19 Facts About Puerto Rico You Probably Didn't Know — Spanish and Go (2023)

July 04, 2021 July 04, 2021/ Jim Fricker II

In this article you’ll learn some interesting facts about Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island and territory of the United States. Located approximately 1,000 miles off the coast of Florida, Puerto Rico is home to amazing beaches, welcoming locals, delicious food, and tons of opportunities for adventure. It’s one of the most underrated Spanish-speaking places you can visit.

To help you get familiar with this incredible destination, here are 19 things you probably didn’t know about Puerto Rico!

Table of Contents

    1. Puerto Rico’s Official Name

    The official name of Puerto Rico is the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or in Spanish "El Estado libre asociado de Puerto Rico" (free associated state of Puerto Rico).

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    2. Puerto Ricans Are Born US Citizens

    All Puerto Ricans are born US citizens. That has been the case since 1917. Prior to US acquisition of the island, Puerto Rico was part of the Spanish Empire.

    3. You Can Visit Without a Passport

    US citizens and residents can travel to Puerto Rico without a passport.

    4. It Has Hundreds of Beautiful Beaches

    Puerto Rico has almost 300 beaches, including some incredibly beautiful ones like Flamenco Beach in Culebra. We've also been to Vieques, and the beaches there are gorgeous as well.

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    5. Puerto Rico is a US Territory

    Puerto Rico has been an unincorporated US territory since 1898. That means residents cannot vote for the US president and are not represented in the US Congress.

    6. They Use the US Dollar

    The dollar is the official currency of Puerto Rico. Although many people here call it the peso, what they mean is the dollar.

    7. Puerto Rico is Bigger Than You Might Think

    If Puerto Rico were a state, it would be the 29th largest (by population). There are almost 3 million people here, although it can be hard to measure accurately as the population has been decreasing as more and more people relocate to the mainland.

    8. Puerto Rico’s Original Name is Borinquen

    The island's original name is Borinquen. It was given that name by the Taino, the indigenous population who lived on the island prior to the arrival of Spanish colonists. The Taino were declared extinct in 1550.

    9. Puerto Ricans Call Themselves "Boricuas”

    Since Puerto Rico used to be called Boringquen, the locals often refer to themselves as “Boricuas.” A common saying on the island is “Yo soy Boricua, pa'que tu lo sepas!” which means “I’m Puerto Rican, just so you know!” This phrase was popularized by a song of the same name by an artist called Taíno.

    10. Puerto Rico’s Official Languages are Spanish and English

    The three main languages spoken in Puerto Rico are English, Spanish, Spanglish. However, less than 10% of the population speaks English. We definitely noticed the mixing of the two languages here during our stay

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    11. The US Postal Service Operates on the Island

    The United States Postal Service (USPS) operates here just like the rest of the United States and you can get Amazon Prime. However, it takes a week to get things instead of just two days. That said, there’s still free shipping to an island which is pretty good!

    12. Puerto Rico is More Than One Island

    Puerto Rico isn't just one island. There are one hundred and forty-three islands, islets, and atolls that make up Puerto Rico. The main islands are Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques. Only these 3 islands are inhabited.

    13. Puerto Ricans Have Fought in Every US War Since Becoming a Territory

    That’s right! Puerto Ricans started defending the US ever since it became an incorporated territory of the US in 1898. Don’t forget that many people on the island fight for your liberties, even when they don’t have the same representation on the Federal level as a state.

    14. Puerto Rico Has No Voting Representation

    Puerto Ricans can't vote for president. This is the norm for US territories. Puerto Rico has one non-voting representative in congress.

    15. National Debt Per Capita is Less Than That of the US

    Puerto Rico has debt, but not as much as you might have heard. In the continental US, the debt per capita is around $70,000 per person. In Puerto Rico, it’s “only” $12,000.

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    16. Puerto Rico Has the Only Tropical Rainforest in the US

    Puerto Rico is home to the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System. It is called El Yunque National Forest and is one of the most visited places on the island. (Over 600,000 people visit each year).

    17. The Popular Sports Are Baseball, Boxing, and Basketball

    Puerto Rico's most popular sports are baseball, boxing, and basketball. I'd say baseball here is way more popular than football in the US.

    18. Its Mascot is a Tree Frog Called the Coqui

    Puerto Rico's unofficial mascot is a tiny tree frog native to the island called a coquí. You’ll hear them from dawn till dusk all over the island.

