significant presence in Puerto Rico, just as in any state, such as the U.S. Attorney, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security, National Labor Relations Board, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Transportation Safety Authority, Environmental Protection Agency, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Internal Revenue Service, and Social Security Administration. The island’s economic, commercial, and banking systems are integrated to those of the United States.[82]

President George H. W. Bush issued a 30 November 1992 memorandum to heads of executive departments and agencies establishing the current administrative relationship between the federal government and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. This memorandum directs all federal departments, agencies, and officials to treat Puerto Rico administratively as if it were a state, insofar as doing so would not disrupt federal programs or operations.

Puerto Rico does participate in the internal political process of both the Democratic and Republican parties in the U.S., accorded equal-proportional representation in both parties, and delegates from the islands vote in each party's national convention.

The U.S. Government classifies Puerto Rico as an independent taxation authority by Federal Law 48 U.S.C. § 734. Puerto Rico residents are required to pay U.S. federal taxes, import/export taxes,[83] federal commodity taxes,[84] social security taxes etc. The only exemption is federal income taxes since residents pay federal payroll taxes (Social Security[85] and Medicare),[86] as well as Commonwealth of Puerto Rico income taxes. All federal employees,[87] plus those who do business with the federal government,[88] in addition to Puerto Rico-based corporations that intend to send funds to the U.S.,[89] and some others[90] also pay federal income taxes.

Because the cutoff point for income taxation is lower than that of the U.S. IRS code, and because the per-capita income in Puerto Rico is much lower than the average per-capita income on the mainland, more Puerto Rico residents pay income taxes to the local taxation authority than if the IRS code were applied to the island[citation needed]. Because residents of Puerto Rico pay into Social Security, they are eligible for Social Security benefits upon retirement, but are excluded from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and the island actually receives less than 15% of the Medicaid funding it would normally receive if it were a U.S. state.[91] Yet Medicare providers receive less-than-full state-like reimbursements for services rendered to beneficiaries in Puerto Rico, even though the latter paid fully into the system.[92]

Since 1961 several Puerto Ricans have been appointed by the President, upon the advice and consent of the Senate to serve as United States Ambassadors to Venezuela, Spain, Costa Rica, Chile, the Dominican Republic, and the Republics of Mauritius and Seychelles. A Puerto Rican was also appointed by President Obama as ambassador to El Salvador, pending the advice and consent of the United States Senate. This evinces the extreme trust the President and Congress have placed upon these individuals, who serve the vital function of acting as the representative of the United States in foreign nations. As embassies fall within the Department of State, ambassadors answer to the Secretary of State.[81]


First Company of native Puerto Ricans enlisted in the American Colonial Army, 1899.Puerto Ricans may enlist in the U.S. military. Since 1917 Puerto Ricans have been included in the compulsory draft whenever it has been in effect and more than 400,000 Puerto Ricans have served in the United States Armed Forces. Puerto Ricans have participated in all U.S. wars since 1898, most notably World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as the current Middle Eastern conflicts. Several Puerto Ricans became notable commanders, five have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration in the United States, and several Puerto Ricans have attained the rank of General or Admiral, which requires a Presidential nomination and Senate confirmation, as is the case of judges and ambassadors.[93] In World War II,[94] the Korean War[95] and the Vietnam War[96] Puerto Ricans were the most decorated Hispanic soldiers and in some cases were the first to die in combat.[97][98]

Recent developments
The nature of Puerto Rico's political relationship with the U.S. is the subject of ongoing debate in Puerto Rico, the United States Congress, and the United Nations.[99][100] In 2005 and 2007, two reports were issued by the U.S. President's Task Force on Puerto Rico's Status.[67][101] Both reports conclude that Puerto Rico continues to be a territory of U.S. under the plenary powers of the U.S. Congress.[67] Reactions from Puerto Rico's two major political parties were mixed. The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) challenged[citation needed] the task force's report and committed to validating the current status in all international forums, including the United Nations. It also rejects[citation needed] any "colonial or territorial status" as a status option, and vows to keep working for the enhanced Commonwealth status that was approved by the PPD in 1998 which included sovereignty, an association based on "respect and dignity between both nations", and common citizenship.[102] The New Progressive Party (PNP) supported[citation needed] the White House Report's conclusions and supported bills to provide for a democratic referendum process among Puerto Rico voters.

