Populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following Christopher COLUMBUS' second voyage to the Americas. In 1898, after 400 years of colonial rule that saw the indigenous population nearly exterminated and African slave labor introduced, Puerto Rico was ceded to the US as a result of the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917. Popularly elected governors have served since 1948. In 1952, a constitution was enacted providing for internal self-government. In plebiscites held in 1967, 1993, and 1998, voters chose not to alter the existing political status with the US, but the results of a 2012 vote left open the possibility of American statehood. Economic recession on the island has led to a net population loss since about 2005, as large numbers of residents moved to the US mainland. The trend has accelerated since 2010; in 2014, Puerto Rico experienced a net population loss to the mainland of 64,000, more than double the net loss of 26,000 in 2010.



Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic

Geographic coordinates

18 15 N, 66 30 W

Map references

Central America and the Caribbean


total: 13,791 sq km
land: 8,870 sq km
water: 4,921 sq km

Area - comparative

slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island

Land boundaries

0 km


501 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical marine, mild; little seasonal temperature variation


mostly mountains with coastal plain in north; precipitous mountains to the sea on west coast; sandy beaches along most coastal areas


mean elevation: 261 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Cerro de Punta 1,338 m

Natural resources

some copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore oil

Land use

agricultural land: 22%
arable land 6.6%; permanent crops 5.6%; permanent pasture 9.8%
forest: 63.2%
other: 14.8% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

220 sq km (2012)

Natural hazards

periodic droughts; hurricanes

Environment - current issues

soil erosion; occasional drought causing water shortages

Geography - note

important location along the Mona Passage - a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal; San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean; many small rivers and high central mountains ensure land is well watered; south coast relatively dry; fertile coastal plain belt in north

People and Society


3,578,056 (July 2016 est.)


noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Puerto Rican

Ethnic groups

white 75.8%, black/African American 12.4%, other 8.5% (includes American Indian, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, other Pacific Islander, and others), mixed 3.3%
note: 99% of the population is Latino (2010 est.)


Spanish, English


Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant and other 15%

Age structure

0-14 years: 17.4% (male 317,875/female 304,601)
15-24 years: 14.11% (male 258,956/female 245,801)
25-54 years: 38.32% (male 657,713/female 713,511)
55-64 years: 12.19% (male 197,379/female 238,725)
65 years and over: 17.98% (male 276,608/female 366,887) (2016 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 50%
youth dependency ratio: 28.3%
elderly dependency ratio: 21.7%
potential support ratio: 4.6% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 39.5 years
male: 37.5 years
female: 41.4 years (2016 est.)

Population growth rate

-0.54% (2016 est.)

Birth rate

10.8 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Death rate

8.8 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Net migration rate

-7.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)

Population distribution

population clusters tend to be found along the coast, the largest of these is found in and around San Juan; an exception to this is a sizeable population located in the interior of the island immediately south of the capital around Caguas; most of the interior, particularly in the western half of the island, is dominated by the Cordillera Central mountains, where population density is light


urban population: 93.6% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: -0.21% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

SAN JUAN (capital) 2.463 million (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.02 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.83 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.91 male(s)/female (2016 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

14 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 7.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 79.4 years
male: 75.8 years
female: 83.1 years (2016 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.64 children born/woman (2016 est.)

Drinking water source

urban: 93.6% of population
rural: 93.6% of population
total: 93.6% of population
urban: 6.4% of population
rural: 6.4% of population
total: 6.4% of population (2001 est.)

Sanitation facility access

urban: 99.3% of population
rural: 99.3% of population
total: 99.3% of population
urban: 0.7% of population
rural: 0.7% of population
total: 0.7% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate


HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths


Major infectious diseases

note: active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in this country (as of August 2016); it poses an important risk (a large number of cases possible) among US citizens if bitten by an infective mosquito; other less common ways to get Zika are through sex, via blood transfusion, or during pregnancy, in which the pregnant woman passes Zika virus to her fetus (2016)

Education expenditures

6.4% of GDP (2013)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 93.3%
male: 92.8%
female: 93.8% (2015 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years
male: 14 years
female: 15 years (2013)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 26.6%
male: 28.9%
female: 23.1% (2012 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
conventional short form: Puerto Rico
etymology: Christopher COLUMBUS named the island San Juan Bautista (Saint John the Baptist) and the capital city and main port Cuidad de Puerto Rico (Rich Port City); over time, however, the names were shortened and transposed and the island came to be called Puerto Rico and its capital San Juan

Dependency status

unincorporated, organized territory of the US with commonwealth status; policy relations between Puerto Rico and the US conducted under the jurisdiction of the Office of the President

Government type

presidential democracy; a self-governing commonwealth in political association with the US


name: San Juan
geographic coordinates: 18 28 N, 66 07 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)


none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)

