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Tuesday 25th June
Puerto Rico Information - Page 1
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico is a dependent of the USA but retains commonwealth status.

San Juan is the capital. Other important cities are Ponce, Caguas, Mayaguez and Arecibo. Smaller islands belonging to Puerto Rico include Culebra, Vieques and Mona.

Much of Puerto Rico is mountainous with coastal lowlands. The longest river is the Grande de Arecibo.

Puerto Rico has a tropical climate although it is cooler at higher elevations.

Protected areas in Puerto Rico include Las Cabezas de San Juan Nature Preserve, Pinones Natural Reserve and the Guanica Dry Forest Reserve (a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve).

Puerto Rico's Caribbean National Forest is the only tropical rainforest in the US National Parks service. "El Yunque", as it is known, is home to many species of birds including the Puerto Rican Parrot, one of the world's rarest birds.

The island of Mona, fifty miles off Puerto Rico, is also a protected area. The island is known for a unique type of iguana that grows to four feet in length. Mona Island is under the management of the US National Park Service and the Puerto Rican Natural Resources Department.

There are around four hundred buildings of historic importance in Old San Juan dating back to the time of Spanish rule (1493-1898).

The San Juan National Historic Site is on the World Heritage List; structures include forts, walled fortifications, a mansion built for the first governor of Puerto Rico, and the Cathedral of San Juan.

Today, San Juan is a modern city with the usual high-rise buildings associated with a dynamic economy and a healthy tourist industry.

In 2002 the University of Puerto Rice was awarded a prize for the design of a solar-powered house. Many people in Puerto Rico already used solar power for heating water but the design incorporated a solar electric system as well as a solar hot water system.

The population of Puerto Rico was estimated at 3,989,133 in 2011.

Spanish and English are both official languages in Puerto Rico although not everyone speaks English.

Christianity is the main religion in Puerto Rico; a high percentage of the people are Roman Catholics. There is also a small Jewish community.

Santeria, an Afro-Caribbean religion, is practised by some Puerto Ricans.

Puerto Rican cuisine is a fusion of Spanish, Latin American and Afro-Caribbean food.

Soups and stews are made using sofrito - a mixture of peppers, garlic, onions, coriander and yellow achiote oil.

Meat is fried and roasted. Roasted meat is prepared with adobo - a marinade of garlic, peppercorns, salt, oregano, olive oil and lime juice.

Meat pies, chicken dishes and Spanish omelettes are popular. Fish is available and rice, beans and plantains are staple foods. A variety of vegetables are grown: cassava, okra, pigeon peas, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and breadfruit.

Fresh fruit is used in dessert recipes and cakes - coconut is an ingredient in a number of sweet dishes. Custard flan is a favourite.

Coffee is grown in Puerto Rico and beer is a popular drink. Puerto Rico is a leading producer of rum; the distillery outside San Juan is the largest rum distillery in the world.

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