Alternate titles: Borinquen, republic of Puerto Rico, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, san Juan Bautista
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San Felipe del Morro (also referred to as El Morro) castle, on a high bluff overlooking san Juan Bay, Puerto Rico.

Puerto Ricans, or puertorriqueños, have actually an intermingled Spanish, U.S., and also Afro-Caribbean culture. The island’s social and also economic conditions are generally progressed by Latin American standards, partly due to the fact that of the ties v the United states (including the presence of U.S.-owned production plants and also military bases in the commonwealth). Although that partnership has become politically controversial, the vast bulk of Puerto Rican voters have continued to favour permanent union v the joined States, v a slightly higher number favouring the current commonwealth relationship quite than statehood. A small but persistent minority has promoted independence.


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The land

Relief

Puerto Rico is largely composed the mountainous and hilly terrain, with practically one-fourth the the island spanned by steep slopes. The hills are the easternmost expansion of a strict folded and faulted ridge the extends native the main American mainland across the north Caribbean come the Lesser Antilles. Back Puerto Rican relief is fairly low by continent standards, the island sits much less than 100 miles (160 km) southern of a precipitous depression in earth’s crust: considerable submarine function of the Atlantic known as the Puerto Rico Trench, i m sorry descends to much more than 5 miles (8 km) listed below sea level—the Atlantic’s deepest point—at a site northeast that the Dominican Republic. Powerful tectonic forces that over countless years have created these attributes still occasionally cause earthquakes in Puerto Rico.


The island’s highest mountain range, the Cordillera Central, patterns east-west and exceeds 3,000 feet (900 metres) in countless areas; the slopes are somewhat gentle in the north however rise high solution from the south coast to the loftier peaks, topped at about 4,390 feet (1,338 metres) by Cerro de Punta, the highest suggest on the island. Near the island’s east tip, the partially isolated Sierra de Luquillo rises to 3,494 feet (1,065 metres) in ~ El Yunque Peak.

The northwestern foothills and lowlands are defined by karst features, including sinkholes (sumideros), caverns, and also eroded mogotes, or haystack hills (pepinos). There is a continuous but small lowland follow me the phibìc coast, wherein most human being live, and smaller bands along the south and west coasts that additionally include densely populated areas. The Caguas Basin, in the Grande de Loíza flow valley southern of san Juan, is the largest of several basins in the mountains that carry out level land because that settlements and also agriculture. The archipelago of Mona, Vieques, and Culebra are typically hilly however ringed by narrow coastal plains; Vieques rises to 988 feet (301 metres) at mountain Pirata.


Vieques Island
Beach top top Vieques Island, Puerto Rico.

Drainage and soils

None the Puerto Rico’s rivers is big enough for navigation, but several northward-flowing rivers are harnessed because that municipal water supplies, irrigation, and hydroelectricity, and also along the south shore irrigation is vital for agriculture. Puerto Rico’s precipitation mainly falls on the north-facing mountain slopes, therefore that most of the long-term rivers flow from the inner to the north and also west coasts, consisting of the Grande de Loíza, Grande de Arecibo, and also Grande de Añasco rivers—all the which room some 40 miles (65 km) long—and La Plata, which extends 46 mile (75 km). The river process on the south coast are dry most of the year, delivering water just after rainfall. Pockets of alluvial soils on the south coast are somewhat fertile, however all farmlands there are fertilized. Numerous formerly cultivated and also eroded areas in the mountains have actually been collection aside as woodland preserves.


Loíza River
Loíza River, eastern Puerto Rico.
David Sanchez

Climate

Puerto Rico has actually a tropic climate with small seasonal variation, back local conditions vary follow to elevation and also exposure to rain-bearing winds. Northeast profession winds lug heavy rainfall come the phibìc coast, if the south coastline is in a rain shadow. Mountain Juan receives around 60 inches (1,525 mm) of precipitation every year, whereas El Yunque height farther eastern receives 180 inches (4,570 mm), and Ponce on the south shore receives only 36 inch (914 mm). Rain drops each month that the year, but the heaviest precipitation occurs in between May and December. The average everyday temperature in the lowlands is about 78 °F (26 °C), but reasonably high humidity makes daytime temperatures feel warmer. Highland temperatures mean a couple of degrees lower. Hurricanes construct in the an ar between June and also November and occasionally traverse the island, consisting of a storm in 1899 that killed around 3,000 Puerto Ricans; other devastating however less lethal hurricanes occurred in 1928, 1932, 1956, 1989, 1998, and 2017.


El Yunque rainforest
El Yunque rainforest, Puerto Rico.

Plant and animal life

Plant life is abundant and varied. Tropical rainforests cover components of the north next of the island, and thorn and also scrub vegetation predominates ~ above the drier south side. Many of the island’s initial vegetation was gotten rid of through centuries of agricultural exploitation, specifically during the an initial two years of the 20th century, when farm settlers and also plantation employees destroyed huge tracts of coastal forest and used the wood for rail ties and also fuel. Although some woodlands have been replanted because the mid-20th century, introduced varieties of trees, shrubs, and grasses now predominate.

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The scarlet- and orange-flowered imperial poinciana, or flamboyant (Delonix regia), and also the afri tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata) are amongst the flowering tree that dot the mountains with spot of vivid colour versus a lush eco-friendly background. The Caribbean National forest in the Sierra de Luquillo south-east of san Juan preserves rare species of orchids and also the little green Puerto Rican parrot, an endangered species. Puerto Rico has much more than 200 species of birds, yet land animals are mainly confined come nonpoisonous snakes, lizards, mongooses, and also the coquí (Eleutherodactylus portoricensis), a frog whose surname is onomatopoeic with its call (“co-kee!”) and which has become a kind of national mascot. Many varieties the fish abound in the bordering waters, yet edible and inedible types mingle together, limiting advertisement fishing there.