Administrative divisions

none (territory of the US with commonwealth status); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but there are 78 municipalities (municipios, singular - municipio) at the second order; Adjuntas, Aguada, Aguadilla, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Anasco, Arecibo, Arroyo, Barceloneta, Barranquitas, Bayamon, Cabo Rojo, Caguas, Camuy, Canovanas, Carolina, Catano, Cayey, Ceiba, Ciales, Cidra, Coamo, Comerio, Corozal, Culebra, Dorado, Fajardo, Florida, Guanica, Guayama, Guayanilla, Guaynabo, Gurabo, Hatillo, Hormigueros, Humacao, Isabela, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Juncos, Lajas, Lares, Las Marias, Las Piedras, Loiza, Luquillo, Manati, Maricao, Maunabo, Mayaguez, Moca, Morovis, Naguabo, Naranjito, Orocovis, Patillas, Penuelas, Ponce, Quebradillas, Rincon, Rio Grande, Sabana Grande, Salinas, San German, San Juan, San Lorenzo, San Sebastian, Santa Isabel, Toa Alta, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Utuado, Vega Alta, Vega Baja, Vieques, Villalba, Yabucoa, Yauco

National holiday

US Independence Day, 4 July (1776); Puerto Rico Constitution Day, 25 July (1952)


previous 1900 (Organic Act, or Foraker Act); latest ratified 3 March 1952, approved 3 July 1952, effective 25 July 1952 (2016)

Legal system

civil law system based on the Spanish civil code and within the framework of the US federal system


see United States


18 years of age; universal; note - island residents are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections

Executive branch

chief of state: President Barack H. OBAMA (since 20 January 2009); Vice President Joseph R. BIDEN (since 20 January 2009)
head of government: Governor Alejandro GARCIA Padilla (since 2 January 2013)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by governor with the consent of the Legislative Assembly
elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected on the same ballot by an Electoral College of 'electors' chosen from each state; president and vice president serve a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); under the US Constitution, residents of Puerto Rico do not vote in elections for US president and vice president; however, they may vote in Democratic and Republican party presidential primary elections; governor directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 4-year term (no term limits); election last held on 8 November 2016 (next to be held in November 2020)
election results: Ricardo ROSSELLO elected governor; percent of vote - Ricardo ROSSELLO (PNP) 41.8%, David BERNIER (PPD) 38.9%, Alexandra LUGARO (independent) 11.1%, Manuel CIDRE (independent) 5.7%

Legislative branch

description: bicameral Legislative Assembly or Asamblea Legislativa consists of the Senate or Senado (27 seats; 16 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 11 at-large members directly elected by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms); the House of Representatives or Camara de Representantes (51 seats; members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote to serve 4-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held on 8 November 2016); House of Representatives - last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held on 8 November 2016)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PPD 18, PNP 8, PIP 1; House of Representatives - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PPD 28, PNP 23
note: Puerto Rico directly elects 1 member by simple majority vote to serve a 4-year term as a commissioner to the US House of Representatives; the commissioner can vote when serving on a committee and when the House meets as the Committee of the Whole House, but not when legislation is submitted for a “full floor” House vote; election of commissioner last held on 6 November 2012 (next to be held on 8 November 2016)

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and 8 associate justices)
judge selection and term of office: justices appointed by the governor and confirmed by majority Senate vote; judges serve until compulsory retirement at age 70
subordinate courts: Court of Appeals; First Instance Court comprised of superior and municipal courts

Political parties and leaders

National Democratic Party [Roberto PRATS]
National Republican Party of Puerto Rico [Carlos MENDEZ]
New Progressive Party or PNP [Pedro PIERLUISI] (pro-US statehood)
Popular Democratic Party or PPD [Alejandro Garcia PADILLA] (pro-commonwealth)
Puerto Rican Independence Party or PIP [Ruben BERRIOS Martinez] (pro-independence)

Political pressure groups and leaders

Boricua Popular Army or EPB (a revolutionary group also known as Los Macheteros)

International organization participation

AOSIS (observer), Caricom (observer), Interpol (subbureau), IOC, UNWTO (associate), UPU, WFTU (NGOs)

Diplomatic representation in the US

none (territory of the US)

Diplomatic representation from the US

none (territory of the US with commonwealth status)

National symbol(s)

Puerto Rican spindalis (bird), coqui (frog); national colors: red, white, blue

Flag description

five equal horizontal bands of red (top, center, and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center; the white star symbolizes Puerto Rico; the three sides of the triangle signify the executive, legislative and judicial parts of the government; blue stands for the sky and the coastal waters; red symbolizes the blood shed by warriors, while white represents liberty, victory, and peace
note: design initially influenced by the US flag, but similar to the Cuban flag, with the colors of the bands and triangle reversed

