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Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island known for its rich history and culture, exceptional food, pristine beaches, majestic mountains, relaxation, and adventure.
Discovered by Columbus in 1493, the Spaniards renamed the island San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico, after John the Baptist.
The country consists of the large island of Puerto Rico, Isla Mona to the west, and Islas de Culebra and de Vieques to the east.
San Juan Bautista de Puerto Rico
From the Spanish base of Santo Domingo, Ponce de Leon sailed to Puerto Rico in 1508, and became the island's first governor.
In the same year, mosquitoes around the original settlement of Caparra plagued the Spaniards and forced them to move across the bay and settle on the headland.
It's not certain when the name of the island became that of the town, or the rich port the name of the island; probably when the Spaniards found out that the rivers would not yield them with golden riches, or perhaps it was to bless the new settlement with the name of a patron saint.
Spain began to build a considerable and wealthy empire in the Americas, and this in turn attracted the French, British and Dutch to plunder what they could.
All Spanish settlements and shipping were at risk.
The capital of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is in the north-eastern part of the island; facing the Atlantic Ocean.
Old San Juan, the historical part of the city, lies on a small island connected to the mainland by bridges and a causeway.
As the Casa Blanca stronghold, built as a house for the heirs of Ponce de Leon, in 1525, would do little against a serious land attack, and La Fortaleza (completed in 1540 and now the governors house) was in a foolish position in the inner harbour, Oviedo suggested that a more secure fort be built on the commanding headland.
Emperor Charles V, Charles I of Spain authorised the construction of the El Morro fortress, in 1539, to protect the harbour from capture. If the enemy were to obtain such a strategic port, they would be free to attack the Spanish fleet, and rob Spain of her treasures, at will.
During the increased fortifications of El Morro, financed by stolen treasures from Mexico, the Spaniards had frequent visits by the British. Francis Drake made a brave attempt to snatch a cargo of gold and silver that awaited transportation to Spain in La Fortaleza, and the Earl of Cumberland made a successful land attack.
In 1625 the Dutch attacked from the landslide of El Morro, and burnt the city on their retreat. The land defences were also reinforced with massive surroundings walls and San Cristobal fort on the eastern shore.
The San Juan gate would open from the quay, where visiting high government officials were met by local dignitaries and escorted up the hill to the Cathedral; which now contains the remains of Juan Ponce de Leon.
The two convoys that left Spain each year needed to be guaranteed a safe passage. With Spain controlling Santo Domingo and San Juan, the convoys could bring supplies from Spain and continue across the Caribbean.
One would head for Veracruz to pick up Mexican silver and Philippine merchandise that had travelled across the Pacific, while the other would take on pearls at Cartagena and Peruvian treasure at Portobello, on the Isthmus of Panama.
The two fleets would meet at Havana for the homeward voyage -- past the shores of Florida, and on to Spain.
In 1586, after Havana had already been sacked and Sir Francis Drake humiliated the Spaniards by breaking into the cities of Santo Domingo, Cartagena and St Augustine, Don Juan de Tejeda and the military engineer, Juan Bautista Antonelli, were sent to the Caribbean to plan and strengthen Spanish defences.
San Juan is considered the hub of the Caribbean with American Airlines running daily flights to numerous US cities and other Caribbean destinations.
Puerto Rico's association with America has meant that fast food drive-ins now offer rations in polystyrene shells, not nearly as savoury as oysters; although there are some savoury places to eat as well.
Many Cruise ships make San Juan a regular port of call.
Daily signs go up around the tourist shops in Old San Juan welcoming the liners by name, offering free cocktails and gifts to purchasing customers, along with lucky cabin number draws.
Dining - Ummo Argentinian Grill:
If taste buds could dance, theyd be doing the tango at Ummo.
On the mainland, east of old San Juan, is the high-rise luxury hotels and condominiums; popular with tourists who like to make a quick tour of the historical sights and then get to work on their tan.
Puerto Rico Tourism
The publicos (shared taxis) have set routes and are a great way to travel cheaply, from plaza to plaza, around the island of Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico is a place where the old world is mashed up with the new on an island that is small in size but offers an immense bounty of one-of-a-kind experiences.
Rich history and culture, exceptional food, pristine beaches, majestic mountains, relaxation, adventure; all packed into one sun-kissed, Caribbean paradise.
Whatever your idea of paradise may be you'll find it in Puerto Rico.
Discover its past and present as you explore its 78 municipalities.
Enjoy the hidden treasures of Puerto Rico, its attractions, year-round events and, local tourism opportunities.
Puerto Rico is packed with enough unique attractions and fascinating sights to keep you occupied for weeks.
The Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan is the largest and most technologically advanced in the Caribbean.
The Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association represents the shared interests of its more than 400 corporate members, including hotels, restaurants, tour companies, suppliers of hospitality goods and services, airlines, cruise lines and educational institutions.
Arguably the most beautiful city in the Caribbean, a leisurely walk through Old San Juan is one of the most pleasant experiences anyone could have in Puerto Rico.
There's plenty more to see and do on the island as well.
Puerto Rico Accommodation
Usually family owned and managed, often tucked into the most interesting or unusual corners of the island, and always with attractive prices and personalised service, the small inns and hotels of Puerto Rico are very special places.
Puerto Rico Travel Guides
Weather in the Caribbean:
Local weather forecasts for destinations around the Caribbean region.
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