In 2008, Puerto Rican voters elected Pedro Pierluisi, who was elected to succeed the governor-elect Luis G. Fortuño in representing Puerto Rico in the United States House of Representatives as Resident Commissioner. As a member of the 111th Congress, Pierluisi introduced the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2009 (H.R. 2499), which proposes a two-stage plebiscite to be held in Puerto Rico to reconsider its political status. In the first stage of the plebiscite voters would be asked to choose between two options (1) continuing “its present form of political status;” or (2) “a different political status.” If a majority of voters chose “a different political status” in the first plebiscite, H.R. 2499 proposes a second plebiscite in which voters would be asked to choose from one of three options in a second plebiscite: (1) independence; (2) “sovereignty in association with the United States,” and (3) statehood. The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on H.R. 2499 on June 24, 2009, and held a markup on July 22, 2009. At the markup, an amended version of the bill was ordered to be reported favorably (by a vote of 30-8). The amended version of the bill would retain the provisions of the original bill and add two additional components—one requiring Puerto Rico to cover all expenses associated with the plebiscites, and another requiring that plebiscite ballots to be made available in English and Spanish.[103]

According to a CRS report, the recent activity regarding Puerto Rico’s political status—in Congress and on the island—suggests that action may be taken in the 111th Congress. The reports issued in 2007 and 2005 by the President’s Task Force on Puerto Rico’s Status may be the basis for reconsideration of the existing commonwealth status, as legislative developments during the 109th and 110th Congresses suggested. Agreement on the process to be used in considering the status proposals has been as elusive as agreement on the end result. Congress would have a determinative role in any resolution of the issue. The four options that appear to be most frequently discussed include continuation of the commonwealth, modification of the current commonwealth agreement, statehood, or independence. If independence, or separate national sovereignty, were selected, Puerto Rican officials might seek to negotiate a compact of free association with the United States.[104]

On June 15, 2009, the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonization approved a draft resolution calling on the Government of the United States to expedite a process that would allow the Puerto Rican people to exercise fully their inalienable right to self-determination and independence.[105]

Geography
Main article: Geography of Puerto Rico
See also: Geology of Puerto Rico and Fauna of Puerto Rico
Puerto 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.


Map of Puerto RicoThe Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has an area of 13,790 square kilometers (5,320 sq mi), of which 8,870 km2 (3,420 sq mi) is land and 4,921 km2 (1,900 sq mi) is water.[106] The maximum length of the main island from east to west is 180 km (110 mi), and the maximum width from north to south is 65 km (40 mi).[107] Puerto Rico is the smallest of the Greater Antilles. It is 80% of the size of Jamaica,[108] just over 18% of the size of Hispaniola and 8% of the size of Cuba, the largest of the Greater Antilles.[109]

Puerto Rico 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 1,339 meters (4,393 ft),[106] 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 1,065 m (3,494 ft).[110]

Puerto Rico has 17 lakes, all man-made, and more than 50 rivers, most originating in the Cordillera Central.[111] 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.[112] 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.[113] It originated off the coast of Aguadilla and was accompanied by a tsunami.


Corcho Beach in ViequesThe Puerto Rico Trench, the largest and deepest trench in the Atlantic, is located about 115 km (71 mi) north of Puerto Rico at the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates.[114] It is 280 km (170 mi) long.[115] At its deepest point, named the Milwaukee Deep, it is almost 8,400 m (27,600 ft) deep, or about 5.2 miles.[114]

Located in the tropics, Puerto Rico has an average temperature of 82.4 °F (28 °C) throughout the year. Temperatures do not change drastically throughout the seasons. The temperature in the south is usually a few degrees higher than the north and temperatures in the central interior mountains are always cooler than the rest of the island. The Hurricane season spans from June to November. The all-time low in Puerto Rico has been 39 °F (4 °C), registered in Aibonito.[116]

Species endemic to the archipelago are 239 plants, 16 birds and 39 amphibians/reptiles, recognized as of 1998. Most of these (234, 12 and 33 respectively) are found on the main island.[117] The most recognizable endemic species and a symbol of Puerto Rican pride is the Coquí, a small frog easily identified by the sound of its call, and from which it gets its name. Most Coquí species (13 of 17) live in the El Yunque National Forest, a tropical rainforest in the northeast of the island previously known as the Caribbean National Forest. El Yunque is home to more than 240 plants, 26 of which are endemic to the island. It is also home to 50 bird species, including the critically endangered Puerto Rican Amazon. Across the island in the southwest, the 40 km2 (15 sq mi) of dry land at the Guánica Commonwealth Forest Reserve[118] contain over 600 uncommon species of plants and animals, including 48 endangered species and 16 endemic to Puerto Rico.

