About Puerto Rico

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Flag of Puerto Rico

The Flags of Puerto Rico represent and symbolize the island and people of Puerto Rico. The most commonly used flags of Puerto Rico are the current flag which represents the people of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; municipal flags which represent the different regions of the island; political flags which represent the political beliefs of the people and sports flags which identify Puerto Rico as the country represented by its athletics during competitions.

The origins of the current flag of Puerto Rico, adopted by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in 1952, can be traced to 1868, when the first Puerto Rican flag, “The Revolutionary Flag of Lares”, was conceived by Dr. Ramón Emeterio Betances and embroidered by Mariana “Brazos de Oro” Bracetti. This flag was used in the short lived Puerto Rican revolt against Spanish rule in the island, known as “El Grito de Lares”.

Juan de Mata Terreforte, an exiled veteran of “El Grito de Lares” and Vice-President of Puerto Rican Revolutionary Committee, in New York City, adopted the Flag of Lares as the flag of Puerto Rico until 1892, when the current design, modeled after the Cuban flag, was unveiled and adopted by the committee. The new flag, which consisted of five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large, white, five-pointed star in the center, was first flown in Puerto Rico on March 24, 1897, during the “Intentona de Yauco” revolt. The use and display of the Puerto Rican flag was outlawed and the only flags permitted to be flown in Puerto Rico were the Spanish flag (1492 to 1898) and the flag of the United States (1898 to 1952).

In 1952, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico adopted the same flag design, which was unveiled in 1892 by the Puerto Rican Revolutionary Committee, as its official standard without specifying the tones of colors to be used. The color of the triangle that was used by the administration of Luis Muñoz Marín was the dark blue that is used in the flag of the United States, instead of the original light blue, thus creating a political controversy which has lasted throughout the years. In 1995, the government of Puerto Rico, issued a regulation in regard to the use of the Puerto Rican flag titled: “Reglamento sobre el Uso en Puerto Rico de la Bandera del Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico” in which the government specifies the colors to be used but, does not specify any official color tones or shades. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see the Flag of uerto Rico with different shades of blue displayed in the island. Several Puerto Rican flags were aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery during its flight into outer space on March 15, 2009.

Each of the 78 municipalities of Puerto Rico have adopted flags which represent the region and its people. Most of the designs of these flags derive their symbolism from the regions Coat of Arms. Most of the political parties in Puerto Rico also have their own flags, which represent and symbolize the political ideals of its members. These flags are usually displayed in public during rallies, meetings, or parades in show of political strength and unity. Various sports associations in Puerto Rico have adopted flags which represent them and which are also used during competitions and sports events.

Information Source: Wikipedia.com

The Puerto Rico Coat of Arms

The figures we see on the Coat of Arms of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico are inspired on those that appear on the Coat of Arms which the Spanish Crown granted to the Island of Puerto Rico at the beginning of the XVI Century. It was first recognized by King Ferdinand by virtue of Royal Decree on November 8, 1511, but it wasn’t until March 9, 1905 that a law, establishing the official Coat of Arms was signed. It is the only one in Latin America still in official use since the conquest.

The predominant color on the background is the green, it is known that this color was used at the beginnings of the Christian era in allusion to Saint John the Baptist, as a symbol of the grass or vegetation when he would preach in the deserted jungle of Judea. Within the background there is a white lamb on top of the Book of Revelations, holding the seven seals of The Apocalypse of Saint John the Apostle. The lamb represents purity which corresponds to the figure of the Lamb of God, the Agnus dei, identified as Jesus Christ. The lamb holds a white flag with a red cross, the “Cross of Jerusalem” used by the monarchs to expel the “non-Christians” from the Spanish peninsula.

The rim is covered by 16 symbols: 4 castles signifying the “Kingdom of Castilla”, 4 lions, representing the “Kingdom of Leon”, both, lions and castles, represents the unity of both kingdoms, 4 flags, and 4 crosses of Jerusalem are symbols of Saint John the Baptist.

The crown on top symbolizes the “Royalty” who authorized this shield. To the right, an “F” for Fernando, to the left, a “Y” for Ysabel, who were over the crown (King and Queen of the Spanish Empire) when Puerto Rico was discovered, evoke the great pioneering efforts. The quiver of arrows and yoke represent ideograms for the initials of the Catholic Kings, F and Y.

The inscription reads “JOHANNES EST NOMEN EJUS” or “Juan (John) is its name”, as Puerto Rico was originally called San Juan (Saint John), which today is the name of the capital city.

The use of the Coat of Arms of Puerto Rico is governed by certain Regulations promulgated by the Secretary of State of Puerto Rico on May 2, 1960, according to Act No. 7 of August 8, 1952, of the Legislature, amended by Law 143 of June 3, 1976.

Information Source: topuertorico.org

Image Source: National Geographic Society

Demographic Information:

Location:

· Caribbean, island 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).

Geographic Coordinates:

· Latitude: 18 15 N   Longitude: 66 30 W

Total Area:

· 9,104 sq km (3,508 sq mi)

· The maximum length from east to west (from Punta Puerca to Punta Higuero) of 180 km (110 mi) and with a maximum width from north to south (from Isabella to Punta Colón) of 65 km (40 mi).

