macrohistory & world report

Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Location of Puerto Rico

Location of Puerto Rico and its islands in the Caribbean

World Factbook as of November 2014: "Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region, however, growth has been negative for the past four years, and unemployment rose to nearly 16% in 2011. The industrial sector has surpassed agriculture as the primary locus of economic activity and income. Mainland US firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1950s. US minimum wage laws apply. Sugar production has lost out to dairy production and other livestock products as the main source of income in the agricultural sector. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income with estimated arrivals of more than 3.6 million tourists in 2008. Closing the budget deficit while restoring economic growth and employment remain the central concerns of the government."

Estimated per capita GDP (in 2010 US dollars)
2010: $16,300

Infant mortality (deaths before the age of one year per 1,000 live births)
2011: 8.07 deaths
2005: 8.24

Average life expectancy at birth
2011: 78.92 years
2007: 77.54 years


July 2011: 3.99 million

Births and Deaths per 1,000 population
2011: births 11.35, deaths 7.97

Living in an urban area
2010: 99%

Net migration rate
2011: A net loss of 0.86 per 1,000 population. (Puerto Ricans are US citizens.)

Ethnic groups
2007: white (mostly Spanish origin) 76.2%, black 6.9%, Asian 0.3%, Amerindian 0.2%, mixed 4.4%, other 12%

Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%

Literacy (age 15 and older)
2002: male: 93.9%, female 94.4%


Caribbean Islands, east of the Dominican Republic. Approximately 175 by 64 kilometers, or 110 by 40 miles. Capital: San Juan.


A self-governing territory of the United States. As with states within the United States, it has its own constitution and legislative bodies. Chief of state: the President of the United States. Bicameral Legislative Assembly consists of the Senate (at least 27 seats) and the House of Representatives (51 seats). Legislators are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms.

Capital: San Juan.

Recent History

1898: Spain is at war with the United States and cedes Puerto Rico to the United States.

July 4, 1950: President Harry S. Truman signs a law that allows Puerto Ricans to draft their own constitution. Puerto Rico is upgraded from a protectorate to a commonwealth.

April 19, 1999: two US Marine jets in training drop bombs over the island of Vieques. They miss their targets and kill a civilian, David Sanes Rodriguez, and injure four others. Protesters begin occupying the US Navy range at Vieques.

June 25, 2000: The practice bombing on Vieques resumes, using non-explosive dummy bombs.

April 27, 2001: Bombing exercises resume on Vieques Island.

June 14, 2001: President George W. Bush orders a halt to bombing exercises on Vieques Island, set to end by May, 2003.

The World Factbook

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.