Brief History of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico is a great place to travel to, it’s history is full of interesting facts; here are a few of them:
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico) is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the Caribbean.
It consists of the main island Puerto Rico, and three small islands which are the Isla de Mona, Culebra, and Vieques.
History books tell of an Ortoiroid people who were displaced by the Saladoid’s, a culture from the same region that arrived on the island some time around 250 BC.
The Taíno culture developed on the island between the 7th and 11th century. By 1000 AD, it had become the dominant race.
By 1493, when Columbus arrived, the island was populated by an estimated 30,000 to 60,000 Amerindians Tainos, led by the cacique chief Agüeybaná.
The Tainos called the island Boriken, which means “The great land of the valiant and noble Lord”.
Christopher Columbus claimed the island, for the Crown of Castile in Spain.
For four centuries after that the island was transformed into a colony of Spain.
This changed the islands ethnic, cultural and physical landscapes. Some of which is still evident in Old San Juan.
During this era the island’s population grew with Africans, Canarians, and Andalusian settlers from Spain.
Hundreds also arrived in Puerto Rico, Corsica, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy and Scotland.
As the population grew they immigrated to the islands of Vieques and Culebra.
In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, the United States of America appropriated Puerto Rico together with most former Spanish colonies under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.
The Spanish vocabulary of Puerto Rico has words that differentiate them from the Spanish spoken in other Caribbean islands.
It’s similar to the Castilian dialect from Spain, with some Taino words in it.
Mainly in the context of vegetation, natural phenomenas or musical instruments.
They also use some words that are similar to words used in the West African languages, chiefly in the contexts of music dances.
For the last century the culture in Puerto Rico is Americanized which has led to the increment of the use of Spanglish.
Spanglish are english-spanish words. Many of which now grace the pages of dictionaries.
Since the occupation of Spain, the Roman Catholic faith is the dominant religion in the island. Every town has a catholic church in it’s town center, usually close to the Town Hall.
Other christians faith have grown in the island are the Pentecosts, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Adventist and Mormon’s faith, and a few Jewish Synagogues.
It is now the dominant religion in Puerto Rico. All municipalities in Puerto Rico have at least one Catholic Church, usually located in the center of the town, close to the Town Hall.
The largest and oldest Public University is the public Universidad de Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico University), it has 11 large campuses.
You must have a B average (3.0 GPA) or higher or to get in, and you must maintain it in order to graduate.
The quality of the education it offers has been compared to Princeton, and Harvard.
It has a four (4) schools of Science and Medicine, and three (3) – ABA-approved Law Schools.
Some of the islands most brilliant minds, prominent senators, scientists, and scholars are graduates of the University of Puerto Rico.
The University of Puerto Rico has helped restore the islands faith in public education.
Puerto Rico also is one of the few countries in the world to have 5 Miss Universe title winners.
Must see places in Puerto Rico
El Yunque National Forest, Old San Juan, Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Castillo San Cristobal, La Fortaleza, Museo de Arte de Ponce, Culebra, Vieques, Isla de Mona, Condado Beach, Arecibo Observatory, Cayo Icacos, Cuevas de Camuy.
El Yunque Rain Forest
Hike through El Yunque Rain Forest and discover a true green paradise. La Coca Falls has an impressive natural water fall.
Flamenco Beach, Zoni Beach and El Polvorín are three of the must see beaches in Culebra especially for those who like to swim, dive or snorkel in a clear water – white – sand beach.
Culebra is a great place to do some beach hopping, snorkeling, kayaking, fishing, and even surfing.
You can also hike and do some interesting like bird watching. There are tons of different birds and parrots. Some are huge.
Most people in Culebra park the car and walk everywhere.
Or you can just go there to get away from the city life, connect with nature and relax.
The Island Vieques
Vieques is an island to simply relax. There are no casinos, no golf courses, no strip malls no major shopping centers, like there are in the main island.
Vieques is a getaway. What is there? A low tide beach, great food, and a relaxing atmosphere.
There is a bay that glows in the dark, the other is in Lares.
At night the sky lights up over Vieques – since the island is small the street lights do not dominate the space. The stars dominate the space. There are a few more than the city light allows you to see. I would say, a few hundred more.
The Arecibo Observatory is a radio telescope in the municipality of Arecibo.
The radio telescope terrestrial aeronomy experiments include the Coqui II experiment, supported by NASA. The telescope has military intelligence.
The Arecibo Observatory telescope is said to be the largest on the planet. See the video.
The city of Old San Juan
The first thing that you will notice about old San Juan is that it has been preserved. It houses, buildings, streets and forts that date back several hundred of years.
Old San Juan has the largest harbor in the region, and is the the capital of Puerto Rico.
Take a boat trip around San Juan then walk thru the city. It’s a wonderful way to start a day.
By the water front, you will see the Condado (Tourist Area), the Fort San Cristobal, it’s the largest fort built by Spain in the New World.
North you will observe, the Capitol Building – it’s made of marble. Similar in shape as the one in Washington, D.C.
Across the bay you will see the Bacardi Distillery in the (islet) Isla de Cabras with its Fort, San Juan De La Cruz. They have daily tours.
In old San Juan you will also see the – Paseo de La Princesa (full of street vendors), the Roots Fountain, The Governors Mansion (San Catalina Castle) and Fort San Felipe Del Morro – which dates back several hundred years.
Camuy River Cave Park
Once you arrive at the Camuy River Cave Park, you will board a trolley to descend about 200 feet (60 m) underground to an million year old cave, where you will walk through Cueva Clara. It has a limestone floor. And a gothic looking ceiling.
The cave is said to have been used by the Taíno Indians.
For such a small island Puerto Rico has a huge history, one of the great things about Puerto Rico is being able to hop on a cruise boat and sail away.