    19. Puerto Rico is Home to Bioluminescent Bays

    Puerto Rico is home to three out of the world's five bioluminescent bays. These are bays that naturally glow at night thanks to the microorganisms that live in them. We went to one of them (Mosquito Bay in Vieques) and it was absolutely incredible!

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    Puerto Rico is one of the most underrated travel destinations we’ve been to. With its beautiful weather, affordable prices, delicious food, and ease of travel from the continental US, Puerto Rico is a destination that should be on your travel list — even if you’re not interested in learning or practicing Spanish!


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    What are some facts about Spanish in Puerto Rico? ›

    Puerto Rico has developed a unique version of Spanish. The language was greatly influenced by Puerto Rico's history. Puerto Ricans integrated thousands of Taíno words, adopted some pronunciation habits from African dialects, and incorporated English words or phrases (known as "Spanglish") into the language.

    What are 3 things that Puerto Rico is known for? ›

    Puerto Rico is the world's leading rum producer; 80% of the rum consumed in the United States hails from the island. There is a counted number bioluminescent bays in the entire world. Puerto Rico is home three bioluminescent bays.

    What is Puerto Rico's nickname? ›

    Its nickname is "Isla del Encanto," or "Island of Enchantment," and on the surface, Puerto Rico seems to fulfill every paradisiacal promise made about it by glossy travel magazines.

    What did Puerto Ricans speak before Spanish? ›

    Even though the use of the Taíno language declined under Spanish colonization, Taíno traditions contributed to the everyday life and language development in Puerto Rico. Their food, music, dances, storytelling, and language became a part of Puerto Rican heritage.

    What are Puerto Ricans known for? ›

    Puerto Ricans are known for their warm hospitality, often considered very friendly and expressive to strangers. Greetings are often cordial and genuine.

    How do you say hello in Puerto Rico? ›

    ¡Hola, hola! Hey!

    What food is Puerto Rico known for? ›

    The vibrancy of Puerto Rican culture comes alive in its dishes, a celebration of flavors that visitors have the opportunity to indulge in. Some of the favorites are mofongo, tostones, pasteles, arroz con gandules, tembleque, and coquito.

    What is only found in Puerto Rico? ›

    The island's wildlife includes a variety of endemic species, which are found only in Puerto Rico and a few nearby islands. Other unique animals include the Puerto Rican parrot, the Puerto Rican boa, and the Puerto Rican broad-winged hawk, all of which are found only in Puerto Rico and a few nearby islands.

    How old is Puerto Rico? ›

    In 1508, Juan Ponce de León founded the first European settlement, Caparra, near a bay on the island's northern coast; Caparra was renamed Puerto Rico (or “rich port”) in 1521.

    What did Puerto Ricans invent? ›

    The pina colada was invented in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico (another claim was made at the San Juan Caribe Hilton bar). Puerto Rico produces and exports more rum than any other couhtry in the world. Salsa music was invented by Puerto Ricans and Cubans in New York City and was exported to the island.

    Do Puerto Ricans drink? ›

    Though Puerto Ricans drink various kinds of alcohol, the island is famous for its rum. There are plenty of local cocktails that use Puerto Rican rum.

    What is Puerto Rico's national animal? ›

    The Puerto Rican coqui (pronounced ko-kee) is a small arboreal frog that's brown, yellow, or green in color. Its scientific genus name—Eleutherodactylus—means “free toes” because, unlike many frogs, the coqui doesn't have webbed feet.

    What is Puerto Rico's national dish? ›


    Puerto Rico's national dish clearly has a Caribbean influence, like some of the other food made in the area, but the Puerto Ricans have made arroz con gandules their own with their incredibly delectable sofrito sauce.

    What is Puerto Ricans known for? ›

    Puerto Rico's culture is a colorful tapestry of old and new, mixing indigenous, Spanish, and African traditions. You'll find expressions of that culture all around the Island — from art museums to vibrant murals, from bomba dance lessons to lively festivals that fill the streets.

    What's famous about Puerto Rico? ›

    Puerto Rico is known for its beautiful beaches, and with 270 miles (434 km) of sandy shores, there's no shortage on which type of beach you'll find there. What is this? But, it's not just the amount of beachfront that makes Puerto Rico a favorite Caribbean destination; it is the quality and variety of them.


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