History of Puerto Rico
The history of Puerto Rico began with the settlement of the archipelago of Puerto Rico by the Ortoiroid people between 3,000 and 2,000 BC. Other tribes, such as the Saladoid and ArawakNative Puerto Ricans, populated the island between 430 BC and 1000 AD. At the time of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1493, the dominant indigenous culture was that of the Taínos. The Taíno people's numbers went dangerously low during the later half of the 16th century because of new infectious diseases carried by Europeans, exploitation by Spanish settlers, and warfare.
Located in the northeastern Caribbean, Puerto Rico formed a key part of the Spanish Empire from the early years of the exploration, conquest and colonization of the New World. The island was a major military post during many wars between Spain and other European powers for control of the region in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
In 1593 Portuguese soldiers, sent from Lisbon by order of Phillip II, composed the first garrison of the San Felipe del Morro fortress in Puerto Rico. Some brought their wives, while others married Puerto Rican women, and today there are many Puerto Rican families with Portuguese last names. The smallest of the Greater Antilles, Puerto Rico was a stepping-stone in the passage from Europe to Cuba, Mexico, Central America, and the northern territories of South America. Throughout most of the 19th century until the conclusion of the Spanish–American War, Puerto Rico and Cuba were the last two Spanish colonies in the New World; they served as Spain's final outposts in a strategy to regain control of the American continents. Realizing that it was in danger of losing its two remaining Caribbean territories, the Spanish Crown revived the Royal Decree of Graces of 1815. The decree was printed in Spanish, English and French in order to attract Europeans, with the hope that the independence movements would lose their popularity and strength with the arrival of new settlers. Free land was offered to those who wanted to populate the islands on the condition that they swear their loyalty to the Spanish Crown and allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1898, during the Spanish–American War, Puerto Rico was invaded and subsequently became a possession of the United States. The first years of the 20th century were marked by the struggle to obtain greater democratic rights from the United States. The Foraker Act of 1900, which established a civil government, and the Jones Act of 1917, which made Puerto Ricans U.S. citizens, paved the way for the drafting of Puerto Rico's Constitution and its approval by Congress and Puerto Rican voters in 1952. However, the political status of Puerto Rico, a Commonwealth controlled by the United States, remains an anomaly. Learn more
Culture of Puerto Rico
The culture in Puerto Rico is characterized by a wonderful amalgamation of influences, both international and indigenous. Some of the most prominent include Taino, the island’s indigenous group, Spanish, who ruled the territory for centuries, African, which is a direct result of the slave trade and of course, North American. These can clearly be seen in the cuisine, music and literature that the island produces.
Puerto Rican cuisine takes the cooking traditions of both Africa and Spain and blends them into a delicious Creole. Ingredients like coconut, yams, okra and other root vegetables are mixed with popular ingredients like olives, capers, onions and garlic which are rooted from Spain. More recently the island’s food has been influenced by the styles and traditions of the United States.
In similar fashion the music of Puerto Rico is a vibrant mix of international and local sounds. Popular genres include bomba, seis and plena, while more modern beats have brought reggae to the island. A combination of fiery Latino and earthy African rhythms have produced and exciting and unique sound.