With endless sun and gorgeous white sand beaches, Puerto Rico is an island getaway for visitors throughout the year. This small Caribbean island attracts countless tourists to its most popular attractions including Castillo San Cristobal and the El Yunque National Forest.
San Juan, its capital and largest city, features many hotels, beach bars, and casinos.
In the Old San Juan neighborhood, you will find Spanish colonial architecture and other historical castles. There are countless things to explore in this beautiful place.
25 Fun Facts About Puerto Rico
When you visit Puerto Rico, you’ll soon realize that it is much more than just a tropical setting, but a variety of historical attractions and other natural wonders you’ll want to explore.
Here are 25 fun and interesting facts about Puerto Rico that you will find fascinating to discover.
1. Puerto Rico Is Not An Official U.S. State.
While Puerto Rico isn’t a state, it is a commonwealth of the United States. This means that citizens can travel there without a passport. It also means that the federal government does have jurisdiction over it.
Puerto Ricans do not have any representatives in the Senate. Their resident commissioner represents them in the House of Representatives, but they cannot vote on bills.
2. However, Puerto Ricans Are Americans.
All Puerto Rican residents receive birthright citizenship, which means that they have American passports and can travel back and forth to the United States or other U.S. territories or commonwealths freely.
However, they cannot vote in elections, however, they can vote for party nominees for major elections.
3. You Can Obtain Puerto Rican Citizenship Too.
For those that are born there, they can receive a Certificate of Puerto Rican citizenship, which allows them to become dual nationals of both Puerto Rico and the United States.
You must be born in Puerto Rico, have one Puerto Rican parent, and be an American who has lived there for at least one year to earn this status.
4. They Have Their Own Olympic Team.
While considered part of the United States, Puerto Rico does have its separate Olympic team. The International Olympic Committee has recognized it separately from the United States since 1948.
5. They Also Have Their Own Miss Universe Candidates.
As its territory, Puerto Rico competes as an independent nation in the Miss Universe pageant. The country has won the title five times in 1970, 1985, 1993, 2001, and most recently in 2006.
6. It’s The World’s Oldest Colony.
The Taino people for thousands of years before Christopher Columbus arrived in 1493. He stayed for just two days, yet Spain claimed it as its colony. They controlled Puerto Rico for over 400 years before it was ceded to the United States in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.
7. It Was Protected By The U.S. Military During World War II.
While it was primarily fought in Europe and Asia, the American military was worried about it being invaded, so it was secured. Modifications to its fort were made to make it usable again.
Bases and bunkers were also built throughout it. After the war was over, many military tanks were left behind and there were many abandoned bunkers to explore in Vieques.
8. It Houses America’s Only Tropical Rainforest.
El Yunque is one of the smallest forests in the United States at only 29,000 acres. With 3,000-foot-tall mountains, you will find exotic wildlife, parrots, and frogs galore.
9. There Are 300 Miles Of Beaches Here.
Yes, Puerto Rico is known for its beaches. Luquillo Beach is one of the most popular ones with coconut palms and white sand to walk on.
For a more secluded feel, try Flamenco Beach on Culebra Island with beautiful coral reefs, perfect for diving and snorkeling. Sun Ray Beach in Vieques is also a popular destination.
10. Enjoy Bioluminescent Lights At Mosquito Bay.
Sun Ray Beach containing Mosquito Bay is home to plankton that produces a beautiful night show of bioluminescent light. In the best conditions, you can see the water glowing blue after sunset.
11. It Features America’s Largest Network Of Caves.
Visit Cavernas del Río Camuy which has 250 miles of nearly 200 caves, the largest in the Western Hemisphere. While only a few have mapped trails, you can go off the beaten path and explore all of them. Just take care to avoid any accidents.
12. Rum Is A Big Deal Here.
There are microdistilleries in nearly every major city and many local restaurants have rums you can sample too. Take a tour of Bacardi’s distillery in Cataño. Other distilleries may offer tastings or mixology classes for a fee.
13. There Are Countless Coffee Plantations.
Puerto Rican coffee is definitely underrated. The best Puerto Rican coffee comes from beans that are grown high in the cool and moist Toro Negro mountain regions in the western part of the island.
Coffee plantations can be found in Ponce, Adjuntas, San Sebastián, Jayuya, Lares, and Las Marias. While many locals love espresso, others enjoy a cortadito, which is espresso with steamed milk.
14. Yes, It’s Warm And Sunny, But There’s A Wet Season Too.
While the weather is pleasant all year long and remains in the 80s, the temperatures may dip a bit in fall and winter. Its wet season is from May to November, which correlates with the hurricane season. Be aware that tropical storms can occur in the summer.
15. Christmas Is Celebrated Throughout The Year.
Here, Christmas isn’t just December 25. Many locals start to decorate in late October. Many festivals begin in late November shortly after Thanksgiving.
