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About Puerto Rico

By Victoria Harding

Puerto Rico

Visit the Island rich with Spanish history, architecture, and culture. With century old mansions, museums and cathedrals, Puerto Rico has so much to offer the interested traveler.

In 1993, a complete restoration of the island was completed and for the years of 94&95, Puerto Rico held many celebrations and festivals commemorating the new "face lift" of Puerto Rico. The Quincentennial Plaza, a three-tiered space with trees, fountains, and sculptures is the cornerstone of the restoration. This amazing plaza has two needle shaped columns pointing to the North Star, Columbus' guiding light, a 100 streamed fountain commemorating the first 100 years of the discovery of America, and three flights of stairs connecting the two plazas.

When visiting Puerto Rico, it's a great idea to visit some of Old San Juan's largest historic buildings including the 19th century hospital, Cuartel de Ballaja, a National Historic Monument. Also, Old San Juan's waterfront is a great place to visit with it's dominating walls of the El Morro Fortress and it's centuries old city walls.

In the Waterfront area, is the Paseo de la Princesa, a 19th century esplanade lined with fountains and towering palms.

This Latin Island beautifully combines Spanish colonial heritage with modern sophistication. Perfect for romance with it's cobblestone streets, this island provides an array of museums, performing arts centers, exquisite shops, top restaurants, casinos and nightclubs.

Puerto Rico Tourism Company 575 Fifth Avenue New York, NY
(212) 599-6262 - (800) 223-6530

Populated for centuries by aboriginal peoples, the island was claimed by the Spanish Crown in 1493 following 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 to retain commonwealth status.

Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. A diverse industrial sector has far surpassed agriculture as the primary locus of economic activity and income. Encouraged by duty-free access to the US and by tax incentives, 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 nearly 5 million tourists in 1999. Growth fell off in 2001-03, largely due to the slowdown in the US economy.

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