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Want to know more about Puerto Rico? Here are 25 Interesting Facts about Puerto Rico that you probably didn’t know before reading this!

To make this even more fun, I want to challenge you as well. How many of these Puerto Rico facts did you know before reading this? Share your result in the comment section!

1. Puerto Rico is not a country

Many people worldwide, including the U.S, thinks that Puerto Rico is a country. And while it could certainly be considered a country, there is one lacking part, it is governed by the United States, and is therefore not a sovereign state. 

In fact, Puerto Rico is not even an independent state, it is just a part of the Commonwealth and recognized as a U.S territory.

Puerto Rico facts

Photo: Shutterstock

2. The oldest churches in the Americas can be found in Old San Juan

Iglesia de San Jose is the oldest church in the Western Hemisphere that is still in use today. It was built in 1522 and has a classic Gothic Spanish architecture. 

The oldest church is the Catedral de San Juan, but due to lootings, attacks and hurricanes it got too damaged and was rebuilt into its current state. 

San Jose church

Photo: Zoran Karapancev / Shutterstock.com

3. The indigenous people are known as the Taino

Before the Europeans came to Puerto Rico, the main island was inhabited by Taino Indians. An ethnic group that populated almost all islands in the Caribbean. There was a famous revolt in 1511 when the Indian leaders conspired against the Spaniards.

However, the revolt ended brutally and many were killed by the Spanish military who was ruled by Juan Ponce de León. Today, there are only a few Puerto Ricans that have a Taino heritage.

Taino

Photo: Shutterstock

4. It was under Spanish rule for about 400 years

Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover Puerto Rico, and it didn’t take long before the Spanish Inquisition had arrived. In fact, this was the epicenter of the whole operation and Puerto Rico was also one of the last places to remain under Spanish rule. 

The Spanish rule lasted for almost 400 years, and it wasn’t until the Spanish-American war that the U.S took control. 

5. There are several uninhabited islands

Visitors can go by boat on a day trip to some of the nearby islands that are uninhabited by humans. Isla de Mona is one of the most famous uninhabited islands, and it has been compared to Galapagos. 

Some other popular islands are Cayo Icacos, Caja de Muertos, and Isla Palomino.

Cayo Icacos

Photo: Shutterstock

6. Cock-fighting is a popular sport that will be banned

In 2018, the congress voted in favor of banning cock-fighting in Puerto Rico and other U.S territories. For a long time, cock-fighting has been a popular sport on the island, and there has been an outcry after the law was passed. 

7. El Yunque is the only tropical rainforest in the U.S

Considering that El Yunque is located on a Caribbean island, it is quite massive with 28,000 acres of tropical palms and dense foliage. There are numerous hiking trails that you can explore, and the rainforest is home to some impressive animals and plants!

Don’t worry though, there are no poisonous snakes roaming El Yunque. It rains a lot though, 365 days a year and several times a day. 

El Yunque

Photo: Shutterstock

8. El Monstruo is one of the longest zip lines in the world

If you’re feeling adventurous, you would love to go for a ride at El Monstruo. It was once the longest zip line in the world, but nowadays it is ranked third with a distance of 8,300 ft (2 529 meters). 

While going for a ride you can reach speeds of up to 95 mph (152 km/h). 

9. The Bacardi rum factory is the world’s largest distillery

Bacardi and Don Q are the largest producers of Rum on the island, and its production goes back circa 400 years. The Bacardi Rum factory is the largest distillery in the world, and you can visit on a guided tour.

The Bacardi rum factory

Photo: Shutterstock

10. Spanish is the dominant language

This might not be one of the most surprising facts about Puerto Rico considering the Spanish colonization, but it is nonetheless interesting.

While Spanish is becoming more widespread in the U.S, in Puerto Rico it is the daily language used by the locals. English is still an official language together with Spanish but many locals don’t speak English fluently. 

11. There are about 270 miles of beaches

Puerto Rico is famous for its food, beautiful people, rum, and culture. But the beaches have also made this island archipelago famous. Many Americans come here to experience paradise, and rightly so. 

There are more than 270 miles of beaches in total, and some of them are regarded as the most beautiful beaches in the world. 

Puerto Rico Beach

Photo: Shutterstock

12. Puerto Ricans can’t vote in the U.S presidential elections

Even though Puerto Rico is considered a U.S Territory, the Puerto Ricans have their own citizenship since it’s not recognized as an individual state, thus they can’t vote for the president unless they have moved permanently to a U.S state.

It is part of the Commonwealth, and there are ongoing discussions if it should become an independent state or not. This is definitely one of the most interesting facts about Puerto Rico! 

13. Home to the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope

The Arecibo Observatory is the largest single-dish radio telescope in the world, and it’s open to visitors.

Arecibo telescope

Photo: Dennis van de Water / Shutterstock.com

14. Puerto Rican coffee is some of the best coffee in the world

The conditions for growing quality coffee is excellent on the main island, and there are various plantations that you can visit. 

15. San Juan has one of the busiest cruise ports in the world

More than 1.3 million cruise passengers arrived at the San Juan port in 2016 / 2017. It’s a popular cruise destination, and while most of the tourists come from the USA or Canada, there are a growing number of Asians and Europeans going on cruises here as well. 

Puerto Rico Cruise Ship

Photo: Shutterstock

5 x Fun Facts about Puerto Rico

  • Puerto Rico has won Miss Universe five times
  • Puerto Ricans do not pay income tax
  • The Piña colada is the official Puerto Rican drink
  • Ricky Martin, Daddy Yankee, Jennifer Lopez are all Puerto Ricans
  • Standing close to a person during a conversation and kissing them on their cheeks is considered a sign of respect
Miss Puerto Rico

Photo: Sek Samyan / Shutterstock.com

5 x Puerto Rico Facts for Kids

  • There is an endemic type of frog known as Coqui
  • Americans don’t need a passport to travel here
  • Castillo San Cristobal is a historic landmark in Old San Juan
  • Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory in 1898, following the Spanish-American War
  • The island is about the same size as Connecticut
Coqui

Photo: Shutterstock

General Facts about Puerto Rico

Below are some general info such as total population, land area, biggest lake, highest mountain and other general facts about Puerto Rico that might be interesting to know.

  • Total Population: 3,195,153
  • Capital: San Juan
  • Demonym: Puerto Rican
  • Life expectancy: 79,79 years
  • Highest Mountain: Cerro de Punta – 4,390 ft (1340 meters above the sea)
  • Land area: 9,104 km2 (3,515 sq mi)
  • Largest Lake: Laguna Tortuguero
  • Government: Commonwealth
  • Governor: Ricardo Rosselló 
  • Currency: United States dollar (USD)
  • Official language: Spanish and English
  • Anthem: La Borinqueña 
  • Time zone: UTC−4 (Atlantic)
  • Calling Code: +1-787, +1-939
  • Code: PR 
San Juan

Photo: Shutterstock

The Biggest Cities in Puerto Rico

If you’re looking for facts about Puerto Rico, it might also be interesting to know which are the biggest cities.

San JuanBayamón
CarolinaPonce
CaguasGuaynabo
MayaguezTrujillo Alto
AreciboFajardo

Flag of Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico flag

Map of Puerto Rico

Below you can see a map of the main island and smaller islands. Vieques and Isla de Culebra are popular places for tourists, and there are many beautiful beaches and nature to explore on those islands. 

Puerto Rico map

Photo: Shutterstock

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How many of these Puerto Rico Facts did you know beforehand? Share your result in the comment section below!