Also, celebrations don’t end on Christmas Day. The Sebastián Street Festival is held in late January where you can enjoy a street festival with dancing and live music.
16. They Use Both The Imperial And Metric Systems.
In Puerto Rico, it can be easy to get confused when traveling there for the first time since road signs show kilometers and gas is sold in liters.
However, speed limit signs are in miles per hour and many maps will show feet and inches. A conversion app can help you do quick calculations when you’re unsure.
17. Locals Speak Both Spanish And English.
Puerto Rico has two official languages: English and Spanish. While typically people are greeted in Spanish, for more in-depth conversations, English is used. Learn basic Spanish greetings to communicate more freely.
18. Two Of The Oldest American Churches Are Located In Old San Juan.
Old San Juan is home to Catedral de San Juan, which is the most important religious landmark on the island. First built in 1521, the original structure was destroyed by two hurricanes and attacks, which led to its reconstruction in 1540.
The second oldest is Iglesia de San José, which was built in 1922. The oldest church is still in use and features beautiful Spanish Gothic architecture.
19. It’s Home To The First Caribbean Nuclear Power Plant.
The Boiling Nuclear Superheater Reactor (BONUS) facility is located in Rincón. Also known as Domes, it has served as a testing facility since 1960 when it was first built until 1968.
While it was decommissioned, it still serves as a historical step in the history of modern nuclear facilities. And don’t worry, yes it’s safe to visit as there is no radiation any longer.
20. It Has Several Uninhabited Islands And Galápagos Island Too.
While many refer to it as a single island, it is actually an archipelago containing three main islands, Puerto Rico, Culebra, and Vieques. There are also several uninhabited islands that are great for a day trip like Culebrita, Cayo Carcoles, Isla Palomino, Cayo Icacos, and Gilligan’s Island.
Three islands, Monito, Descecheo, and Mona Island, are National Wildlife Refuges. Mona Island is known as the Galápagos Island of the Caribbean as it features countless unique species of iguanas that overrun the entire island.
To visit here, you must get a permit from the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.
21. There’s Even A Forbidden Island.
One of its islands, Desecheo Island, is off-limits to all visitors as it is used as both a training and test field by the U.S. Navy. Visitors can only visit its coast as it contains dangerous explosives.
22. There Really Was A Real Pirate Of The Caribbean.
Its most famous real-life pirate, Cofresi Pirate, was born in Cabo Rojo and dreamed about exploring the sea. The tale goes that he would attack boats and then share the valuables he seized with the poor, like a Robin Hood character.
Many believe that some of his treasures are still hidden on the island.
23. He May Even Have Invented The Piña colada.
While he was known for offering his crew a cocktail that was made of rum, coconuts, and pineapple, his recipe was lost in 1825.
The official piña colada was invented by Ramon Monchito Marrero in 1954 when he worked as a bartender at the Caribe Hilton. He created the recipe as he felt it gave the true essence of the island.
However, a Barrachina restaurant in Old San Juan also claims their bartender invented the drink in 1963. Many locals argue about who’s the real inventor of the island drink.
24. It Has A Diverse Population.
Puerto Ricans are a beautiful melting pot of sorts of Spanish, American, African, and Taino races. This can be seen in not only the people, but also its traditions, music, and yes, even food.
25. Celebrate The Oldest Western Hemisphere’s Oldest Festival.
Many historians believe that the Ponce Carnival is one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere dating back to 1858. Every year it is celebrated a week before Ash Wednesday.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you go to Puerto Rico without a passport?
U.S. citizens can travel there without a passport. This is because it is a U.S. territory so any form of government-issued identification such as a state identification card or driver’s license is permitted for entry.
Is Puerto Rico a part of the United States?
Puerto Rico is considered an unincorporated territory of the United States. It is neither a United States nor a sovereign nation. Its head of state is the President of the United States. It does have a governor that governs it as a territory, but it does follow all laws of the United States.
What currency is used in Puerto Rico?
The U.S. dollar is the island’s currency. It relies on the U.S. government to print money and to manage its money supply with the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Central Bank. The dollar is divided into 100 cents, which locals call pesos.
Do Puerto Ricans have to pay U.S. taxes?
While the Commonwealth government has its own tax laws, residents must pay U.S. federal taxes. However, they do not pay federal personal income tax.
Can a U.S. citizen live in Puerto Rico?
Because it is a U.S. territory, no special work permits or visas are required for U.S. citizens. Many consider it a beautiful extension of the United States without all the hassle and paperwork of moving to a foreign country.
Book Your Trip to Puerto Rico Today!
With so many fun and historical things to see and do, what are you waiting for – book your trip to the island today and experience Puerto Rico for yourself. Happy travels!