Flag of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a United States unincorporated territory with Commonwealth status located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the British Virgin Islands; about 1,000 miles off the south coast of Florida. The archipelago of Puerto Rico includes the main island of Puerto Rico (the smallest of the Greater Antilles) and a number of smaller islands and keys, the largest of which are Mona, Vieques, and Culebra. Puerto Ricans sometimes refer to their island as Borikén, or the Spanish variant Borínquen, a name for the island used by indigenous Taíno people.

Puerto Rico is comparatively small, 8959 sq km (3459 sq miles), with a central mountain range reaching an altitude of 1338m (4390ft) at Cerro de Punta, and surrounded by low coastal plains. The capital city of San Juan is divided into an old and a new quarter. The old part was founded in 1521 and is now officially declared a National Historic Zone. It contains many 16th and 17th-century buildings, which have been fully restored and refurbished in the original Spanish style. The city also boasts several museums including one devoted to the legendary cellist, Pablo Casals. Its famous San Juan Cathedral, originally built in the 1520s, was completely restored in 1977. San Jose Church is reputed to be the second-oldest church in the Western hemisphere. The modern architecture of New San Juan has flourished in recent years. The Botanical Gardens are worth a visit, and a bay cruise is available offering views back to the city. The Phosphorescent Bay, near La Parguera in the southwest of the island, is a major attraction. Here, marine life lights up when disturbed by fish, boats or any movement. The island cuisine includes paella, sancocho (beef stew), jueyes (land crabs) and pan de agua (Puerto Rican bread). Nightlife is abundant, ranging from spectacular shows in large hotels to dancing, jazz recitals, classical concerts and discos.

Map of Puerto Rico