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Top Questions About Puerto Rico

Find quick answers to the top most frequently asked questions.

  1. Who were Puerto Rico's first inhabitants?

    Puerto Rico's first known inhabitants were the Taino Indians.

  2. What is the origin of the country's name?

    Taíno Indians who inhabited the territory, called the island Boriken or Borinquen which means: "the great land of the valiant and noble Lord" or "land of the great lords". Christopher Columbus discovered the island on Nov. 19, 1493, and gave it the name of San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist). Soon after the first Spanish settlement in 1508 at Caparra on the north coast, the island became known as San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico. The additional designation (meaning "rich port") referred to the large, protected harbor on the northern coast where the present capital is located and for its abundance of natural resources, specially gold. Later it became customary to call the city San Juan and to designate the island as Puerto Rico.

    Today, Borinquen and Boricua is often used to describe the island and Puerto Ricans.

  3. What language is spoken in Puerto Rico?

    Spanish and English are the official languages of Puerto Rico.

  4. What city is the capital of Puerto Rico?

    San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico.

  5. Is Puerto Rico part of the United States?
    (Is Puerto Rico a state in the United States? What country does Puerto Rico belong to? Is Puerto Rico an independent country?)

    Puerto Rico is considered a territory of the United States, therefore it is a possession of the United States. Its official name is the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico).

    Puerto Rico is not a state in the United States. Although, the latest non-biding referendum (held in June 11, 2017) favored statehood, 97% of cast ballots.

    Puerto Ricans have common citizenship, currency and defense. Although Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, residents of Puerto Rico pay no federal income tax (but neither can they vote in presidential elections). Over two million Puerto Ricans live in the United States, primarily in the northeast.

  6. Where is Puerto Rico located?
    (Where is Puerto Rico on the globe?)

    Puerto Rico is in the Caribbean region; the island is located between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, east of the Dominican Republic (about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) southeast of Miami, Florida). Latitude 18.5 - Longitude 66.9.

  7. Do I need a passport to go to Puerto Rico?

    As a U.S. citizen you do not required a passport. However, you are required to have other government identifying documents such as a drivers license.

  8. Is Puerto Rico an island?

    Although, often referred an island, Puerto Rico is an archipelago formed by the main island and smaller islands: Vieques, Culebra, and Isla de Mona.

  9. What do people eat in Puerto Rico?
    (What is the most popular food in Puerto Rico? Does Puerto Rico has its own cuisine?)

    Arroz con gandules y lechon is the most popular dish in Puerto Rico - yellow rice and pigeon peas with roasted pork. Asopao is also another popular dish, a hearty gumbo made with either chicken or shellfish.

    Puerto Rico's cuisine it is a unique tasty blend of Spanish, African, Taino and American influences that can be traced back to the Arawaks and Tainos.

  10. Where did the piña colada come from?

    The piña colada was born in Puerto Rico, made with cream of coconut, white Puerto Rican rum, and canned pineapple juice.

  11. What is the temperature like in Puerto Rico? What type of clothing should I wear?

    Puerto Rico averages a comfortable 80 degrees throughout the year so dress requirements are understandably casual. During the day shorts, and bathing suits (light clothing in general) are acceptable. An old pair of tennis shoes or plastic sandals is good to have for walking on the reef. In the evenings, many hotels ask the men to wear long pants, shirt, and not be barefooted. Casual shoes, thongs, jeans or slacks are quite acceptable for the men and a light sun dress, slacks or shorts for the ladies.

  12. When is the best time to visit the island?

    The best time of year to go to Puerto Rico depends on what you want to do while you are there. Although holiday seasons tend to be crowded and the summer can be quite hot and receive more rain.

    The peak tourist season is between December and April, but this has more to do with the climate in North America than anything else. Rates drop by 25% to 50% from April 15 to December 15 at many of the resorts that depend on international tourists. The best time to avoid the crowds is the low season between May and November.

  13. How about the people?

    Puerto Rico has a very big cultural diversity. White, black and others are well represented in our island.

  14. How to get there?

    By air: Puerto Rico is easy to get to and easy to move around in. Domestic and international flights are frequent due to the island's central location in the Caribbean.
    By sea: Puerto Rico is a port of call for several prestigious cruise lines.

  15. What vaccines are required to travel to Puerto Rico?

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends Hepatities A, Hepatities B, Rabies and Typhoid.

  16. What is the legal age for gambling?

    The legal gambling age is twenty-one.

  17. What is the legal age for drinking?

    Puerto Rico's legal drinking age is eighteen (18) years old.

  18. Is crime a problem in the country?

    As in any country there is crime. Puerto Ricans are a warm and friendly people, but we do ask that you exercise the usual measure of caution. According to FBI statistics, Puerto Rico has a lower violent crime rate than many US states including California, New York, Washington, Georgia, Florida and Texas.

  19. Are things expensive in Puerto Rico?

    Prices in Puerto Rico are comparable to prices in the United States.

  20. Is it safe to drink the water in Puerto Rico?

    Puerto Rico's tap water is safe to drink. It is held and meets the same requirements set by the EPA for the United States.

If you're planning a trip to Puerto Rico and you're a first time visitor looking here are some additional top travel tips.

Did You Know?

Puerto Rico is a very diverse region, with a mountain range, coastal plains, a desert and a rainforest.