National anthem

name: "La Borinquena" (The Puerto Rican)
lyrics/music: Manuel Fernandez JUNCOS/Felix Astol ARTES
note: music adopted 1952, lyrics adopted 1977; the local anthem's name is a reference to the indigenous name of the island, Borinquen; the music was originally composed as a dance in 1867 and gained popularity in the early 20th century; there is some evidence that the music was written by Francisco RAMIREZ; as a commonwealth of the US, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is official (see United States)


Economy - overview

Puerto Rico had one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region until 2006; however, growth has been negative for each of the last ten years. The downturn coincided with the phaseout of tax preferences that had led US firms to invest heavily in

Diminished job opportunities prompted a sharp rise in outmigration, as many Puerto Ricans sought jobs on the US mainland. Unemployment reached 16% in 2011, but declined to 13.7% in December 2014. US minimum wage laws apply in Puerto Rico, hampering job ex

The industrial sector greatly exceeds agriculture as the locus of economic activity and income. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income with estimated arrivals of more than 3.6 million tourists in 2008. Puerto Rico's merchandise trade

Closing the budget deficit while restoring economic growth and employment remain the central concerns of the government. The gap between revenues and expenditures amounted to 0.6% of GDP in 2016, although analysts believe that not all expenditures have be

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$131 billion (2016 est.)
$133.4 billion (2015 est.)
$133.4 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$100.9 billion (2015 est.)

GDP - real growth rate

-1.8% (2016 est.)
0% (2015 est.)
-1.4% (2014 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)

$37,700 (2016 est.)
$38,400 (2015 est.)
$37,700 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 89.7%
government consumption: 13.2%
investment in fixed capital: 12.4%
investment in inventories: 0.5%
exports of goods and services: 116%
imports of goods and services: -131.8% (2016 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 0.8%
industry: 50.1%
services: 49.1% (2016 est.)

Agriculture - products

sugarcane, coffee, pineapples, plantains, bananas; livestock products, chickens


pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products, tourism

Industrial production growth rate

-0.9% (2016 est.)

Labor force

1.139 million (December 2014 est)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 2.1%
industry: 19%
services: 79% (2005 est.)

Unemployment rate

13.7% (December 2014 est.)
15% (December 2013 est.)

Population below poverty line


Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $9.086 billion
expenditures: $9.684 billion (2016 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

9% of GDP (2016 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-0.6% of GDP (2016 est.)

Public debt

92.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
96.6% of GDP (2015 est.)

Fiscal year

1 July - 30 June

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

-0.2% (2016 est.)
-0.3% (2015 est.)

Commercial bank prime lending rate

4% (31 December 2016 est.)
3.3% (31 December 2015 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares



$70.41 billion (2016 est.)
$71.1 billion (2015 est.)

Exports - commodities

chemicals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates, medical equipment


$47.61 billion (2016 est.)
$49.71 billion (2015 est.)

Imports - commodities

chemicals, machinery and equipment, clothing, food, fish, petroleum products

Debt - external

$56.82 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$52.98 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used


Electricity - access

population without electricity: 357,805
electrification - total population: 91%
electrification - urban areas: 91%
electrification - rural areas: 80% (2012)

Electricity - production

20 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - consumption

19 billion kWh (2014 est.)

Electricity - exports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - imports

0 kWh (2013 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity

6.1 million kW (2014 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels

96.4% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants

1.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources

1.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil - exports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - imports

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves

0 bbl (1 January 2016 es)

Refined petroleum products - production

0 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption

133,700 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports

6,060 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports

150,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Natural gas - production

0 cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - consumption

1.663 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - exports

0 cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - imports

1.663 billion cu m (2014 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves

0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

19 million Mt (2013 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 813,106
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 23 (July 2015 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular

total: 3.205 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 89 (July 2015 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: modern system integrated with that of the US by high-capacity submarine cable and Intelsat with high-speed data capability
domestic: digital telephone system; mobile-cellular services
international: country code - 1-787, 939; submarine cables provide connectivity to the US, Caribbean, Central and South America; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (2015)

Broadcast media

more than 30 TV stations operating; cable TV subscription services are available; roughly 125 radio stations (2007)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 2.86 million
percent of population: 79.5% (July 2015 est.)



29 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 17
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 5 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 12
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 10 (2013)


total: 26,862 km (includes 454 km of expressways) (2012)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Ensenada Honda, Mayaguez, Playa de Guayanilla, Playa de Ponce, San Juan
container port(s) (TEUs): San Juan (1,484,595)
LNG terminal(s) (import): Guayanilla Bay


Military branches

no regular indigenous military forces; paramilitary National Guard, Police Force

Military - note

defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

increasing numbers of illegal migrants from the Dominican Republic cross the Mona Passage to Puerto Rico each year looking for work