Puerto Rico
(commonwealth associated with the US)
[Country Flag of Puerto Rico]
Transnational Issues
[Country map of Puerto Rico]

Puerto Rico


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

Geographic coordinates: 18 15 N, 66 30 W

Map references: Central America and the Caribbean

total: 9,104 sq km
land: 8,959 sq km
water: 145 sq km

Area—comparative: 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

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caribbean Sea 0 m
highest point: Cerro de Punta 1,338 m

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

Land use:
arable land: 4%
permanent crops: 5%
permanent pastures: 26%
forests and woodland: 16%
other: 49% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 390 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: periodic droughts

Environment—current issues: occasional drought has caused water levels in reservoirs to drop and has prompted water rationing

Environment—international agreements:
party to: NA
signed, but not ratified: NA

Geography—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


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Population: 3,857,070 (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 24% (male 483,268; female 461,632)
15-64 years: 65% (male 1,206,385; female 1,310,406)
65 years and over: 11% (male 171,889; female 223,490) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.68% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 16.7 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 8.08 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -1.83 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.92 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 12.09 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 74.2 years
male: 69.58 years
female: 79.11 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.03 children born/woman (1998 est.)

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

Ethnic groups: Hispanic

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

Languages: Spanish, English

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


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

Data code: RQ

Dependency status: commonwealth associated with the US

Government type: commonwealth

National capital: San Juan

Administrative divisions: none (commonwealth associated with the US); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the US Government, but 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 of the US 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)
cabinet: NA
elections: governor of Puerto Rico elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 5 November 1996 (next to be held 7 November 2000)
election results: Pedro ROSSELLO reelected governor of Puerto Rico; percent of vote - NA

Legislative branch: bicameral Legislative Assembly consists of the Senate (28 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) and the House of Representatives (54 seats; members are directly elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate—last held 5 November 1996 (next to be held 7 November 2000); House of Representatives—last held 5 November 1996 (next to be held 7 November 2000)
election results: Senate—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—PNP 19, PPD 8, PIP 1; House of Representatives—percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—PNP 37, PPD 16, PIP 1
note: Puerto Rico elects one representative to the US House of Representatives; elections last held 5 November 1996 (next to be held 7 November 2000); results - percent of vote by party—NA; seats by party—PNP 1 (Carlos Romero BARCELO)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, justices appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate; Superior Courts, justices appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate; Municipal Courts, justices appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate

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 Independence Party (PIP), Ruben BERRIOS Martinez; Puerto Rican Communist Party (PCP), leader(s) unknown

Political pressure groups and leaders: 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

International organization participation: Caricom (observer), ECLAC (associate), FAO (associate), ICFTU, Interpol (subbureau), IOC, WCL, WFTU, WHO (associate), WToO (associate)

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

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

Flag description: 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


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Economy—overview: Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. A diverse industrial sector has surpassed agriculture as the primary locus 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. 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 4 million tourists in 1993. The construction sector has been a key factor in recent economic growth.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$32.9 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 3% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$8,600 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 5.5% (1997 est.)

Labor force:
total: 1.3 million (1996)
by occupation: government 19%, manufacturing 13%, trade 17%, construction 5%, other 32%, unemployed 14% (1996)

Unemployment rate: 13% (FY96/97 est.)

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

Industries: pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, food products; tourism

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

Electricity—capacity: 4.465 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 17.34 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 4,548 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: livestock products, chickens; sugarcane, coffee, pineapples, plantains, bananas

total value: $22.9 billion (f.o.b. 1996)
commodities: pharmaceuticals, electronics, apparel, canned tuna, rum, beverage concentrates, medical equipment
partners: US 88% (1995 est.)

total value: $19.1 billion (c.i.f. 1996)
commodities: chemicals, clothing, food, fish, petroleum products
partners: US 62% (1995 est.)

Debt—external: $NA

Economic aid: none

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

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 July—30 June


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Telephones: 1.315 million (1994 est.)

Telephone system: modern system, integrated with that of the US by high-capacity submarine cable and Intelsat with high-speed data capability
domestic: digital telephone system with about 1 million lines (1990 est.); cellular telephone service
international: satellite earth station—1 Intelsat; submarine cable to US

Radio broadcast stations: AM 50, FM 63, shortwave 0
note: there were 118 radio stations in 1995

Radios: 2.6 million (1994 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 15 (1995)
note: cable television available with US programs (1990 est.)

Televisions: 973,000 (1994 est.)


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total: 96 km
narrow gauge: 96 km 1.000-m gauge, rural, narrow-gauge system for hauling sugarcane; no passenger service

total: 14,400 km
paved: 14,400 km
unpaved: 0 km (1996 est.)

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

Merchant marine: none

Airports: 30 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 21
over 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 9
under 914 m: 6 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 7 (1997 est.)


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Military branches: paramilitary National Guard, Police Force

Military—note: defense is the responsibility of the US

Transnational Issues

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Disputes—international: none