10 Interesting Facts About Puerto Rico: The Island of Enchantment
Do you need to communicate with a Latin American audience? Are you exporting to selling your products or services to Spanish-speaking countries? Rosario Traducciones y Servicios SA invites you to join us on a virtual linguistic tour through the different countries of Latin America, as we explore their diversity and cultural riches. This month, our port of destination is Puerto Rico, the smallest country in the Antilles, and the second most visited Caribbean island, after Jamaica.
1) From Spanish rule to becoming a U.S. territory
Puerto Rico is the smallest and easternmost of the Greater Antilles islands with a land area of 9,104 km2 (3,515 sq mi). This archipelago is comprised of other smaller islands and cays, including Vieques, Culebra, Mona, Desecheo, and Caja de Muertos. In 1493, on his second voyage to the Americas, Christopher Columbus landed on this island. Later, the island was colonized by the Spanish and for four centuries it remained under Spanish rule. Puerto Rico, an island in the Caribbean Sea, has been a territory of the United States since 1898, after the U.S. defeated Spain in the Spanish-American war. Its classification as an “unincorporated territory” means the island is controlled by the U.S. government but is separate from the mainland. Also, the island does not have voting power in Congress and its citizens can’t vote for the U.S. president—but they can vote in party primaries. Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917. In July 1950, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 600, authorizing Puerto Rico to draft and approve its own Constitution, which entered into force on July 25, 1952.
2) The Caribbean city with the greatest defenses
In the 16th century, the Spanish built El Morro, a citadel to protect the city of San Juan from land attacks, making it one of the best defended port cities in the Caribbean. UNESCO declared El Morro Fort (Castillo San Felipe del Morro) and the old town of San Juan a World Heritage Site in 1983.
3) The Rum Kings
Puerto Rico is the largest producer of rum in the world: 86% of all rum sold in the United States comes from the island. Since 2009, the most important event in celebration of Caribbean rum production has been held in Puerto Rico. Year after year, at this event, the island is recognized by its peers as the world rum capital.
4) A natural soundtrack for Batman
The bat sounds used in the movie Batman Forever were recorded in the Camuy River Caverns National Park, one of the largest cave systems in the world and the largest in the western hemisphere. Bats are the only native mammals living on Puerto Rico. Fossil evidence indicates the past presence of a number of other species, including bats and non-flying mammals. These extinct animals include one shrew, one sloth, three leaf-nosed bats, and five rodents.
5) Pioneers in the use of the telegraph
The Puerto Rican municipality of Arroyo was the first place in Latin America to install a telegraph. It was there that, in 1858, the inventor of the telegraph, Samuel Morse, installed a private line from the Hacienda La Enriqueta, where his daughter Susan lived, to the warehouses in the port of Arroyo, where his son-in-law worked, the Danish merchant Edward Lind.
6) Cradle of the Taíno civilization
The Arawak Indians, who came from the coast of Venezuela, were the earliest inhabitants of the island of Puerto Rico, marking the beginning the Taíno civilization. As a result of the confrontation with other tribes and the Spanish conquest, this ethnic group was practically exterminated and currently there are almost no living members of this community.
7) A country with an eternal summer
Given its proximity to the equator, Puerto Rico enjoys a tropical climate with high temperatures year round. To visitors, it may seem like it is always just one season: summer. But locals can appreciate some slight variations, notably a hot and muggy season from May to October and a relatively cool season from December to March, with November and April as intermediate months. That said, there is only a temperature swing of around 6°F (3.3°C) between winter and summer. Tropical storms and hurricanes occur mainly in September and October.
8) Glowing beaches
A bioluminescent bay is the result of an ecosystem that flourishes when small microorganisms called dinoflagellates develop in protected habitats, which with the slightest movement of water release energy in the form of light causing everything to light up and glow In the dark of night. In the world there are only few beaches where you can see this phenomenon and Puerto Rico has three: Mosquito Bay, Laguna Grande and La Parguera.
9) Creators of the Pina Colada
The piña colada is the national cocktail of Puerto Rico. Although the creation of this world-famous cool and creamy alcoholic beverage has been attributed to three people, the most widely touted version of the legend behind its creation is that the pirate Roberto Cofresí was the first, as a way to rally his crew members. The drink is so popular on the island that it even has its own event: July 10 marks the national day in celebration of the piña colada.
10) Cradle of artistic talents
Despite being the smallest country in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico has produced many great artists. A number of Puerto Ricans have found fame in Hollywood, including Joaquin Phoenix, Oscar nominee and Golden Globes recipient. The consecrated Benicio del Toro is also a native of "the island of enchantment." And, despite having risen to fame as the “sun of Mexico,” it soon became known that the successful melodic singer Luis Miguel was born in Puerto Rico, when his Spanish father and his Italian-Argentine mother were passing through on tour.