Interesting Fact

· 70.8% of the world’s surface is water, 29.2% is land

Land Area:

· 8,959 sq km

· Comparative area: approximately three times the size of Rhode Island.

Water Area:

· 145 sq km

Map References:

· Central America and the Caribbean.

Limits:

· To the west by Haití and the Dominican Republic (La Hispañola), separated by the Mona Passage (“Mona Canal”), to the east by the Virgin Islands, to the north by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Caribbean Sea.

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Interesting Fact

Puerto Rico is close to the deepest submarine depression in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Puerto Rico Trench, roughly parallel to the northern coast of the island of Puerto Rico and lying about 75 miles (120 km) to the north. The Puerto Rico Trench is about 1,090 miles (1,750 km) long and 60 miles (100 km) wide.

The deepest point in the Atlantic Ocean, the Milwaukee Depth, lies within the Puerto Rico Trench, at a depth of 27,493 feet (8,380 meters) in the western end of the trench, about 100 miles (160 km) northwest of Puerto Rico. The origin of the trench can be traced back to the beginning of the Tertiary period.

The Puerto Rico Trench appears to be part of a complex system of sinistral strike-slip faults in the north Caribbean; the trench seems to have been opened continuously for about 70 million years. It is partially filled with sediments.  The Caribbean’s greatest known depth is Cayman Trench (Bartlett Deep) between Cuba and Jamaica, at approximately 25,216 feet (7,686 meters) below sea level.

Puerto Rico is close to the deepest submarine depression in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Puerto Rico Trench, roughly parallel to the northern coast of the island of Puerto Rico and lying about 75 miles (120 km) to the north. The Puerto Rico Trench is about 1,090 miles (1,750 km) long and 60 miles (100 km) wide.

Land boundaries:

·         0 km.

Coastline:

·         501 km.

Borders:

·         Puerto Rico is under the U.S. customs jurisdiction. Borders are open between P.R. and the U.S., allowing for free movement of people and merchandise.

Maritime Claims:

·         Continental shelf: 200 NM (depth)

·         Exclusive economic zone: 200 NM

·         Territorial sea: 12 NM

Capital: San Juan (founded in 1508, by Juan Ponce de León).

·         Administrative Divisions: None (Commonwealth associated with the U.S.); there are no first-order administrative divisions as defined by the U.S. Government, but there are 78 municipalities. Municipalities are further subdivided into barrios, and those into sectors. Other territories include: Mona (5,517 hectares), Monito (15 hectares), Desecheo (122 hectares), and Caja de Muertos (202 hectares). Numerous other small cays lie offshore of Puerto Rico.

Interesting Facts

·         A municipality (municipio) is an administrative local area generally composed of a clearly defined territory and commonly referring to a city, town, or village government. In Puerto Rico, a municipality is a city and the government unit that is the primary legal subdivision; each municipality has an elected mayor. However, the Census Bureau treats the municipio as the statistical equivalent of a county.

·         Mona and Monito Islands are located between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. These small islands are considered the Galápagos Islands of the Caribbean Sea. No other reef and offshore island habitat within U.S. jurisdiction possesses such ecological uniqueness, invaluable habitat, and biological diversity within such a reduced surface area. For these reasons, Mona and Monito Islands have been recognized by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico as a Natural Reserve. The islands are a critical habitat of endangered marine turtles, sea birds and occasional migratory marine mammals.

Political Division:

·         8 senatorial districts, 40 representative districts, 78 municipalities.

Major Cities:

·         Ponce, Caguas, Mayagüez, Bayamón, Carolina, Arecibo, Guaynabo, Cayey, Aguadilla, and Fajardo.

Most Popular City Destinations:

·         San Juan, Ponce, Mayagüez, Bayamón, Fajardo, San Germán Cayey, and Caguas.

Time Zone:

·         Atlantic Standard (AST), which is one hour later (+1) than Eastern Standard Time (EST) and four hours earlier (-4) than Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Puerto Rico does not observe Daylight Savings Time.

Sunrise/Sunset Average:

·         6:54 am to 6:21 pm

·         Because of the latitude of Puerto Rico the sun is high overhead all year, there are no great variations from day to day between the times of sunrise and sunset.

Language:

·         Spanish and English are the official languages, but Spanish is without a doubt the dominant language.

·         English is spoken by about 1/4 of the population-with limited capabilities. English is required in all federal matters. English is spoken in all major tourist areas (%80 Spanish, %20 other).

Interesting Fact

·         Spanish or Castilian (español or castellano) is, like French, Portuguese, Italian, an Iberian Romance language, derived from Latin. Spanish is a phonetic language, words are pronounced exactly as they are spelled.

·         According to Ethnologue Spanish is the second language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese and ahead of English. Spanish is spoken by more than 400 million people worldwide, primarily in Spain and Latin America. Spanish is the official language in 24 countries, with over 323 million native speakers, Puerto Rico accounts for less than 4 million (figure from the 15th Edition of the Ethnologue). With such large geographic expanse the Spanish language has developed many local variations or dialects.

