Puerto Rico

Situated in the northeast of the Caribbean Sea is the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The name translates to “rich port.” A separate entity from the United States, the territory is made up of multiple islands; these include the mainland of Puerto Rico and the smaller islands of Culebra, Vieques and Mona. Altogether, the total population is roughly 3.4 million, with the capital of San Juan being the most populated city. English and Spanish are the main languages. According to American law, the government recognizes individuals born in Puerto Rico as citizens of the United States. Residents can freely travel between islands. During Christopher Columbus’ second voyage in 1493, he landed on the islands. Formerly inhabited by people of indigenous Taíno, Columbus claimed the lands; the Taíno culture and language did not survive. Throughout history, Puerto Rico has undergone numerous invasion attempts by the Dutch, British and French.


Puerto Rico is home to numerous flora and fauna species. The tropical environment and climate have led to the formation of multiple ecosystems, including terrestrial and aquatic. The resulting biodiversity supports many species that are endemic to the area, making the territory popular with biologists. Significant portions of terrestrial mammals inhabiting the islands are not native to Puerto Rico. Human interactions have introduced species such as goats, monkeys and cats to the area. A total of 349 species of bird reside on the islands, with humans introducing nearly half of all species. Warm temperatures, fertile soil and abundance of water provide the ideal conditions to support over 1,000 flora species. Many plant species are exclusive to the area, as a result of adaptation to the high humidity levels.