77 Interesting Facts About Puerto Rico    

Puerto Rico is an archipelago consisting of the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands. With these 77 interesting facts about Puerto Rico, let’s learn about its history, culture, people, beaches, wildlife, trade, economy, caves, food, flag and more.

Historical facts about Puerto Rico

1. The name Puerto Rico (rich port) is derived from the abundant gold that the initial Spanish settlers found on the island.

2. Slaves were imported from Africa to help with the production of cattle, sugar cane, coffee and tobacco on the island.

3. Two-thirds of the island was a U.S. naval base for almost 60 years. The navy used the area extensively for bombing and military-training purposes. However, after the accidental death of a civilian, the area was abandoned as a Navy base and eventually became a wildlife reserve.

4. Puerto Rico was one of Spain’s last two colonies in the New World (the other being Cuba).

5. Discovered by Columbus: Puerto Rico was first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, and several invasion attempts were made by the French, Dutch, and British. During his journey, he stayed on the island for two days.

6. Before discovery: It is notable here that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492, one year before discovering Puerto Rico. Before his arrival, the archipelago was inhabited by Taíno Indians, who called it ‘Borinquen.’

7. Christopher Columbus named the island “San Juan Bautista” for St. John the Baptist.

8. Did you know that at one time, the U.S. planned to purchase Puerto Rico for a sum of $160 million? However, Spain refused (Puerto Rico was under Spanish treaty at the time).

9. During the Spanish-American War, U.S. acquired Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines under the treaty of Paris. The cost of the treaty to the U.S. was $20,000,000.

10. One particularly interesting stat to note is that the country’s population grew from 155,428 in 1800 to nearly one million in the 19th century.

11. Change of name: The island’s name was changed to “Porto Rico” in 1898 by the U.S. However, it was changed back to “Puerto Rico” in 1931.

Puerto Rico is unique for: pharmaceuticals, giant telescope, blue sand beaches, cave system and Bacardi rum

12. Barceloneta in Puerto Rico has the biggest pharmaceutical complex in the world (14 industries). Wondering why? The water in Barceloneta is so pure that it requires very little treatment for use in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products.

13. Barceloneta is also known as the “pineapple city” because of its extensive pineapple plantations.

14. If you want to visit the island, also be aware that Barceloneta is famous for its blue sand beaches. Now why the color blue? It is due to the high iron content in the sand, which gives it its blue color.

15. A giant telescope: For those who love to explore the skies and are interested in astronomy, note that Puerto Rico is also home to the largest single-aperture telescope ever constructed – “the Arecibo Observatory.” It has 40,000 aluminum panels, each measuring three feet by six feet. The telescope has been featured in some Hollywood movies, including GoldenEye, a popular installment in the “James Bond” film series.

16. Sight seeing – Cave system: The river gives existence to a beautiful and magnificent cave system known the world over – Camuy. The system features more 10 miles of caverns, 220 caves and 17 entrances. Experts believe that there are still another 800 caves that are yet to be explored. Today, a 268-acre park is built around the cave system, providing tourists insights into some of the best natural locations in the country.

El Coqui, Puerto Rico
El Coqui, Puerto Rico. Image credit – Roberto Lee Fanfan Cortes

17. Unique frog: A frog from the island, “Coqui,” is found only in Puerto Rico. It produces a distinct, high-pitched sound – “ko-kee, ko-kee” – especially at night. The frog is also the unofficial national symbol of the country. Sadly, it is a threatened species now.

18. Forest without snakes and bears: Puerto Rico also has the only tropical rain forest in the U.S. Forest System – El Yunque. And you may be surprised to learn that this forest is free from snakes, bears and threatening animals of any kind!

19. A barkless dog: Interestingly, Puerto Rico is void of any naturally existing land mammals. Present-day mammals including horses, cattle, cats, and dogs, have all been introduced to the island from elsewhere. A barkless dog once existed on the island, but it is extinct today.

20. Holiday shoppers beware: the “Plaza Las Americas” mall in San Juan is one of the the most profitable malls per square foot in the world.

21. The Bacardi rum factory (est. 1862) in San Juan, is the largest rum distillery in the world (producing more 100,000 liters of rum every 24 hours). The distillery contributes nearly 85% of Bacardi’s total rum production, and the remainder is produced from the distilleries in Mexico and India.

22. Visitor’s paradise: An estimated five million people visit Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, each year.

