Puerto Rico, established as a United States Commonwealth in 1952, enjoys all the major benefits of a formal state without sacrificing its distinct Spanish heritage and Latin culture. The island uses U.S. currency, abides by federal laws, and offers financing opportunities similar to the mainland.
The nearby neighborhood of Old San Juan is a remarkable centuries-old residential and commercial district where you’ll find more than 400 carefully restored 16th- and 17th-century Spanish colonial buildings, a number of small museums, and marvelous restored forts. A diverse collection of gourmet restaurants, galleries, shops, jewelry stores, and cafes make it a great place to walk around in and savor the Spanish colonial atmosphere.
Tropical marine, mild; little seasonal temperature variation
Average of 74 F (23 C) in the winter, 81 F (27 C) in the summer
3,725,789 (2010 Census.)
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
Name: San Juan
UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Based on Spanish civil code and within the US Federal system of justice
The US dollar, it is often referred to as the “peso”
Puerto Rico is the easternmost of the Greater Antilles and the fourth largest island in the Caribbean after Cuba, Hispaniola (which comprises the Dominican Republic and Haiti), and Jamaica. The Island is located at the crossroads between North and South America, at just 3.5 hours airtime from New York, 60 minutes from Caracas, and at only 4 days sailing from Atlantic ports in the US and ports in the Gulf of Mexico. The Puerto Rican territory includes other three small islands (Vieques, Culebra and Mona), as well as numerous islets and keys.
Puerto Rico has the best of both worlds. On one hand a spectacular island with over 300 miles of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, coupled with a developed economy, a highly efficient, state-of-the-art infrastructure, finest medical facilities in the Caribbean, the Historic Old San Juan, the oldest settlement within the US dating back to the 16th century and its warm and friendly people that embraces all visitors.
(Spanish: Viejo San Juan) is the oldest settlement within the territory of the United States and it is the historic colonial section of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is located on a small island connected to the mainland of Puerto Rico by two bridges and a causeway. The city is characterized by its narrow cobblestone streets and colorful buildings, which date back to the 16th and 17th century when Puerto Rico was a Spanish possession.
Several defensive structures and notable forts, such as the emblematic Fort San Felipe del Morro, Fort San Cristóbal, and El Palacio de Santa Catalina, also known as La Fortaleza, acted as the primary defenses of the settlement which was subjected to numerous attacks. La Fortaleza continues to serve also as the executive mansion for the Governor of Puerto Rico.
El Yunque National Forest, formerly known as the Caribbean National Forest is located in the rugged Sierra de Luquillo, 40km southeast of San Juan. It gets its name from the indian spirit Yuquiyu, which means “Forest of Clouds”. El Yunque is the rainiest of all the National Forests with up to 240 inches per year. The Forest contains rare wildlife including the Puerto Rican Parrot, which is one of the ten most endangered species of birds in the world. Approximately 50 other bird species are found on the Forest, which serves as a wildlife refuge; no hunting is allowed. So amazing it is indeed, that it was recently selected as a finalist during the “7 Wonders of Nature” competition, from among an outstanding group of 261 nature venues from all around the world. It is also known for having the highest quality waters in Puerto Rico. Because it is a mountainous rainforest, there are plenty of streams, creeks, and rivers crossing it. The steepness of the terrain provides numerous lovely cascades, including the wonderful “La Coca Falls”, the first spectacular feature seen by the visitor traveling up to the Forest.
Puerto Rico has become one of the few exotic destinations Americans may travel to without a passport. As part of the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, all Americans traveling by air or by sea to or from Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Bermuda and Caribbean will be required to have a passport or other secure, accepted document to enter o re-enter the U.S. As part of the United States of America, Puerto Rico is exempted from this new law.
Citizens of other countries have the same requirements as for entering the USA. Potential visitors must first obtain a visa, either a non-immigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence.
The San Juan International Airport is the leading regional airlift and handles 4,300 cargo flights per month and over 1,800 weekly flights for more than 20 cities in the US and several international destinations in the Caribbean, North America, South America and Europe with two major airports serving the West and East coast. Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport ranked 34th among passenger airports in the U.S.
There are non-stops flights readily available from more than 20 gateway cities in the U.S., with an average flight time of three hours. You can be working in New York in the morning and enjoy an incredible sunset in Bahía in the afternoon. Bahía is a short drive from San Juan, 25 minutes away from the International Airport. No hassles associated with entry or re-entry to the continental U.S.
The Puerto Rico Convention Center is the largest in the Caribbean and the most technologically advanced throughout both the Caribbean and Latin America. Boasting 580,000 square feet of total space, the Center can accommodate groups of up to 10,000, in an ideal setting at the gateway to all the Island has to offer.
Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. A diverse industrial sector has far 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.
Passenger movement- inbound: 4,863,000
Occupancy rate: 65.5% Cruise ship visitors- 1,392,600 (2008 est.) 1.2 million passengers per year.
Main airport: Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport Location: About nine miles from Old San Juan
Airlines that serve Puerto Rico: American Airlines, Air Tran, Southwest, West Jet, Air Canada, Condor, Avianca, Jet Blue, Delta, United, US Airways, Spirit, Sun Country Airlines, LIAT, Cape Air, Seaborne, among others. Principal US destinations: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas/ FortWorth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Hartford, Houston, Los Angeles, Memphis, Miami, Minneapolis/ St. Paul, Newark, New York-JFK, Orlando, Philadelphia, Tampa, Washington-Dulles.
Puerto Rico is the Caribbean’s capital of gastronomic tourism. Visitors experience the rich and enticing flavors that this culinary melting pot has to offer. The Island’s chefs are exceptionally talented men and women who have gained worldwide recognition by breaking culinary paradigms and pushing beyond traditional boundaries. Impeccable taste and delighting creativity have earned them numerous national and international distinctions, among them the Top Chef Awards, La Grand Medaille d’Honneur, the Chef’s Hat Awards, and the National Chef Awards. The presence and strong influence of renowned and prestigious international restaurants such as Jean-Georges, BLT, Morton’s of Chicago and Il Molino, have also contributed to the development of a new culinary language, thus making the dining experience another great highlight when visiting the Island.
Amazingly, considering the difficulties many industries have encountered due to the economic situation all around the world, the real estate business in Puerto Rico is stable. More than ever, people are looking for some piece of mind, and it seems that Puerto Rico fits perfectly with the highest standards of living.
Close to 4 million people live on the “Island of Enchantment,” with more than a million in the greater San Juan metropolitan area alone. It is a vibrant, modern, bilingual, multicultural society, one that has been molded by Spanish, African, Indian and U.S. influences. Residents of Puerto Rico have much in common with their fellow Americans in the continental United States, yet they retain a decidedly Hispanic heritage.
San Juan is the Island’s shopping Mecca. Plaza las Américas, the Caribbean’s largest and most modern shopping center with over 300 stores, is located here. There are various shopping centers and two big factory outlet malls around the Island. In Puerto Rico there are the same big retail brands than in the U.S.
Puerto Rico has a great variety of entertainment options for all ages and tastes. From breath-taking golf courses around the Island, to enjoyable casinos and exciting nightclubs. There are various discos at Isla Verde and modern chic hotel lobbies at Condado. If you want to hang out with the locals, La Placita, in Santurce, turns into an all-out street fest at night on the weekends. Old San Juan offers exciting entertainment, including restaurants, clubs and shops. Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian and the San Juan Culinary Week are just a few of the special events held periodically at this historic city.