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Puerto Rico Information - Page 2
Christopher Columbus claimed Puerto Rico for Spain in 1493. The inhabitants of the island were Taino Indians who were enslaved and made to work in Puerto Rico's mines and on Spanish-owned farms. Many of the Taino people died from unfamiliar diseases brought to the island by the Spanish; others died in slavery and some committed suicide. African slaves were brought to Puerto Rico to replace the indigenous people in the mines and on the plantations.

In the early nineteenth century refugees from the Napoleonic Wars and other European immigrants arrived in Puerto Rico.

Following the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico was ceded to the USA (1898). Puerto Ricans became US citizens (1917) and in 1952 Puerto Rico's Constitution established self-government. In 1954 Puerto Rican nationalists carried out an armed attack in the US Congress but over the years the people of Puerto Rico have voted to retain Commonwealth status.

The economy of Puerto Rico has benefited greatly from US investment. It is one of the healthiest economies in the Caribbean with a diverse industrial sector and an important tourist industry.

Only a very small percentage of the labour force works in the agricultural sector (coffee, sugarcane, pineapples, bananas, plantains and dairy products) whilst much larger numbers are employed in industries including electronics, pharmaceuticals, clothes and food products.

The services sector, including tourism, provides employment for the largest percentage of the working population. (2011)

Music and dance is an important part of Puerto Rico's culture. During the time of slavery, African slaves introduced music known as "bomba". Bomba includes song, instrumental music and dance. Around the time of the transition from Spanish to American rule, music and song known as "plena" became popular. The words of the songs centred on current events and everyday happenings. More recently Puerto Rico has contributed to the development of salsa which has brought Puerto Rico to the fore of international music.

Puerto Rican culture is promoted by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture.

Baseball is one of the most popular sports in Puerto Rico and a number of Puerto Ricans play Major League Baseball. The island's Basketball Team is a regular participant in the Olympic Games.

Watersports include scuba diving, surfing, sailing and big game fishing.

Puerto Rico celebrates Constitution Day on 25 July (1952) and the US Independence Day on 4 July (1776). Other holidays include Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.

Festivals and carnivals are held throughout Puerto Rico.

News from Puerto Rico is available from Newslink.

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