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Monday, January 12, 2009

Puerto Rico


The island of Puerto Rico (Rich Port) has a large array of natural riches. Its central mountain range reaches 1,338m (4,390ft) at Cerro de Punta; it has the only tropical rainforest in the US National Forest System, El Yunque; and its beaches brag warm, turquoise waters and soft, yellow sand.Just as Puerto Rico's bionetwork boasts unique characteristics, the culture and way of life is also distinct. Many of San Juan's buildings proudly preserve their original Spanish style. This is still an island of fiestas and paella.Columbus ‘discovered' Puerto Rico in 1493, but the Taino Indians were the first inhabitants. After centuries of Spanish rule, Puerto Rico was ceded to the USA in 1898. In 1917, Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship and the island later became a self-governing ‘Commonwealth in association with the USA'. Thus Puerto Ricans can own an American passport but they do not pay US federal taxes and cannot vote in US elections.There is still a vocal lobby for full independence, but for the most part, the country happily juggles Spanish and US influence; not to mention a strong African influence legacy of the slave trade.

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