Administrative divisions
Main article: Municipalities of Puerto Rico
 
Puerto Rico's municipalitiesAs an unincorporated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico does not have any first order administrative divisions as defined by the U.S. Government, but there are 78 municipalities at the secondary level which function as counties. Municipalities are further subdivided into barrios, and those into sectors. Each municipality has a mayor and a municipal legislature elected for four year terms.

The first municipality (previously called "town") of Puerto Rico, San Juan, was founded in 1521. In the 16th century two more municipalities were established, Coamo (1570) and San Germán (1570). Three more municipalities were established in the 17th century. These were Arecibo (1614), Aguada (1692) and Ponce (1692). The 18th and 19th century saw an increase in settlement in Puerto Rico with 30 municipalities being established in the 18th century and 34 more in the 19th century. Only six municipalities were founded in the 20th century with the last, Florida, being founded in 1971.[119]

Economy
Main article: Economy of Puerto Rico
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.[120][121]

Economic conditions have improved dramatically since the Great Depression because of 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.


Milla de Oro is a major financial centre in Puerto Rico.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.[122] 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.[123]

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.[124] 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%.[125]

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.[126] By comparison, the poorest state of the Union, Mississippi, had median household income of $36,338 in 2007.[126] Puerto Rico's public debt has grown at a faster pace than the growth of its economy, reaching $46.7 billion in 2008.[127] In January 2009, Luis Fortuño enacted several measures aimed at eliminating the government's $3.3 billion deficit,[128] including laying off nearly 24,000 government employees. Puerto Rico's unemployment rate exceeded 15 percent in August, according to the U.S.[129] Bureau of Labor Statistics. Some analysts said they expect the government's layoffs to propel that rate to 17 percent.[130]

Demographics
Main article: Demographics of Puerto Rico
Population and racial makeup
 
Royal Decree of Graces, 1815.During the 1800s hundreds of Corsican, French, Lebanese, Chinese, and Portuguese families arrived in Puerto Rico, along with large numbers of immigrants from Spain (mainly from Catalonia, Asturias, Galicia, the Balearic Islands, Andalusia, and the Canary Islands) and numerous Spanish loyalists from Spain's former colonies in South America. Other settlers included Irish, Scots, Germans, Italians and thousands others who were granted land by Spain during the Real Cedula de Gracias de 1815 ("Royal Decree of Graces of 1815"), which allowed European Catholics to settle in the island with a certain amount of free land.

This mass immigration during the 19th century helped the population grow from 155,000 in 1800 to almost a million at the close of the century. A census conducted by royal decree on September 30, 1858, gives the following totals of the Puerto Rican population at this time: 300,430 identified as Whites; 341,015 as Free colored; and 41,736 as Slaves.[131]

During the early 20th century Jews began to settle in Puerto Rico. The first large group of Jews to settle in Puerto Rico were European refugees fleeing German–occupied Europe in the 1930s. In 1952, some Jewish families from the United States settled in Puerto Rico and founded the first synagogue. In 1959, there was an influx of Jewish emigres from Cuba, following the Cuban Revolution.[132]

Demographic distribution
Racial distribution[show]Race - Puerto Rico - 2000 Census[133]
Race Population  % of Total
White 3,064,862 80.5%
Black/African American 302,933 8.0%
American Indian and Alaska Native 13,336 0.4%
Asian 7,960 0.2%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 1,093 0.0%
Some other race 260,011 6.8%
Two or more races 158,415 4.2%
Historical populations
Year Pop.  %±
1765 44,883 —
1775 70,250 56.5%
1800 155,426 121.2%
1815 220,892 42.1%
1832 350,051 58.5%
1846 447,914 28.0%
1860 583,308 30.2%
1877 731,648 25.4%
1887 798,565 9.1%
1899 953,243 19.4%
1910 1,118,012 17.3%
1920 1,299,809 16.3%
1930 1,543,913 18.8%
1940 1,869,255 21.1%
1950 2,210,703 18.3%
1960 2,349,544 6.3%
1970 2,712,033 15.4%
1980 3,196,520 17.9%
1990 3,522,037 10.2%
2000 3,808,610 8.1%
The Spanish Government took the censuses from 1765 to 1887. [134]
The United States War Department took the census in 1899.
 


