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When Christopher Columbus arrived in Puerto Rico in 1493, the island was inhabited by Taíno Indians. They called the land Borinquén. This name was later changed to San Juan, named after the Baptist St John. During the period when Puerto Rico was under Spanish rule, it was given its current name, Puerto Rico (Rich Port). At this time, the Taíno Agüeybaná II was one of the most important leaders (caciques) on the island, and he led the Taino Revolt of 1511 against the Spanish conquistadors led by Juan Ponce de León.

In 1897, the country became independent from Spain. Because of the war between Spain and America and the resulting Paris Peace Treaty, Puerto Rico was placed under the authority of the US in 1899. The authority of the Americans led to all Puerto Ricans acquiring US citizenship in 1917. In the middle of the last century, the people of Puerto Rico were able to elect their own governor. The first governor was Luis Muñoz Marín from 1949 to 1965.

The citizens of Puerto Rico have the same rights as a US citizen. However, Puerto Rican citizens are not allowed to vote in US presidential elections. On the other hand, they do not have to pay income tax to the United States.

21th century

In November 2000, Sila Calderón was elected as the first female governor. She was succeeded by Anibal Acevedo Vila in November 2004. In 2006, the US Supreme Court rejects Puerto Rican citizens' request for the right to vote in presidential elections. In November 2008, Luis Fortuño won the election. Alejandro Garcia Padilla has been governor since January 2013. He will be succeeded by Ricardo Rosselo in January 2017. In September 2017, Puerto Rico was hit by two severe storms. The United States, and President Trump in particular, are criticised for the slow and lack of assistance. Governor Ricardo Rosselló resigns in July 2019 after days of street protests following a scandal involving group text messages containing offensive remarks. A referendum in late 2020 showed a narrow preference for US citizenship. Pedro Pierluisi has been governor since January 2021.


Peffer, R / Puerto Rico

Levy,P / Puerto Rico,

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated May 2024
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