Puerto Rico is unique in that it is an autonomous Commonwealth of the United States, and its people think of the island as un estado libre asociado, or a "free associate state" of the United States—a closer relationship than the territorial possessions of Guam and the Virgin Islands have to America. S House of Representatives by a resident commissioner, which for many years was a nonvoting position. Because of the Puerto Rico's commonwealth status, Puerto Ricans are born as natural American citizens.

Puerto Ricans have their own constitution and elect their own bicameral legislature and governor but are subject to U. Therefore all Puerto Ricans, whether born on the island or the mainland, are Puerto Rican Americans.

On November 1, 1950, as part of the uprising, two Puerto Rican nationalists carried out an armed attack on Blair House, which was being used as a temporary residence by U. After the 1959 Communist revolution in Cuba, Puerto Rican nationalism lost much of its steam; the main political question facing Puerto Ricans in the mid-1990s was whether to seek full statehood or remain a Commonwealth. Early Puerto Rican residents on the mainland included Eugenio María de Hostos (b.

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Because of its location, Puerto Rico was a popular target of pirates and privateers during its early colonial period.

For protection, the Spanish constructed forts along the shoreline, one of which, El Morro in Old San Juan, still survives.

The island of Puerto Rico (formerly Porto Rico) is the most easterly of the Greater Antilles group of the West Indies island chain.

Located more than a thousand miles southeast of Miami, Puerto Rico is bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean, on the east by the Virgin Passage (which separates it from the Virgin Islands), on the south by the Caribbean Sea, and on the west by the Mona Passage (which separates it from the Dominican Republic).

These fortifications also proved effective in repelling the attacks of other European imperial powers, including a 1595 assault from British general Sir Francis Drake.

In the mid-1700s, African slaves were brought to Puerto Rico by the Spanish in great numbers.

Intermarriage had become a common practice among the three ethnic groups. Congress established a civil government on the island. government instituted measures to resolve the various economic and social problems of the island, which even then was suffering from overpopulation.

As a result of the Spanish-American War of 1898, Puerto Rico was ceded by Spain to the United States in the Treaty of Paris on December 19, 1898. Seventeen years later, in response to the pressure of Puerto Rican activists, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act, which granted American citizenship to all Puerto Ricans. Those measures included the introduction of American currency, health programs, hydroelectric power and irrigation programs, and economic policies designed to attract U. industry and provide more employment opportunities for native Puerto Ricans. Naval bases were built in San Juan Harbor and on the nearby island of Culebra.

The record high and low temperatures recorded in San Juan, Puerto Rico's northeastern capital city, are 94 degrees and 64 degrees, respectively. This represents a three-fold increase since 1899—and 810,000 of those new births occurred between the years of 19 alone. Approximately 70 percent of the population is white and about 30 percent is of African or mixed descent.

As in many Latin American cultures, Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion, but Protestant faiths of various denominations have some Puerto Rican adherents as well. presidential election, however, the Puerto Rican delegate was granted the right to vote on the House floor.

The name Puerto Rico, meaning "rich port," was given to the island by its Spanish conquistadors (or conquerors); according to tradition, the name comes from Ponce de León himself, who upon first seeing the port of San Juan is said to have exclaimed, "¡Ay que puerto rico! A peaceful agricultural people, the Arawaks on the island of Puerto Rico were enslaved and virtually exterminated at the hands of their Spanish colonizers.