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Puerto Rico (the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico) is an unincorporated US territory in the Greater Antilles due east of the Dominican Republic. It comprises the so-called Spanish Virgin Islands including Puerto Rico and many smaller islands. The largest are Vieques, Culebra and Mona.

Originally populated by Taíno tribes people, the island was claimed in 1493 by Columbus for Spain. It was first settled in 1508 and Spain ruled until 1898 despite invasions by other European nations. Spain realised its strategic importance (along with Cuba) and in 1809 it was recognised as an overseas province. Immigration of Europeans was encouraged to offset flourishing independence movements.

In 1898, during the Spanish–American War, the USA invaded and Spain was forced to cede it (with the Philippines and Guam) under the Treaty of Paris. In the early 20th century, it was ruled by the military with officials appointed by the USA President but by 1917 had been given more local powers. In 1948 its governor was elected for the first time and a Constitution was approved in 1952.

It has become a tourist destination as well as a global centre for pharmaceuticals and other manufacturing but has built up huge public sector debts which will lead to bankruptcy.

Puerto Rico is mostly mountainous with coastal plains in the north and south. It is part of the Caribbean island arc lying at the boundary between the Caribbean and North American plates. Cretaceous to Eocene volcanics and granites are overlain by younger carbonates. It is now volcanically inactive but subject to continued faulting.

No oil or gas has been produced in Puerto Rico. Due to the lack of seals to potential reservoirs and to recent faulting that would have disrupted older accumulations, the country has no identified indigenous oil or gas resources, either onshore or offshore. Globalshift believes it is unlikely to achieve any commercial production in the future.

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Puerto Rico

Capital: San Juan

Population: 4 million     

Puerto Rico has a republican form of government subject to sovereignty of the USA. Current powers are delegated by the US Congress and the head of state is the President of the USA. The governor and legislators are elected every four years. It is represented in the US Congress by a nonvoting delegate.

The nature of Puerto Rico's political relationship with the US is the subject of ongoing debate.


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Brief history of the territory (USA)

Central America

Puerto Rico Government and NOCs