Did you know that Puerto Rico, officially known as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States? And did you also know that it’s home to some pretty amazing scenery, including rain forests and bioluminescent bays? If you didn’t, then now you do! In addition to its natural beauty, there are many interesting facts about Puerto Rico that may surprise you.
For example, did you know that…
Puerto Ricans have their own designated seat in the United States Congress?
The official languages of Puerto Rico are Spanish and English?
And San Juan is the oldest city in the Americas?
There’s so much more to learn about this fascinating island. So read on for more fun facts!
Related: 10 Amazing Reasons to Travel to Puerto Rico
1. What’s In a Name?
In 1493, Christopher Columbus arrived on the Island of Enchantment and called it San Juan Bautista. The island’s name then became Puerto Rico, meaning “rich port”, because its rivers and streams had gold. The capital city was then named San Juan.
2. Size Matters
Located east of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico is only 3,515 square miles or 9,104 square kilometers.
3. Highest and Lowest Points
The highest point is Cerro de Punta which is said to have “the best view in all of Puerto Rico.” It stands at 1,338 meters or 4,390 feet above sea level.
The lowest point is the Caribbean Sea at sea level.
4. U.S. Citizenship
Yes, Puerto Ricans are American citizens! This is made possible through the Jones-Shafroth Act of 1917, which passed almost two decades after the Spanish-American War. Still, the island’s inhabitants also have Puerto Rican citizenship.
5. Not Just an Island
Believe it or not, there are 143 smaller islands, islets, and cays in Puerto Rico. Plus, these islands have the most beautiful beaches in the world!
6. Government and Sovereignty
Despite being a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico has its own government and sovereignty. This also means that they can’t vote in the U.S. Presidential Elections. However, the head of state is still the POTUS. The governor, who is the head of government, and legislators serve four-year terms.
7. Passport or Visa Requirements?
Interestingly, US citizens don’t need a passport or visa to travel to PR. In fact, the territory is a perfect destination for lawyers and attorneys to complete their CLE requirements thanks to Destination CLEs and the ease of travel to this island. With the Eduvacation℠ of Destination CLEs, you can relax on your well-earned vacation on top of receiving 14 CLE credit hours in beautiful Puerto Rico! Click here to learn more.
8. USD All the Way!
There’s no need to worry about having to exchange your U.S. dollars in Puerto Rico. Talk about convenience!
9. Taínos History
Did you know the Taíno or Taino Indians were the Arawak indigenous people who lived in the Caribbean and Florida? The Classic Taíno population was the group of people who inhabited the islands of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. However, when the Spaniards came, the Taíno became nearly extinct because they didn’t have immunity to the infectious diseases brought over during colonization.
Related: 10 Best Things To Do in Carolina, Puerto Rico
10. The Only Tropical Rainforest in the U.S.
El Yunque National Forest is home to an impressive 183 animal species and 240 plant species, respectively. If you enjoy natural wonders, you’ll definitely love the hiking trails and waterfalls in this magnificent rainforest.
Puerto Rico has a tropical climate with a dry and rainy season. From late June to November, you can expect natural hazards like hurricanes, while December to May typically has the dry season.
12. Beach, Please!
Of course, the island is filled with beautiful sandy beaches, including an iconic beach that hosts heavily-graffitied military tanks. Flamenco Beach houses these tanks right alongside its turquoise waters and fine white sands.
13. Extremely Tall
You can find the tallest statue in the Americas in PR. Called “Birth of the New World,” it’s more than twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty in New York City. It stands at 360 feet, or 110 meters. The statue was a tribute to Columbus.
14. A Trip to the Caverns
Puerto Rico also has the biggest cave system in the Western Hemisphere. The Caverns of Rio Camuy is an impressive cave network stretching for 268 acres. If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’ll love covering the mapped trails, subterranean waterfalls, and deep canyons here.
15. Going Into the Deep
The Puerto Rico Trench found in the north Atlantic Ocean is the deepest point of the ocean. The depths reach over 8,400 meters, or over 27,500 feet!
16. Bright Lights
For one of the most spectacular sights you’ll ever see, we suggest venturing to Lajas, Fajardo, or Vieques Island to find three of the world’s four bioluminescent bays. Plus, Mosquito Bay in Vieques Island is a Guinness Record holder for being the brightest bio bay in the world. La Parguera in Lajas allows you to swim in the waters, while Laguna Grande in Fajardo has night kayaking tours.
17. First Nuclear Plant
The Caribbean’s first nuclear plant can be found in Puerto Rico. However, it only serves as a museum today.
18. Forbidden Island
The small uninhabited island called Desecheo Island is forbidden because it was used as a testing field by the U.S. Navy during World War II until 1952, and today it still has explosive equipment present. It’s located northeast of Mona Island, and it became a tropical marine reserve in 2000.
This strange island also has an endangered cacti species called higo chumbo (Harrisia portoricensis).
19. More Uninhabited Islands
Caja de Muertos, Gilligans Island, Isla Palomino, and Cayo Caracoles are just a few of the other uninhabited islands in Puerto Rico. Visitors can stroll along the shore, but there might be other restrictions.
The Cathedral of Rum which houses Casa BACARDÍ, Bacardí Family Museum, Bacardí Distillery, and Bacardí Pavilion, is the largest rum distillery in the world. Plus, Casa BACARDÍ Special Reserve is an exclusive blend found only in Puerto Rico.
Related: The Best Places to Go for a Weekend Trip in the U.S.
21. If You Like Piña Coladas…
Although coconuts aren’t indigenous to the island, this tree was introduced in 1542 during the Spanish colonization and have grown in Puerto Rico since. The locals quickly incorporated coconuts into their diet and even invented piña colada in the process! Today, this PR national drink is a favorite all over the world!
22. Old San Juan’s Grandest
Catedral de San Juan Bautista is the second oldest structure in the Americas. It also houses the remains of Juan Ponce de León, who’s known to be the first governor of Puerto Rico and led the first European expedition to Florida. He died in Havana in 1521.
23. Cobblestone Streets
Old San Juan also has the original cobblestones that date back to when PR was still a colony of Spain. These are not your typical cobblestones, though. Instead, these stones have a greyish-blue tinge because of iron slag.
24. Pirate Robin Hood
Roberto Cofresí is a well-known pirate from this island. He used to attack ships and distribute the loot to the poor while he was actively pirating in the early 1800’s. The name Mosquito Bay also came from a small ship owned by this pirate Robin Hood.
25. Livin’ la Vida Loca
Who doesn’t love Ricky Martin? Maybe the younger generation wouldn’t know him right away, but even Gen Z would be able to recognize his iconic Latin pop songs. This singer-songwriter is just one of the many famous Puerto Ricans who dominated the world of celebrities. Other notable people with Puerto Rican ancestry include Rita Moreno, Michelle Rodriguez, Lin-Manuel Miranda, José Ferrer, Carmelo Anthony, Bruno Mars, and Benicio del Toro, among others.
All in all, Puerto Rico is an amazing place with a rich culture and history. If you’re looking for a vacation destination that offers something unique and exciting, look no further than Puerto Rico!
Whether you want to relax on the beach or explore the jungle, there’s something for everyone in Puerto Rico.
And don’t forget, with the Eduvacation℠ of Destination CLEs, you can earn your required CLE credits while enjoying all of the fun activities PR has to offer.
So, what are you waiting for? Click here to start planning your dream vacation to Puerto Rico today!
- 10 Amazing Reasons to Travel to Puerto Rico
- 10 Best Things To Do in Carolina, Puerto Rico
- The Best Places to Go for a Weekend Trip in the U.S.