The Caribbean is one of the world’s most frequently visited regions. Among the many great islands in this vast region is the island known as “rich port”, or Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is the largest insular territory of the United States. It is neighbored by its smaller islands Vieques, Mona, Culebra, Desecheo, and Caja de Muertos. Puerto Rico is not just any island to which natives call home, but an island known for so much more. Puerto Rico is an island that is the home of great icons. It is an island known for its great highlights. Further, it is the island home to many of the famous people who made a long-lasting contribution to our American culture.
Whether visiting the Caribbean via plane or cruise ship, Puerto Rico is the island at the ready with a welcoming smile. Its official languages are English and Spanish. However, Puerto Rico no longer observes Daylight Savings Time. With a population of 3.5 million, Puerto Rico’s rich history, inspiring culture, tropical climate, diverse natural scenery, and renowned traditional cuisine make it a popular destination for travelers from around the world.
Originally populated by the aboriginal Taino people, the island was claimed in 1493 by Christopher Columbus for Spain. It later endured several invasion attempts by the French, Dutch, and British. During the four centuries of Spanish rule, Puerto Rico’s ethnic, cultural, and physical landscapes were transformed as the island was settled overwhelmingly by Spanish settlers. In result, Puerto Rico is an overwhelmingly Catholic and noticeably Hispanic territory in terms of culture and language. In 1898, following the Spanish-American War, the United States took over the island under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.
Puerto Rico is deeply rich in history and culture. Candidly, its geographical highlights are what take visitors’ breaths away. Out of Puerto Rico’s five neighboring islands, only Culebra and Vieques are inhabited year-round. Culebra, located merely eighteen miles away from the Puerto Rico mainland, is home to Flamenco Beach. Flamenco Beach is considered to be one of the top ten beaches in the world. Mona, which has played a key role in maritime history, is uninhabited most of the year except for employees of the Puerto Rico Department of Natural Resources.
One of the most important peaks on Puerto Rico is El Yunque. El Yunque is one of the highest in the Sierra de Luquillo at the El Yunque National Forest, with an elevation of 3,494 ft. Puerto Rico has seventeen lakes, all man-made, and more than fifty rivers, most originating in the Cordillera Central. Puerto Rico is composed of Cretaceous to Eocene volcanic and plutonic rocks, covered by younger Oligocene and more recent carbonates and other sedimentary rocks. Most of the Puerto Rico’s caverns and karst topography on the island occur in the northern region in the carbonates. Karst topography is a landscape formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves. The oldest rocks are approximately one hundred and ninety million years old. These rocks are located at Sierra Bermeja in the southwest part of the island.
Puerto Rico without question, has produced some of the most talented stars the world of showbiz has ever seen. Such stars include Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, and Jimmy Smits. Not to be outdone, Puerto Rico has produced some of the most iconic names on the Broadway stage. What would the Broadway world do without “Hamilton” and what would the stage do without Lin-Manuel Miranda? Not just Miranda, Chita Rivera is another legend of the Broadway stage. In the sports world, Roberto Clemente was the face of professional baseball. He was one of the great role models of his time. His life was cut short in a plane crash in Puerto Rico in 1972. To top it off, Puerto Rico was the birthplace of one of the most influencial public figures of the 20th Century. Luis Muñoz Marín (1898-1980) was a gifted poet, journalist, politician, and statesman. His name is forever etched in Puerto Rico’s history. He was regarded as the “Father of Modern Puerto Rico” and the “Architect of the Commonwealth.”
Before leaving Puerto Rico, travelers should not forget to visit the famous Bacardi Rum Factory. It is located on he west side of Old San Juan. Bacardi was founded in Cuba in 1862. Bacardi has a well-decorated history of its own. Bacardi has been an international brand thanks to its business genius Henry Schueg. Henry Schueg was the brother-in-law of Emilio Bacardi. Bacardi has been making rum on the island of Puerto Rico since 1936. Today, Bacardi sells in excess of two hundred million bottles per year. The Bacardi logo, the bat, stands as the symbol for “family”.
The Caribbean has a lot of great islands for many to write home about. The U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John) are the most romantic of them all. St. Maarten/Martin is the considered to be the most vibrant island in the Caribbean. There is no island which has affected our history and modern culture more than Puerto Rico. Its breathtaking natural wonders, friendly locals, and well-known tropical climate make it an island to be treasured year-round. What would Puerto Rico be without it’s entertainment and sports icons? Puerto Rico has also been known for its great political figures. Last, but not least, Puerto Rico has been the long time home of the world’s famous rum manufacturers. Puerto Rico is more than just an island of Caribbean flavors and Latino beats. It is “la isla de las estrellas brillantes”, or “the island of shining stars”. “Puerto Rico: La isla de las estrellas brillantes” will make its debut in January 2017.