·         These variations are the result of different regions and countries integration of their local history and culture – creating differences in concepts, usage, idioms and vocabulary; and distinct accents. 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.

·         Puerto Ricans can understand Spanish speakers from other countries, while there may be some differences, such differences are not excessive and does not obstruct communication. Language has been a central issue in Puerto Rican education and culture since 1898. Until 1930 U.S. authorities insisted upon making English the language of instruction in the schools, the intent being to produce English-speaking persons of American culture in the same way this is done in the United States public schools. But strong resistance to the policy finally brought a change to the use of Spanish as the basic school language, English becoming a second language studied by all.

·         In 1991 the Puerto Rican legislature, following the lead of the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party and the governor, Rafael Hernández Colon, endorsed a bill that made Spanish the island’s official language, thus reversing a 1902 law that gave both Spanish and English official recognition. In 1993 the pro-statehood governor, Pedro J. Rossello, signed legislation restoring equal status to Spanish and English.

National Holiday: November 19 (The Discovery of Puerto Rico date).

·         All U.S. government holidays are celebrated in Puerto Rico. Additionally, there are nine local holidays, which usually honor important leaders or events in the island’s history. Government offices, banks, the post office and most stores are closed on the official holidays.

National Hymn (Anthem): “La Borinqueña”

·         The national hymn reflects the character of the people very accurately. The air, “La Borinqueña “, recalls the island’s Indian past. It was originally a dance measure. Now in a slower tone, and the orchestration of Ramón Collado, the Puerto Rican anthem has a gracious, melancholic tone, agreeably free of the bombast that often characterizes national anthem.

National Bird:

·         Stripe-headed tanager (spyndalis zena) (“reina mora”)

National Flower:

·         Puerto Rican hibiscus (Thespesia grandiflora; Maga grandiflora; Montezuma) (“flor de maga”)

National Tree:

·         Silk-cotton tree (ceiba pentandra) (“ceiba”)

National Symbol:

·         While the coqui-a tiny frog found everywhere in the island- is only an “unofficial national symbol”, its image figures prominently in Puerto Rican culture and heritage.

Interesting Fact:

·         When Puerto Ricans want to express their nationality, they say: Soy de aquí como el coquí (I’m as Puerto Rican as a coquí).

Motto:

·         Joannes Est Nomen Eius (John is his name)

Tourism Motto:

·         Puerto Rico lo hace mejor! (Puerto Rico does it better!)

Sponsors:

·         Puerto Rico now features as a port of call on many Caribbean cruises, giving you access to the country like never before. If you want to cruise to Puerto Rico in style, check out one of Celebrity Cruises Caribbean cruises.

Other Resources

·         Puerto Rico Map Source: Frommer’s Puerto Rico, 5th Edition

·         Porto [Puerto] Rico, 1920 Map from Putnam’s Handy Volume Atlas of the World.

·         Sunrise and Sunset in San Juan

Information Source: topuertorico.org

El Coquí

The Eleutherodactylus as known by its zoological name, exceeds the creature itself in length. The genus Eleutherodactylus, with over 600 species, is probably the most speciose genus of vertebrates (Crother 1999).

More than 16 different species live in the island, 13 of which occur in the Caribbean National Forest. Other species of this genus can be found around the world: in Central and South America; and the Caribbean.

The coquí – little frog, as it is called in Puerto Rico, has only a minute tail when it is born, and this quickly disappears. Its length ranges between 15mm-80mm and the color of the coquí varies considerably – green, brown and yellowish, sometimes having touches of different colors or two dorsolateral stripes.

The genera Eleutherodactylus, which in Greek means free toes. As the name indicates, this genera has no inter digital membrane, which could indicate that they are not adapted to swim. All coquies have disks or pads on the tips of their toes, to help them adhere to surfaces, like moistened leaves.

Coquis reproduce year-round in Puerto Rico, but breeding activity is concentrated in the wet season. This species utilizes internal fertilization and like other eleutherodactylids, the fertilized eggs undergo direct development, rather than passing through a free-living larval (tadpole) stage, which means the parents don’t have to lay their eggs on water, as it happens with other amphibians. The “tadpole” stage occurs entirely within a terrestrial egg, rather than as a free-living larval stage, and adult features form directly, sometimes bypassing the stages normally present in tadpole ontogeny (Hung and Elinson 1996, Hanken et al. 1997). Thus, a tiny but fully functional froglet hatches directly from the egg. Coquis deposit 4-6 clutches of about 28 eggs each (range 16-41) per year, with a development period of 17-26 days. Males guard the eggs to keep them from drying out and remain in the nest for a few days after they emerge.

It is a very popular creature throughout the island and enlivens the evenings with its timid ko-kee from which it get its name. The coquies begin to sing when the sun goes down at dusk, singing all night long until dawn. The male coquí sings – not the female. You can find the coquí nearly everywhere, from the margins of the forests where the areas receive large amounts of moisture, in highlands, lowlands, dry and arid places, even in caves depending on the species.

Information Source: topuertorico.org