Population density, Census 2000Recently, Puerto Rico has become the permanent home of over 100,000 legal residents who immigrated from not only Spain, but from Latin America: Argentines, Cubans, Dominicans, Colombians and Venezuelans. Emigration has been a major part of Puerto Rico's recent history. Starting soon after World War II, poverty, cheap airfare and promotion by the island government caused waves of Puerto Ricans to move to the United States, particularly to New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Florida. This trend continued even as Puerto Rico's economy improved and its birth rate declined.

According to a census held in 2000, there were almost four million inhabitants. Eighty percent of Puerto Ricans described themselves as "white"; 8% as "black"; 12% as "mulatto" and 0.4% as "American Indian or Alaska Native".[135]

Language
Main article: Puerto Rican Spanish
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.[136] 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. According to a study by the University of Puerto Rico, nine of every 10 Puerto Ricans residing in Puerto Rico do not speak English at the advanced level [137] and according to a brief report of the U.S. Census 2000, seven of every 10 Puerto Ricans residing in Puerto Rico does not speak English at the advanced level.[138]

Religion
The Roman Catholic Church has historically been the dominant religion in Puerto Rico. The first dioceses in the Americas was erected in Puerto Rico in 1511.[139] All municipalities in Puerto Rico have at least one Catholic church (building), most of which are located at the town center or "plaza". Protestantism which was suppressed under the Spanish regime has been encouraged under American rule making modern Puerto Rico interconfessional. Taíno religious practices have been rediscovered/reinvented to a degree by a handful of advocates. Various African religious practices have been present since the arrival of African slaves. In particular, the Yoruba beliefs of Santeria and/or Ifá, and the Kongo-derived Palo Mayombe find adherence among a few individuals who practice some form of African traditional religion. In 2007, Islam had over 5,000 Muslims in Puerto Rico, representing about 0.10% of the population[140][141]

There were eight Islamic mosques spread throughout the island, with most Muslims living in Rio Piedras[142][143]. Puerto Rico is also home to the largest and richest Jewish community in the Caribbean with 3,000 Jewish inhabitants. Puerto Rico is the only Caribbean island in which the Conservative, Reform and Orthodox Jewish movements are represented.[132][144]

Culture
Main article: Culture of Puerto Rico
See also: Cuisine of Puerto Rico and Music of Puerto Rico
 
Kapok tree (Ceiba), the national tree of Puerto RicoPuerto 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 the adoption of some holidays and practices. On March 12, 1903, University of Puerto Rico was officially founded, branching out from the "Escuela Normal Industrial", a smaller organism that was founded in Fajardo three years before.

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 local and traditional rhythms. 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.[145][146]

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 small frog genus. Other popular symbols of Puerto Rico are the "jíbaro", the "countryman", and the carite.

Sports
Main article: Sports in Puerto Rico
Baseball was one of the first sports to gain widespread popularity in Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Baseball League serves as the only active professional league, operating as a winter league. No Major League Baseball franchise or affiliate plays in Puerto Rico, however, San Juan hosted the Montreal Expos for several series in 2003 and 2004 before they moved to Washington, D.C. and became the Washington Nationals. Puerto Rico has participated in the World Cup of Baseball winning one gold (1951), four silver and four bronze medals and the Caribbean Series, winning fourteen times. Famous Puerto Rican baseball players include Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda, enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1973 and 1999, respectively.[147][148]

Boxing, basketball, and volleyball are considered popular sports as well. Wilfredo Gómez and McWilliams Arroyo have won their respective divisions at the World Amateur Boxing Championships. Other medalists include José Pedraza, who holds a silver medal, as well as three boxers that finished in third place, José Luis Vellón, Nelson Dieppa and McJoe Arroyo. In the professional circuit, Puerto Rico has the third-most boxing world champions and its the global leader in champions per capita. These include Miguel Cotto, Félix Trinidad, Wilfred Benítez and Gómez among others. The Puerto Rico national basketball team joined the International Basketball Federation in 1957. Since then, it has won more than 30 medals in international competitions, including gold in three FIBA Americas Championships and the 1994 Goodwill Games. August 8, 2004, became a landmark date for the team when it became the first team to defeat the United States in an Olympic tournament since the integration of National Basketball Association players. Winning the inaugural game with scores of 92-73 as part of the 2004 Summer Olympics organized in Athens, Greece.[149]

