Monday, January 12, 2009

Puerto Rico 101

Someone has inspired me to dedicate this entry entirely to educate those who have no clue what or where Puerto Rico is. I was providing this person, a customer service representative from the mainland U.S, my mailing address and I foolishly thought she knew how to spell "Puerto Rico." She was working from a drop-down menu of countries, and I knew she was struggling when she asked me if "P-E-R-U" was correct. Afterwards, she asked me if "P-A-R-A-G-U-A-Y" was correct. I had explain that Puerto Rico is in the Carribbean and that it's officially part of the U.S. I suppose she went to the state drop-down list after what I told her.

This incident is not the first time in which I've talked to someone who had no idea of the existence of the Island of Enchantment. My brother, who was traveling in Canada, had to present his driver's license to a security guard who actually couldn't find Puerto Rico in the list of countries. This is indeed a tiny island, a little dot on the map of the world. Unless you're a huge fan of Ricky Martin or have been exposed to the Puerto Rican culture, most people have probably never heard of or know very little about this island. So, here are some interesting facts about Puerto Rico:

Official Name: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ("Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico")
(Note: popularly known as "La Isla del Encanto"- The Island of Enchantment)
Location: Puerto Rico is located in the northeastern part of the Carribbean.
Population: 3.9 million inhabitants (2007 est.)
Political Status: since the end of the 20th Century, Puerto Rico has officially been a U.S territory, it is not a state, and its political status has been of major debate.
Citizenship: those born in Puerto Rico are automatically U.S citizens, according to the Jones-Shafroth Act (1917).
Historic Election: the first popularly elected governor Luis Muñoz Marín (San Juan's international airport was named after him), was elected in 1948.
Climate: year-round sunshine and warm temperatures!
Currency: US dollar
Official Languages: Spanish and English
(Note: most Puerto Ricans speak some English, especially those living in the bigger cities).

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