23. Not a country: Puerto Rico is considered as a country by many; however, the fact is that it is not a country in itself. It is a territory of the United States.

24. Puerto Rico does not observe Daylight Saving Time.

25. Tax benefits and cuisines: Puerto Rico is a popular travel destination for tourists from around the world because of its attractive tax incentives and traditional cuisines.

26. Out of the many national holidays that Puerto Ricans observe, quite a few are held on Mondays, so that citizens can enjoy a longer weekend. Pretty smart, aren’t they!

27. San Juan has also been called one of the world’s busiest cruise-ship ports.

28. Arroz con Gandules, the national dish of Puerto Rico, is typically enjoyed by its residents during every festival and celebration.

29. Spanish influence: the island was ruled by the Spanish for nearly 400 years.

30. Puerto Rico is overwhelmingly Spanish speaking. The U.S. government has failed to establish English as the dominant language despite several efforts.

31. Citizenship: Juan Mari Brás was the first person to receive Puerto Rican citizenship. He received the citizenship certificate from the Puerto Rico Department of State on October 25, 2006. The government has since been granting Puerto Rican citizenship to people born in Puerto Rico and to those who have at least one parent who was born in Puerto Rico, and also to those who have lived at least one year in Puerto Rico and are an American citizen.

32. It is the largest insular territory of the U.S.

33. Voting: Puerto Rico does not have a vote in the U.S. Congress. They cannot even vote for the President or the Vice President of the U.S.

34. It is also called “the land of the Valiant lord.”

35. San Juan is Puerto Rico’s most populous city.

36. English speakers, but not advanced: nearly 90% of Puerto Rico’s population cannot speak English at an advanced level.

37. Puerto Ricans pay no income tax.

38. The President of the United States of America is the chief of the state of Puerto Rico. It is a commonwealth associated with the United States.

39. If you are a U.S. citizen visiting Puerto Rico, note that there is no visa requirement for you. However, those who are from the outside of the U.S. need to follow the requirements that are set for entering the U.S.

40. Over the years, Puerto Rico has produced five Miss Universe winners.

Read: Interesting facts about Bolivia

Facts about Puerto Rican food, people, flag, economy, trade, beaches etc

41. Food is inexpensive in Puerto Rico. So if you are looking for a place where you can eat well within your budget and enjoy your time, Puerto Rico is a good choice.

42. Beautiful streets: The streets in the country look amazing! They are paved with blue cobblestones, which makes them look stunning. Click through some photographs on a web search, and you’ll see why.

43. In 2013, the cost of running AC in Puerto Rico was three times that of in New York.

44. Puerto Rico is famous for three things – Rum, Ricky Martin and Recession.

45. Puerto Rico and rum have been related for more than 400 years now. The country produces some of the best rum in the world. The U.S. imports more than 70% of the rum sold in the country from Puerto Rico. They produce rum in three varieties: light, dark, and añejo, or aged.

46. Puerto Rico’s and Cuba’s flag are the same, but the colors of the bands and triangle are reversed.

47. Puerto Rico’s motto: “Puerto Rico does it better.”

48. The third-largest underground river in the world, the Río Camuy, is in Puerto Rico.

49. Puerto Rico is an officially multilingual country; as are others, such as India, Canada, Belarus, Cyprus, Madagascar, New Zealand, South Africa and Switzerland.

50. Currency: Puerto Ricans have the United States dollar as their official currency; however, they refer to it as the ‘peso’ or ‘dolar.’

51. Economy: Tourism, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and technology play a significant role in Puerto Rico’s economy.

52. Trade: The United States, the Dominican Republic and the U.K are Puerto Rico’s main trading partners.

53. The best time to visit Puerto Rico is between December and April.

54. Castillo San Cristóbal is one of Puerto Rico’s most important landmarks.

55. Beaches: Puerto Rico is known for its beautiful beaches, which can be found all over the island.

56. Ponce, also known as La Perla del Sur (“Pearl of the South”), is the second most-populous city in Puerto Rico.

57. Coffee lovers, pay attention: Puerto Rico is a coffee lovers’ paradise. Here, you can taste some of the best coffee in the world. With more than 10,000 coffee farms, there is no doubt Puerto Rico’s coffee is worth your attention!

