Some information regarding Puerto Rico to understand the reality of the country:
A self-governing island commonwealth of the West Indies, associated with the United States. The easternmost island of the Greater Antilles chain, it lies approximately 50 miles (80 km) east of the Dominican Republic, 40 miles (65 km) west of the Virgin Islands, and 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of the U.S. state of Florida. It is situated in the northeastern Caribbean Sea, its northern shore facing the Atlantic Ocean. Two small islands off the east coast, Vieques and Culebra, are administratively parts of Puerto Rico, as is Mona Island to the west.
Puerto Ricans, or puertorriqueños, have an intermingled Spanish, U.S., and Afro-Caribbean culture. The island’s social and economic conditions are generally advanced by Latin American standards, partly because of its ties with the United States (including the presence of U.S.-owned manufacturing plants and military bases in the commonwealth). Although that relationship has become politically controversial, the vast majority of Puerto Rican voters have continued to favour permanent union with the United States, with a slightly greater number favouring the current commonwealth relationship rather than statehood. A small but persistent minority has advocated independence.
The people » Ethnic composition
Puerto Rico’s population is ethnically mixed because of centuries of immigration and cultural assimilation. There is little overt racial discrimination, although people of Spanish and other European ancestry are still esteemed among most elite members of society. Between 20,000 and 50,000 Taino Indians inhabited the island when Columbus arrived there in 1493, but European diseases and maltreatment largely decimated them. The Spanish brought only a limited number of African slaves to Puerto Rico compared with other islands in the region because the local plantations remained relatively small and unimportant. Spanish males, who constituted the largest group of immigrants, freely intermarried with indigenous women and Africans. When slavery was abolished in 1873, only about 5 percent of the population was of entirely African ancestry. Some Chinese, Italians, Corsicans, Lebanese, Germans, Scottish, and Irish also found their way to the island in the mid-19th century, a time when the population was growing steadily. Additional immigrants arrived from the United States after 1898, and more than 20,000 Cuban exiles joined them after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in 1959. In subsequent decades an even larger number of job-seeking immigrants arrived from the Dominican Republic.
The people » Language and religion
Both Spanish and English are official languages in Puerto Rico, which remains a predominantly Spanish-speaking society. Many English words have been added to the island’s popular lexicon. English is also widely understood, and about one-fourth of Puerto Rican adults speak English fluently.
Puerto Rico’s constitution guarantees freedom of religion. Today about two-thirds of the island’s inhabitants are Roman Catholics, a legacy of its centuries as a Spanish colony. In the 19th century the church’s loyalty to Spain eroded much of its popular support, and after 1898 many Protestant missionaries arrived from the United States, including Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Methodists, Disciples of Christ, and Congregationalists. Adherents to Protestant churches now account for more than one-fourth of the population.
Administration and social conditions » Government
Puerto Rico’s political status is officially described in its 1952 constitution as a “freely associated state” within the federal system of the United States. The U.S. government’s Puerto Rico–Federal Relations Act (1950), which retains many provisions of the earlier Foraker (1900) and Jones (1917) acts, further defines U.S.–Puerto Rican relations. Universal suffrage has been in effect since 1932 (12 years after it was instituted for the continental United States); prior to that time, neither Puerto Rican women nor illiterate males had been allowed to vote. Although Puerto Ricans have been U.S. citizens since 1917, they cannot vote in U.S. presidential elections, but those 18 years and older may vote for a resident commissioner to the U.S. House of Representatives—who is allowed to speak but may vote only in committees. (Thus, Puerto Ricans do not pay federal taxes because they are without representation.) The commonwealth constitution, which was patterned on its U.S. counterpart, provides for executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The constitution may be altered by the commonwealth so long as its articles do not conflict with the U.S. constitution or the Puerto Rico–Federal Relations Act.
The governor, who heads the executive branch, is elected by direct popular vote to a four-year term and may seek reelection. The legislature is composed of the Senate (Senado) and the House of Representatives (Cámara de Representantes), whose members are elected to four-year terms and are also eligible for reelection. At a minimum, there are 27 seats in the Senate and 51 in the House of Representatives; the constitution provides for the addition of special at-large seats in order to limit a majority party’s membership to two-thirds of either house. Legislators from the island’s 8 senatorial districts (with 2 senators each) and 40 representative districts (with 1 representative each) are elected through a system of proportional representation. In addition 11 senators and 11 representatives are directly elected at large. The island is further divided into 78 municipalities, each of which is governed by a mayor and council who are directly elected to four-year terms.
Puerto Rico’s justice system is headed by the island’s Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo), whose six justices are appointed to life terms by the governor with the advice and consent of the commonwealth Senate. There are 12 superior courts and scores of municipal courts. A U.S. district court has jurisdiction over the application of federal laws in Puerto Rico, and appeals may be carried to the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. The level of corruption in the Puerto Rican justice system is probably no worse than that found in the United States. Although the island’s prisons are overcrowded and in poorer condition than U.S. prisons, they are generally better than those found in other parts of Latin America.
Puerto Rico has three main political parties, each of which advocates a different political status for the island. The two leading parties are the Popular Democratic Party, which supports the continuation of commonwealth status, and the New Progressive Party, which favours U.S. statehood. Together these two parties have commanded virtually all the vote in elections since the late 20th century. The Puerto Rican Independence Party, which won one-fifth of the vote in 1952, is supported by about 5 percent of the electorate.
Cultural life » Sports and recreation
Baseball is Puerto Rico’s national sport, and the island has long been a source for U.S. major-league players, including Roberto Clemente, Juan (“Igor”) González, Bernie Williams, Roberto Hernández, Iván Rodríguez, and Leo Gómez. Boxing and basketball are also popular, as exemplified by the Puerto Rican welterweight boxing champion Félix (“Tito”) Trinidad in the late 1990s. Cockfighting and thoroughbred horse racing events (where gambling is permitted) are also well attended. Puerto Rico has competed in the Olympic Games since 1948, and its boxers are frequent contenders for medals.
Puerto Rico -- Britannica Online EncyclopediaEconomy of Puerto Rico
Currency 1 United States dollar (US$) = 100 cents
Fiscal year 1 July - 30 June
Trade organizations CARICOM (observer)
GDP $72.61 billion (2007)
GDP growth -1.2% (2007)
GDP per capita $17,800 (2008)
GDP by sector: (2002 est.)
Pop below poverty line: 45.4% (2006 U.S. Census)
Labor force: 1.3 million (2000 est.)
Labor force by occupation: agriculture 3% industry 20% services 77% (2000 est.)
Unemployment 15% (2009)
Main industries pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products, tourism
Economy of Puerto Rico - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia