Puerto Rico Commonwealth

Populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following Christopher COLUMBUS’ second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War.

Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly-elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose not to alter the existing political status with the US, but the results of a 2012 vote left open the possibility of American statehood.

Puerto Rican Flag

Puerto Rican Flag


Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic

Geographic coordinates:
18 15 N, 66 30 W

Map references:
Central America and the Caribbean

total: 13,790 sq km
country comparison to the world: 163
land: 8,870 sq km
water: 4,921 sq km

Area – comparative:
slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island

Land boundaries:
0 km

501 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

tropical marine, mild; little seasonal temperature variation

mostly mountains with coastal plain belt in north; mountains precipitous to sea on west coast; sandy beaches along most coastal areas

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Cerro de Punta 1,338 m

Natural resources:
some copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore oil

Land use:
arable land: 6.76%
permanent crops: 4.51%
other: 88.73% (2011)

Irrigated land:
220.4 sq km (2005)

Natural hazards:
periodic droughts; hurricanes

Environment – current issues:
erosion; occasional drought causing water shortages

Geography – note:
important location along the Mona Passage – a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal; San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean; many small rivers and high central mountains ensure land is well watered; south coast relatively dry; fertile coastal plain belt in north

Tabs Top

People & Society

noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Puerto Rican

Ethnic groups:
white 75.8%, black/African American 12.4%, other 8.5% (includes American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander, and others), mixed 3.3%
note: 99% of the population is Latino (2010 est.)

Spanish, English

Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%

3,620,897 (July 2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 130

Age structure:
0-14 years: 18.1% (male 335,142/female 319,765)
15-24 years: 14.5% (male 267,596/female 256,487)
25-54 years: 38.5% (male 665,092/female 727,412)
55-64 years: 17% (male 197,256/female 238,139)
65 years and over: 16.4% (male 265,674/female 348,334) (2014 est.)

Dependency ratios:
total dependency ratio: 50.1 %
youth dependency ratio: 28.8 %
elderly dependency ratio: 21.3 %
potential support ratio: 4.7 (2014 est.)

Median age:
total: 38.7 years
male: 36.8 years
female: 40.5 years (2014 est.)

Population growth rate:
-0.65% (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 227

Birth rate:
10.9 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178

Death rate:
8.51 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78

Net migration rate:
-8.93 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 211

urban population: 98.9% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 0.06% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas – population:
SAN JUAN (capital) 2.475 million (2011)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 0.92 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

Maternal mortality rate:
20 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
country comparison to the world: 140

Infant mortality rate:
total: 7.73 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 158
male: 8.53 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.91 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 79.09 years
country comparison to the world: 48
male: 75.46 years
female: 82.8 years (2014 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.64 children born/woman (2014 est.)
country comparison to the world: 178

Contraceptive prevalence rate:
note: percent of women aged 18-44 (2002)

Sanitation facility access:
urban: 99.3% of population
rural: 99.3% of population
total: 99.3% of population
urban: 0.7% of population
rural: 0.7% of population
total: 0.7% of population (2011 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS – deaths:

Education expenditures:

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 90.3%
male: 89.7%
female: 90.9% (2011 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 16 years
male: 14 years
female: 17 years (2011)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
total: 26.6%
country comparison to the world: 35
male: 28.9%
female: 23.1% (2012)

Tabs Top


Country name:
conventional long form: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
conventional short form: Puerto Rico

Dependency status:
unincorporated, organized territory of the US with commonwealth status; policy relations between Puerto Rico and the US conducted under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President

Government type:

name: San Juan
geographic coordinates: 18 28 N, 66 07 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:
none (territory of the US with commonwealth status); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 78 municipalities (municipios, singular – municipio) at the second order; Adjuntas, Aguada, Aguadilla, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Anasco, Arecibo, Arroyo, Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Bayamon, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Camuy, Canovanas, Carolina, Catano, Cayey, Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Coamo, Comerio, Corozal, Culebra, Dorado, Fajardo, Florida, Guanica, Guayama, Guayanilla, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Hatillo, Hormigueros, Humacao, Isabela, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Juncos, Lajas, Lares, Las Marias, Las Piedras, Loiza, Luquillo, Manati, Maricao, Maunabo, Mayaguez, Moca, Morovis, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Penuelas, Ponce, Quebradillas, Rincon, Rio Grande, Sabana Grande, Salinas, San German, San Juan, San Lorenzo, San Sebastian, Santa Isabel, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Vieques, Villalba, Yabucoa, Yauco

none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)

National holiday:
US Independence Day, 4 July (1776); Puerto Rico Constitution Day, 25 July (1952)

previous 1900 (Organic Act, or Foraker Act); latest ratified 3 March 1952, approved 3 July 1952, effective 25 July 1952; note – constitutional amendments introduced in 2012 were rejected in a referendum (2013)

Legal system:
civil law system based on the Spanish civil code and within the framework of the US federal system

18 years of age; universal; note – island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US
presidential elections

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)
head of government: Governor Alejandro GARCIA Padilla (since 2 January 2013)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the governor with the consent of the legislature
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: under the US Constitution, residents of unincorporated territories, such as Puerto Rico, do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in Democratic and Republican party presidential primary elections; governor elected by popular vote for a four-year term (no term limits); election last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2016)
election results: Alejandro GARCIA Padilla elected governor with 48.2% of the vote

Legislative branch:
bicameral Legislative Assembly consists of the Senate (at least 27 seats; members directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives (51 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate – last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2016); House of Representatives – last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2016)
election results: Senate – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – PPD 18, PNP 8, PIP 1; House of Representatives – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – PPD 28, PNP 23
note: Puerto Rico elects, by popular vote, a resident commissioner to serve a four-year term as a nonvoting representative in the US House of Representatives; aside from not voting on the House floor, he enjoys all the rights of a member of Congress; elections last held 6 November 2012 (next to be held in November 2016); results – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – PNP 1

Judicial branch:
highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 6 associate judges)
note – the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Judiciary Act of 2003 reformed the judicial system
judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate; judges serve until compulsory retirement at age 75
subordinate courts: Court of Appeals; First Instance Court comprised of superior and municipal courts

Political parties and leaders:
National Democratic Party [Roberto PRATS]
National Republican Party of Puerto Rico [Dr. Tiody FERRE]
New Progressive Party or PNP [Pedro ROSSELLO] (pro-US statehood)
Popular Democratic Party or PPD [Anibal ACEVEDO-VILA] (pro-commonwealth)
Puerto Rican Independence Party or PIP [Ruben BERRIOS Martinez] (pro-independence)

Political pressure groups and leaders:
Boricua Popular Army or EPB (a revolutionary group also known as Los Macheteros)
note: the following radical groups are considered dormant by Federal law enforcement: Armed Forces for National Liberation or FALN, Armed Forces of Popular Resistance, Volunteers of the Puerto Rican Revolution

International organization participation:
Caricom (observer), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, UNWTO (associate), UPU

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (territory of the US)

Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)

Flag description:
five equal horizontal bands of red (top 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
note: design initially influenced by the US flag, but similar to the Cuban flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed

National symbol(s):
Puerto Rican spindalis (bird); coqui (frog)

National anthem:
name: “La Borinquena” (The Puerto Rican)

Tabs Top


Economy – overview:
Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region, however, growth has been negative for the past four years, and unemployment rose to nearly 16% in 2011. The industrial sector has surpassed agriculture as the primary locus of economic activity and income. Mainland US firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. US minimum wage laws apply.

Sugar production has lost out to dairy production and other livestock products as the main source of income in the agricultural sector. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income with estimated arrivals of more than 3.6 million tourists in 2008. Closing the budget deficit while restoring economic growth and employment remain the central concerns of the government.

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$64.84 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 87
$68.84 billion (2009 est.)
$71.51 billion (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$93.52 billion (2010 est.)

GDP – real growth rate:
-5.8% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 217
-3.7% (2009 est.)
-2.8% (2008 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP):
$16,300 (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 84
$17,400 (2009 est.)
$18,100 (2008 est.)
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP – composition, by end use:

household consumption: 88.2%
government consumption: 14.6%
investment in fixed capital: 14%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 106.9%
imports of goods and services: -123.8%
(2013 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
agriculture: 0.7%
industry: 48.8%
services: 50.5% (2013 est.)

Agriculture – products:
sugarcane, coffee, pineapples, plantains, bananas; livestock products, chickens

pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products, tourism

Industrial production growth rate:
country comparison to the world: 156

Labor force:
1.286 million (March 2012)
country comparison to the world: 137

Labor force – by occupation:
agriculture: 2.1%
industry: 19%
services: 79% (2005)

Unemployment rate:
16% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 144
12% (2002 est.)

Population below poverty line:

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

revenues: $6.7 billion
expenditures: $9.6 billion (FY99/00)

Taxes and other revenues:
7.2% of GDP (FY99/00)
country comparison to the world: 211

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-3.1% of GDP (FY99/00)
country comparison to the world: 126

Public debt:
96.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 16
93.2% of GDP (2012 est.)

Fiscal year:
1 July – 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
0.9% (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
2.6% (2012 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

$69.75 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50
$67.3 billion (2012 est.)

Exports – commodities:
chemicals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates, medical equipment

$47.32 billion (2013 est.)
country comparison to the world: 57
$49 billion (2012 est.)

Imports – commodities:
chemicals, machinery and equipment, clothing, food, fish, petroleum products

Debt – external:
$56.82 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 59
$52.98 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange rates:
the US dollar is used

Tabs Top

Cincinnati Connection

Check back soon for more!