Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island and unincorporated US territory. It is also a perfect mix of cultures and languages. Spanish, African, Caribbean and North American influences meet in this fascinating archipelago, right in the heart of the Greater Antilles. Here, MusicSnake Magazine put together a list of top 14 interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Puerto Rico.
Number One: Puerto Rico Has the Best Rum in the World
You can’t talk about Puerto Rico without giving a shout out to rum. Rum production has contributed notably to Puerto Rico’s economic development since the 16th century. In fact, around 70 percent of the rum consumed in the United States is imported from Puerto Rico. If you visit the island, keep in mind that some distilleries, like Bacardi and Don Q, offer free tours and drinks.
Number Two: Christopher Columbus Never Returned to Puerto Rico
He arrived in Puerto Rico on his second trip to the Americas and claimed the archipelago for Spain. Christopher Columbus might not have been very impressed by what he saw because he never returned.
Number Three: Highest Density of Vehicles
At 0.6 vehicles per capita or 4,300 vehicles per paved mile, Puerto Rico has the highest density of vehicles in the world. No other nation in the world surpasses Puerto Rico in number of cars per square mile.
Number Four: The Island is Actually Pretty Small
The main island, with an area of 3,515 square miles (9,104 square kilometers), is the second smallest of the Greater Antilles after the Cayman Islands, Cuba being the largest. Puerto Rico is roughly the size of Connecticut, and they both share a similar population. Despite all of that, Puerto Rico is still the third biggest island in the United States after Hawaii’s Big Island and Alaska’s Kodiak Island.
Number Five: San Juan’s Cobblestones Come from Spain
Most streets in old San Juan are paved with cobblestones. These cobblestones, or ado quines in Spanish, actually do come from the European country that once ruled Puerto Rico. Most cobblestones, which are now being replaced, were brought into the island from Spain on ships.
Number Six: Spanglish Was Invented Here
The term Spanglish (o Inglañol), used to designate a sort of hybrid language by mixing Spanish and English, was first coined by Puerto Rican journalist Salvador Tió, in the late 1940’s. Tió noted how many Puerto Ricans were unconsciously giving up their mother tongue, Spanish, in order to learn English as a result of massive immigration to English-Speaking cities, such as New York and Miami.
Number Seven: San Juan Is the Oldest Capital in the US
Puerto Rico’s capital city was founded in 1521, making it the oldest in US territory. It’s also the second oldest European-established capital city in the American continent, after Dominican Republic’s Santo Domingo.
Number Eight: Graffiti Covered Tanks Are Rotting on a Beach
Flamenco beach, in Puerto Rico’s Culebra Island, used to be a United States Navy training site during WWII. Once the war was over, a bunch of tanks were left behind and are now rusting in the sun. The peculiar beach tank graveyard has been vandalized by locals and visitors, but still remains one Puerto Rico’s best kept secret.
Number Nine: The Legal Drinking Age There Is 18
Even though Puerto Rico is technically a US territory, some things just work differently here. For starters, the legal drinking age is 18 y.o. – the same as in most of European countries.
Number Ten: One of The Islands is Inhabited by Iguanas
The Mona Island, the 3rd largest island in Puerto Rico, has no native inhabitants…except for a large colony of iguanas. This particular species of iguana, the “mona ground iguana”, cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Number Eleven: Ten Miles of Caves
The Rio Camuy Cave Park is a natural cave system in Northwestern Puerto Rico. Over 220 caves can be explored here. So far, only seventeen entrances have been mapped out, but experts believe there must be at least 800 more undiscovered caves in the system.
Number Twelve: The Only Rainforest in US Territory
El Yunque National Forest is a national park located in Northeastern Puerto Rico, and it’s the only rainforest in the U.S. It’s also the largest piece of public land in the territory with 28,000 acres.
Number Thirteen: Puerto Rico Owes its Name to Gold
The original name of the island was “Borikén”, but, as always, the Spaniards burst in and changed everything. Apparently, Spanish colonizers found so much gold in the island everyone simply started calling it “Puerto Rico”, which translates to “Rich Port”. Puerto Ricans still call themselves “boricuans”.
Number Fourteen: Biggest Pharmaceutical Complex in the World
Fourteen different industries put together the world’s biggest pharmaceutical complex, located in Barceloneta. The water in this city is so pure very little treatment is needed for it to be used in pharmaceutical products.
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