General Information

Puerto Rico, a Dutch Caribbean island, is known for its beaches tucked into coves and its expansive coral reefs rich with marine life. The capital, Willemstad, has pastel-colored colonial architecture, floating Queen Emma Bridge and the sand-floored, 17th-century Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue. It’s also a gateway to western beaches like Blue Bay, a popular diving site.

Population

The population of Puerto Rico has been shaped by Amerindian settlement, European colonization especially under the Spanish Empire, slavery and economic migration. Currently it has a population of 3,411,307.

Political Structure

Puerto Rico is a self-governing commonwealth in association with the United States. The chief of state is the President of the United States of America. The head of government is an elected Governor. There are two legislative chambers: the House of Representatives, 51 seats, and the Senate, 27 seats.

Infrastructure and Economy

Puerto Rico has changed from an agricultural economy, based primarily on sugar, tobacco, and coffee products, to a thriving modern industrial and services oriented economy. In 1940, agriculture represented 33.7 percent of total net income, while manufacturing had 12.8 percent of the total. Nevertheless, in 2002 agriculture composed 1.0 percent of total net income while manufacturing made up 45.7 percent of the total. The financial sector is the second largest sector, with 15.0 percent of total net income. The transformation towards the industrial and services sectors has taken place in a period of over four decades. During this time structural changes have also occurred, as is the case of the manufacturing sector. This sector gradually changed from one of labor-intensive industries in the first stages of development to one of capital-intensive industries. In the last ten years this structural change intensified with the significant reduction of labor-intensive industries and the development not only of capital-intensive industries but also of knowledge intensive industries, such as biotechnology.

Language

Both Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico, but Spanish is without a doubt the dominant language, as the majority of the people in Puerto Rico are not proficient in English.

Currency

Puerto Rico currency is the United States Dollar.

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