[Country map of Puerto Rico]

Puerto Rico

(commonwealth associated with the US)


Location: Caribbean, island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

total area: 9,104 sq km
land area: 8,959 sq km
comparative area: slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island

Land boundaries: 0 km

Coastline: 501 km

Maritime claims:
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm

International disputes: none

Climate: tropical marine, mild, little seasonal temperature variation

Terrain: mostly mountains with coastal plain belt in north; mountains precipitous to sea on west coast; sandy beaches along most coastal areas

Natural resources: some copper and nickel, potential for onshore and offshore crude oil

Land use:
arable land: 8%
permanent crops: 9%
meadows and pastures: 41%
forest and woodland: 20%
other: 22%

Irrigated land: 390 sq km (1989 est.)

current issues: the recent drought has caused water levels in reservoirs to drop and prompted water rationing for more than one-half of the population
natural hazards: periodic droughts
international agreements: NA

Note: important location along the Mona Passage - a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal; San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean; many small rivers and high central mountains ensure land is well watered; south coast relatively dry; fertile coastal plain belt in north


Population: 3,812,569 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 25% (female 466,596; male 489,127)
15-64 years: 65% (female 1,274,765; male 1,195,785)
65 years and over: 10% (female 213,716; male 172,580) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.16% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 15.92 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 7.47 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -6.81 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 12.8 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 75.1 years
male: 70.78 years
female: 79.66 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.98 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Puerto Rican(s) (US citizens)
adjective: Puerto Rican

Ethnic divisions: Hispanic

Religions: Roman Catholic 85%, Protestant denominations and other 15%

Languages: Spanish, English

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1980)
total population: 89%
male: 90%
female: 88%

Labor force: 1.2 million (1993)
by occupation: government 22%, manufacturing 17%, trade 20%, construction 6%, communications and transportation 5%, other 30% (1993)


conventional long form: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
conventional short form: Puerto Rico

Digraph: RQ

Type: commonwealth associated with the US

Capital: San Juan

Administrative divisions: none (commonwealth associated with the US); note - there are 78 municipalities

Independence: none (commonwealth associated with the US)

National holiday: US Independence Day, 4 July (1776)

Constitution: ratified 3 March 1952; approved by US Congress 3 July 1952; effective 25 July 1952

Legal system: based on Spanish civil code

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal; indigenous inhabitants are US citizens but do not vote in US presidential elections

Executive branch:
chief of state: President William Jefferson CLINTON (since 20 January 1993); Vice President Albert GORE, Jr. (since 20 January 1993)
head of government: Governor Pedro ROSSELLO (since 2 January 1993); election last held 3 November 1992 (next to be held 5 November 1996); results - Pedro ROSSELLO (PNP) 50%, Victoria MUNOZ (PPD) 46%, Fernando MARTIN (PIP) 4%

Legislative branch: bicameral Legislative Assembly
Senate: elections last held 3 November 1992 (next to be held 5 November 1996); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (29 total) PNP 20, PPD 8, PIP 1
House of Representatives: elections last held 3 November 1992 (next to be held NA November 1996); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (53 total) PNP 36, PPD 16, PIP 1
US House of Representatives: elections last held 3 November 1992 (next to be held 5 November 1996); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (1 total) PNP 1 (Carlos Romero BARCELO); note - Puerto Rico elects one representative to the US House of Representatives

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, Superior Courts, Municipal Courts

Political parties and leaders: National Republican Party of Puerto Rico, Luis FERRE; Popular Democratic Party (PPD), Hector ACEVEDO; New Progressive Party (PNP), Pedro ROSSELLO; Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PSP) has been disbanded (1994); Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), Ruben BERRIOS Martinez; Puerto Rican Communist Party (PCP), leader(s) unknown

Other political or pressure groups: Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN); Volunteers of the Puerto Rican Revolution; Boricua Popular Army (also known as the Macheteros); Armed Forces of Popular Resistance

Member of: CARICOM (observer), ECLAC (associate), FAO (associate), ICFTU, INTERPOL (subbureau), IOC, WCL, WFTU, WHO (associate), WTO (associate)

Diplomatic representation in US: none (commonwealth associated with the US)

US diplomatic representation: none (commonwealth associated with the US)

Flag: five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large white five-pointed star in the center; design based on the US flag


Overview: Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. Industry has surpassed agriculture as the primary sector 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. Important industries include pharmaceuticals, electronics, textiles, petrochemicals, and processed foods. 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 for the island, with estimated arrivals of nearly 3.9 million tourists in 1993.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $26.8 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 2.6% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $7,050 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2.9% (1994)

Unemployment rate: 16% (1994)

revenues: $5.1 billion
expenditures: $5.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY94/95)

Exports: $21.8 billion (1994)
commodities: pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates, medical equipment, instruments
partners: US 86.2% (1993)

Imports: $16.7 billion (1994)
commodities: chemicals, clothing, food, fish, petroleum products
partners: US 69.2% (1993)

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate 5% (1994 est.)

capacity: 4.230,000 kW
production: 15.6 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 3,819 kWh (1993)

Industries: manufacturing accounts for 39.4% of GDP; manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products, instruments; tourism

Agriculture: accounts for only 3% of labor force and just over 1% of GDP; crops - sugarcane, coffee, pineapples, plantains, bananas; livestock - cattle, chickens; imports a large share of food needs (1993)

Economic aid: none

Currency: 1 United States dollar (US$) = 100 cents

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June


total: 96 km rural narrow-gauge system for hauling sugarcane; note - no passenger railroads

total: 13,762 km
paved: 13,762 km (1982)

Ports: Guanica, Guayanilla, Guayama, Playa de Ponce, San Juan

Merchant marine: none

total: 31
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 3
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 9
with paved runways under 914 m: 14
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 2


Telephone system: NA telephones; modern system, integrated with that of the US by high capacity submarine cable and INTELSAT with high-speed data capability; digital telephone system with about 1 million lines; cellular telephone service (1990)
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: 1 INTELSAT earth station and submarine cable

broadcast stations: AM 50, FM 63, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 9; note - cable television available with US programs (1990)
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: paramilitary National Guard, Police Force

Note: defense is the responsibility of the US