Miscellaneous practices of this sport have experienced some success, including the "Puerto Rico All Stars" team, which has won twelve world championships in unicycle basketball.[150] Organized Streetball has gathered some exposition, with teams like "Puerto Rico Street Ball" competing against established organizations including the Capitanes de Arecibo and AND1's Mixtape Tour Team. Consequently, practitioners of this style have earned participation in international teams, including Orlando "El Gato" Meléndez, who became the first Puerto Rican born athlete to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.[151] Orlando Antigua, whose mother is Puerto Rican, made history in 1995, when he became the first Hispanic and the first non-black in 52 years to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.[152]

The Puerto Rico Islanders Football Club, founded in 2003, plays in the United Soccer Leagues First Division, which constitutes the second tier of football in North America. Puerto Rico is also a member of FIFA and CONCACAF. In 2008 the archipelago's first unified league, the Puerto Rico Soccer League, was established. Secondary sports include Professional wrestling and road running. The World Wrestling Council and International Wrestling Association are the largest wrestling promotions in the main island. The World's Best 10K, held annually in San Juan, has been ranked among the 20 most competitive races globally.

Puerto Rico has representation in all international competitions including the Summer and Winter Olympics, the Pan American Games, the Caribbean World Series, and the Central American and Caribbean Games. Puerto Rican athletes have won 6 medals (1 silver, 5 bronze) in Olympic competition, the first one in 1948 by boxer Juan Evangelista Venegas. On March 2006 San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium hosted the opening round as well as the second round of the newly formed World Baseball Classic. The 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games will be held in Mayagüez in 2010.

Education
Main article: Education in Puerto Rico
Education in Puerto Rico is divided in three levels — Primary (elementary school grades 1-6), Secondary (intermediate and high school grades 7-12), and Higher Level (undergraduate and graduate studies). As of 2002, the literacy rate of the Puerto Rican population was 94.1%; by gender, it was 93.9% for males and 94.4% for females.[153] According to the 2000 Census, 60.0% of the population attained a high school degree or higher level of education, and 18.3% has a bachelor's degree or higher.

Instruction at the primary school level is compulsory between the ages of 5 and 18 and is enforced by the state. The Constitution of Puerto Rico grants the right to an education to every citizen on the island. To this end, public schools in Puerto Rico provide free and non-sectarian education at the elementary and secondary levels. At any of the three levels, students may attend either public or private schools. As of 1999, there were 1532 public schools[154] and 569 private schools in the island.[citation needed]

The largest and oldest university system in Puerto Rico is the public University of Puerto Rico (UPR) with 11 campuses. The largest private university systems on the island are the Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez which operates the Universidad del Turabo, Metropolitan University and Universidad del Este, the multi-campus Inter American University, the Pontifical Catholic University, and the Universidad del Sagrado Corazón. Puerto Rico has four schools of Medicine and four Law Schools.

Transportation
 
Tren Urbano at Bayamón StationMain article: Transportation in Puerto Rico
Cities and towns in Puerto Rico are interconnected by a system of roads, freeways, expressways, and highways maintained by the Highways and Transportation Authority under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and patrolled by the Police of Puerto Rico. The island's metropolitan area is served by a public bus transit system and a metro system called Tren Urbano (in English: Urban Train). Other forms of public transportation include seaborne ferries (that serve Puerto Rico's archipelago) as well as Carros Públicos (private mini buses).

The island has three international airports, the Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina, Mercedita Airport in Ponce, and the Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla, and 27 local airports. The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport is the largest aerial transportation hub in the Caribbean, and one of the largest in the world in terms of passenger and cargo movement.[155]

Puerto Rico has 9 ports in different cities across the main island. The San Juan Port is the largest in Puerto Rico, and the busiest port in the Caribbean and the 10th busiest in the United States in terms of commercial activity and cargo movement, respectively.[156] The second largest port is the Port of the Americas in Ponce currently under expansion to increase cargo capacity to 1.5 million 20 ft. containers (TEUs) per year.

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