The island ‘Borinquen’ was populated by the Taino

PR Indians until the early 1500’s. Carib Indians raided the more peaceful Taino and established a few settlements. Columbus discovered the island on his second voyage in 1493 and named it San Juan. No attempt at settlement was made until Juan Ponce de Leon was given a charter by the King of Spain to colonize the island of San Juan (1508). The first capital city soon moved from its’ origins in Caparra to what is now Old San Juan due to the mosquito infestations from the surrounding swamps. The capital city became known as San Juan as the name of the island changed to Puerto Rico (Rich Port). The Spanish government built a series of fortifications, including El Morro and San Cristobal, which still stand guard over the entrance to the harbor. Old San Juan is the second oldest Spanish colonial city in the New World and an excellent example of Spanish colonial architecture; most of which, has been beautifully restored. The lovely blue cobblestones paving the streets were brought as ballast in the ships. The cities of Ponce and Mayaguez were established in the late 1700’s.
As settlement of Puerto Rico progressed, the native Indians tried to defend their island but were overpowered by the Spanish’ Conquistadores’. The Indians not killed in battle were enslaved, most died off from disease and maltreatment. Many of the Indian women survived and eventually populated the interior of Puerto Rico along with the Spanish sailors who had brought no women with them. For several hundred years Puerto Rico was mainly a small farm economy. In the early 1800’s the King of Spain granted a ‘Cedula de Gracia’ to increase the European population of Puerto Rico by awarding land grants to immigrants from South American colonies, Spain and other European countries. Thus began the century of change from small farms to large coffee plantations, then sugar production came into supremacy. African slaves were imported for the larger plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1873.

During the ‘Spanish-American War’ US troops invaded Puerto Rico at Guanica, July 25, 1898 to fight the Spanish Troops stationed there. No Puerto Ricans were killed; however, 50 Spanish and 50 US troops died in subsequent battles. The war ended before any heavy fighting began in Puerto Rico. The local populace had already risen in arms against the Spanish in 1868 and, in general, did not oppose the American soldiers, although the government in San Juan had declared loyalty to Spain. At the termination of the ‘Spanish-American War’ , the US demanded Puerto Rico as ‘war payment’ from Spain in the ‘Treaty of Paris’. In 1917 all Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship. Munoz Marin was the first elected governor (1948) and Puerto Rico developed its’ own constitution under ‘Commonwealth’ status. Puerto Rican residents do not pay federal income tax nor vote in presidential elections but do pay social security, receive federal welfare and serve in the armed forces.
The influence of the early Spanish settlers is still evident in the prevalence of the Roman Catholic faith. As recently as less than a century ago, over 90 percent of the population could be said to be Roman Catholic. In more recent times, particularly due to the inflow from the United States of America, Protestant faiths have taken hold and currently claim as much as one-third of the population as worshipers.
The influence of the early Spanish settlers is still evident in the prevalence of the Roman Catholic faith. As recently as less than a century ago, over 90 percent of the population could be said to be Roman Catholic. In more recent times, particularly due to the inflow from the United States of America, Protestant faiths have taken hold and currently claim as much as one-third of the population as worshipers.

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