Puerto Rico (Spanish for "Rich Port"), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit. "Free Associated State of Puerto Rico") and briefly called Porto Rico, is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the northeast Caribbean Sea.
It is an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller ones such as Mona, Culebra, and Vieques. The capital and most populous city is San Juan. Its official languages are Spanish and English, though Spanish predominates. The island's population is approximately 3.4 million. Puerto Rico's rich history, tropical climate, diverse natural scenery, traditional cuisine, and attractive tax incentives make it a popular destination for travelers from around the world.
Originally populated by the indigenous Taíno people, the island was claimed in 1493 by Christopher Columbus for the Crown of Castile, and it later endured invasion attempts from the French, Dutch, and British. Four centuries of Spanish colonial government transformed the island's ethnic, cultural and physical landscapes primarily with waves of African captives, and Canarian, and Andalusian settlers. In the Spanish imperial imagination, Puerto Rico played a secondary, but strategic role when compared to wealthier colonies like Peru and Mexico. Such a distant administrative control continued right up until the end of the 19th century helping to produce a distinctive creole Hispanic culture and language that combined elements from the Natives, Africans, and Iberian people. In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, the United States appropriated Puerto Rico together with most former Spanish colonies under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.
Puerto Ricans are considered natural-born citizens of the United States. However, Puerto Rico does not have a vote in the United States Congress, which governs the territory with full jurisdiction under the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act of 1950. As a U.S. territory, American citizens residing on the island are disenfranchised at the national level and may not vote for president and vice president of the United States. However, Congress approved a local constitution, allowing U.S. citizens on the territory to elect a governor. A 2012 referendum showed a majority (54% of those who voted) disagreed with "the present form of territorial status", with full statehood as the preferred option among those who voted for a change of status, although a significant number of people did not answer the second question from the referendum. A fifth referendum will be held in June 2017, and "Statehood" and "Independence/Free Association" were initially the only available options. However, at the recommendation of the Department of Justice, a "current territorial status" option will be added.
In early 2017, the Puerto Rican government-debt crisis posed serious problems for the government. The outstanding bond debt that had climbed to $70 billion or $12,000 per capita at a time with 12.4% unemployment. The debt had been increasing during a decade long recession. Wikipedia