Puerto Rico (English /ˌpɔːrtə ˈriːkoʊ/ or /ˌpwɛərtə ˈriːkoʊ/; Spanish: [ˈpweɾto ˈriko], locally also [ˈpwelto ˈχiko; ˈʀ̥iko]), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, literally the “Free Associated State of Puerto Rico”), is a United States territory located in the northeastern Caribbean. Puerto Rico is an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands. The capital and largest city is San Juan. The territory does not observe daylight saving time, and its official languages are Spanish, which is predominant, and English. The island’s population is approximately 3.4 million.
Puerto Rico’s rich history, tropical climate, diverse natural scenery, renowned traditional cuisine and attractive tax incentives make it a popular destination for visitors from around the world. Its location in the Caribbean, combined with centuries of colonization and subsequent migration, has made Puerto Rican culture a distinct melting pot of Amerindian, Spanish, African, and North American influences.
Originally populated by the aboriginal Taíno people, the island was claimed in 1493 by Christopher Columbus for the Kingdom of Spain, enduring several invasion attempts by the French, Dutch, and British. During the four centuries of Spanish rule, the island’s cultural and physical landscapes were transformed, with European knowledge, customs, and traditions being introduced, especially Roman Catholicism and the Spanish language. In 1898, following the Spanish–American War, Spain ceded the island to the United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.
Puerto Ricans are natural-born citizens of the United States. Puerto Rico does not have a vote in the U.S. 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 the President and Vice President of the United States. However, the territory operates under a local constitution, allowing its citizens to elect a governor.
A 2012 referendum showed a majority (54% of the electorate) disagreed with “the present form of territorial status,” with full statehood as the preferred option among those who voted for a change of status. Following this vote, the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico enacted a concurrent resolution to request the President and the Congress of the United States to end the current status and to begin the process to admit Puerto Rico to the Union as a State. As of 2016, Puerto Rico remains an unincorporated U.S. territory.