Puerto Rico (English /ˌpɔrtə ˈriːkoʊ/ or /ˌpwɛərtə ˈriːkoʊ/;[a] Spanish: [ˈpweɾto ˈriko]), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, literally the "Free Associated State of Puerto Rico"), is a United States territory located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic, and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.
Puerto Rico is an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands, the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. With about 3.6 million people, it ranks third in population and fourth in area among the Greater Antilles, which include Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) and Jamaica. The capital and largest city is San Juan. Due to its location, Puerto Rico has a tropical climate with warm weather year round and does not observe daylight saving time. Its official languages are Spanish, which is predominant, and English.
Originally populated for centuries by the aboriginal Taíno people, the island was claimed on November 19, 1493, by Christopher Columbus for the Kingdom of Spain during his second voyage to the Americas. Like Cuba, Puerto Rico remained a Spanish colony until 1898. Despite the Laws of Burgos of 1512 and other decrees for the protection of the indigenous population, some Taíno Indians were forced into slavery in the early years of colonization. The population suffered extremely high fatalities from epidemics of European infectious diseases.[b][c][d][e][f]
During the four centuries of Spanish rule, the island's culture and physical landscape were transformed. European knowledge, customs and traditions were introduced, especially Roman Catholicism, the Spanish language, and advances such as agriculture, construction in stone, and the printing press. Numerous public buildings, forts, churches and public infrastructure built during Spanish colonial rule still stand today.
Regular convoys of the West Indies Fleet linked the island to Spain, sailing between Cádiz and the Spanish West Indies every year. From the beginning of Puerto Rico's colonization by Spain in 1508, its inhabitants were Spanish citizens, and the island remained Spanish territory despite invasion attempts by the French, Dutch, and British. On November 25, 1897, Spain granted limited self-government to the island by royal decree in the Autonomic Charter, including a bicameral legislature. The following year, however, Spain ceded the island to United States under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Spanish American War.
People born in Puerto Rico are natural-born citizens of the United States. The territory operates under a local constitution, and Puerto Ricans elect a governor. However, Puerto Rico lacks voting members in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, both of whom have plenary jurisdiction over it under the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act of 1950. As of 2015, Puerto Rico remains a U.S. territory. A 2012 referendum showed a majority (54% of the electorate) disagreed with "the present form of territorial status," with full statehood as the preferred option among those who voted for a change of status.
All sources from wikipedia.