58. Puerto Ricans are proud to say “I’m as Puerto Rican as a coquí.” See fact no. 17 and you’ll learn why.

Puerto Rico’s flag

Puerto Rico flag
Five equal horizontal bands of red (top, center, and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center; the white star symbolizes Puerto Rico; the three sides of the triangle signify the executive, legislative and judicial parts of the government; blue stands for the sky and the coastal waters; red symbolizes the blood shed by warriors, while white represents liberty, victory, and peace. Source – CIA

Facts about wildlife in Puerto Rico, climate, size etc

59. Puerto Rico is the easternmost and smallest island of the Greater Antilles group.

60. If you are interested in seeing a major breeding ground for wildlife, head to the uninhabited Mona Island.

61. Rio de la Plata is the longest river on the island. It runs for 74 km from Cayey to Dorado, and empties into the Atlantic.

62. Puerto Ricans imported mongoose from India for controlling the population of reptiles in cane fields. Yes, mongoose can be our friends in certain situations!

63. Are you curious about the weather in Puerto Rico? Throughout the year, the temperature varies between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

64. Bird, flower, tree: note Puerto Rico’s National Bird: Reina Mora; National Flower: Flor de Maga; National Tree: Ceiba.

About Puerto Rican culture

65. Puerto Rico has been the destination of choice for immigrants from various countries including Italy, France, Germany, Cuba, Lebanon, Scotland, Ireland, the Dominican republic and more.

66. The immigration of residents from these different countries gives Puerto Rico a rich culture.

67. In Puerto Rico, standing close to a person during conversation and kissing them on their cheeks is considered a sign of respect.

68. Grillwork is ubiquitous in Puerto Rican architecture because it offers security against criminal activity. Since the 1950s, high-rise condominiums have become desirable housing choices as opposed to individual housing and community housing, which prevailed in the country prior to the modern period.

69. Puerto Ricans prefer native food, although they enjoy fast food, as well.

70. Puerto Ricans prefer good family life and education over money. However, commodities such as cars, gadgets and clothes differentiate people.

Puerto Rico in Olympics; life quality, cock-fighting and internet penetration

71. Note that Puerto Rico competes in the Olympics individually, and they have won six medals in the Olympic games as of the date of this writing. Athletes from the region participate in events including tennis, wrestling, volleyball, boxing, swimming, the triathlon and table tennis.

72. According to ifitweremyhome.com, if Puerto Rico were your home instead of the United States you would be 2.2 times more likely to be unemployed and would use 56% less electricity.

73. Moreover, if Puerto Rico were your home instead of France, you would be 22.1 times more likely to be murdered.

74. Puerto Rico is slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island.

75. Cock-fighting is a legal and popular sport in Puerto Rico. In the majority of the towns in Puerto Rico, you can find stadiums built for rooster fights.

Leatherback sea turtle from Puerto Rico
Leatherback sea turtle – Scientific name: Dermochelys coriacea
Common name Spanish: Tinglar. Image credit – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

76. Puerto Rico is also home to the largest living reptile in the world – the leatherback sea turtle. You can see these endangered reptiles on the islands of Vieques and Culebra.

77. In 2016, more than 80% of Puerto Rico’s population uses the internet.

Geographical location of Puerto Rico

Quick facts about Puerto Rico for kids

Capital CitySan Juan
18°27′N 66°6′W
Largest CitySan Juan
18°27′N 66°6′W
Total area13,791 sq km
Population3,598,357 (July 2015 est.)
Official LanguageSpanish and English
National Anthem"La Borinqueña"
ReligionRoman Catholicism
BordersLand borders: 0 Km;
Coastline: 501 Km
CurrencyUnited States dollar ($) (USD)
Life expectancy79.25 Years (2012)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Climatetropical marine, mild; little seasonal temperature variation
Terrainmostly mountains with coastal plain in north; precipitous mountains to the sea on west coast; sandy beaches along most coastal areas
Natural resourcessome copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore oil
Agricultural land22%
Birth rate10.86 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate8.67 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio0.92 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
National symbol`Puerto Rican spindalis (bird), coqui (frog); national colors: red, white, blue
National anthem"La Borinquena" (The Puerto Rican)
Industriespharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products, tourism
Exports$68.19 billion (2015 est.)
chemicals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates, medical equipment
Imports$47.77 billion (2015 est.)
chemicals, machinery and equipment, clothing, food, fish, petroleum products
GDP - per capita (PPP)$38,000 (2015 est.)
Time ZoneAtlantic (UTC-4)
Internet country code.pr
Internet users2.86 million
percent of population: 79.5% (July 2015 est.)
Calling Code+1-787, +1-939
Drives on theRight