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Puerto Rico



The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico) is a self-governing unincorporated organized territory of the United States located east of the Dominican Republic in the northeastern Caribbean.

Brief History of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico, the smallest of the Greater Antilles, includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands and keys, which include Mona, Vieques, and Culebra. Of the latter three, only Culebra and Vieques are inhabited year-round. Mona is not inhabitated year long except for employees of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources. People can visit the island for hiking and camping by getting the required permits.

When Europeans first arrived, the island of Puerto Rico was inhabited by a group of Arawak Indians known as Taínos. The Taínos called the island "Borinkén". The first European contact was made by Christopher Columbus, on his second voyage to the Antilles, on November 19, 1493. Originally named San Juan Bautista, in honor of Saint John the Baptist, the island ultimately took the name of Puerto Rico (Rich Port); while the name San Juan is now delegated to its capital and largest city. Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León became the island′s first governor of Puerto Rico to take office, while Vicente Yáñez Pinzón was the first appointed governor, though he never arrived at the island.

The island was soon colonized and became briefly an important stronghold and port for the Spanish empire in the Caribbean. However, colonial emphasis during the late 17th-18th centuries, focused on the more prosperous mainland territories, leaving the island impoverished of settlers. Concerned about threats from its European enemies, over the centuries various forts and walls were built to protect the port of San Juan. Fortresses such as La Fortaleza, El Castillo San Felipe del Morro and Fort San Cristobal would be built. The French, Dutch and English made attempts to capture Puerto Rico, but failed to wrest long-term occupancy of the island.

In 1809, while Napoleon occupied the majority of the Spanish peninsula, a populist assembly based in Cadiz recognized Puerto Rico as an overseas province of Spain with the right to send representatives to the Spanish Court. The representative Ramon Power y Giralt died soon after arriving in Spain; and constitutional reforms were reversed when autocratic monarchy was restored. Nineteenth century reforms augmented the population and economy, and expanded the local character of the island. After the rapid gains of independence by the South and Central American states in the first part of the century, Puerto Rico and Cuba became the sole New World remnants of the large Spanish empire.

Toward the end of the 19th century, poverty and political estrangement with Spain led to a small but significant uprising in 1868 known as "El Grito de Lares". The Puerto Rican goal was to achieve personal freedom, the abolition of slavery, and full self-government. The uprising was easily and quickly crushed. Leaders of this independence movement included Ramón Emeterio Betances, considered the "father" of the Puerto Rican nation, and other political figures such as Segundo Ruiz Belvis. Later another political stronghold was the autonomist movement originated by Roman Baldorioty de Castro, and towards the end of the century, by Luis Muñoz Rivera. In 1897, Muñoz Rivera and others persuaded the liberal Spanish government to agree to a Charters of Autonomy for Cuba and Puerto Rico. The following year Puerto Rico′s first, but short-lived autonomous government was organized. The charter maintained a governor appointed by Spain, with a partially elected parliamentary structure.

On July 25, 1898 at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was invaded by the United States of America with a landing at Guánica. Spain was forced to cede Puerto Rico to the United States under the Treaty of Paris (1898). The twentieth century began under the military regime of the United States with officials, including the governor, appointed by the President of the United States. In 1917, the Jones-Shafroth Act approved by the United States Congress granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship. Natural disasters and the Great Depression impoverished the island. Some political leaders demanded change, some like Pedro Albizu Campos would lead a nationalist (The Puerto Rican Nationalist Party) movement in favor of independence. Others, including Muñoz Rivera and Jose Celso Barbosa favored a closer integration into the U.S. and full-fledged statehood.

Change in the nature of governance of the island came about during the latter years of the Roosevelt-Truman administrations, as a form of compromise spearheaded by Luis Muñoz Marín and others, and which culminated with the appointment by President Harry S. Truman in 1946 of the first Puerto Rican-born governor, Jesús T. Piñero. In 1948, the United States granted the right to democratically elect the governor of Puerto Rico. Luis Muñoz Marín would become the first elected governor of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico adopted its own constitution in 1952 which adopted a commonwealth relationship with the United States. During the 1950s Puerto Rico experienced a rapid industrialization, with such projects as Operation Bootstrap which aimed to industrialize Puerto Rico′s economy from agriculture-based into manufacturing-based.

Present-day Puerto Rico has become a major tourist destination and a leading pharmaceutical and manufacturing center. Still, Puerto Rico continues to struggle to define its political status. A number of plebiscites have been held over the last decades to decide whether Puerto Rico should request independence, enhanced commonwealth status, or statehood. Narrow victories by commonwealth supporters over statehood advocates have not yielded substantial changes in the relationship between the island and United States.

Politics

The island government is based on the U.S. Republic system composed of 3 branches: the Executive branch headed by the Governor, the Legislative branch consisting of a bicameral Legislative Assembly (a Senate and a House of Representatives) and the Judicial branch. The legal system is based on a mix of the Civil Law and the Common Law Systems. The governor as well as legislators are elected by popular vote every four years. Members of the Judicial branch are appointed by the governor and approved by the senate. The island is divided into 78 municipalities, which elect a mayor and municipal assembly.

The current Constitution of Puerto Rico was approved through refendum in 1952, and ratified by the US Congress, which maintains ultimate sovereignty over Puerto Rico. Under the 1952 constitution, Puerto Rico is a territorial commonwealth of the United States and is permitted a high degree of autonomy. Still, Puerto Rico does not have voting representation in the U.S. Congress; neither does it have any delegates to the U.S. Electoral College. A non-voting Resident Commissioner is elected by the residents of Puerto Rico to the U.S. Congress. Residents of the island do not pay federal income tax on income from island sources.

Puerto Rico′s three major political parties are most distinguished by their position on the political status of Puerto Rico. The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) seeks to maintain or improve the current Commonwealth status, the New Progressive Party (PNP) seeks to fully incorporate Puerto Rico as a U.S. state, and the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) seeks national independence.

Three Puerto Rico status referenda have been held since the ratification of the 1952 constitution. In all, most Puerto Ricans have elected to maintain the current commonwealth status, but in the most recent referendum held in 1998 the commonwealth status prevailed by only a slight margin over statehood. Supporters for independence constitute less than 5% of the vote in referenda.

 

PUERTO RICO COUNTIES


Adjuntas
Aguada
Aguadilla
Maricao
Anasco
Utuado
Arecibo
Barceloneta
Cabo Rojo
Penuelas
Camuy
Lares
San German
Sabana Grande
Ciales
Dorado
Guanica
Florida
Guayanilla
Hatillo
Hormigueros
Isabela
Jayuya
Lajas
Las Marias
Manati
Moca
Rincon
Quebradillas
Mayaguez
San Sebastian
Morovis
Vega Alta
Vega Baja
Yauco
Aguas Buenas
Salinas
Aibonito
Maunabo
Arroyo
Ponce
Naguabo
Naranjito
Orocovis
Rio Grande
Patillas
Caguas
Canovanas
Ceiba
Cayey
Fajardo
Cidra
Humacao
San Lorenzo
Santa Isabel
Vieques
Villalba
Yabucoa
Coamo
Las Piedras
Loiza
Luquillo
Culebra
Juncos
Gurabo
Comerio
Corozal
Guayama
Barranquitas
Juana Diaz
San Juan
Toa Baja
Toa Alta
Bayamon
Catano
Guaynabo
Trujillo Alto
Carolina

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