Puerto Rico History
||Christopher Columbus found Puerto
Rico on his second voyage to the new world in 1493. The first
town established in Puerto Rico was named Caparra, located near
the south shore of what is today the San Juan Bay. The Taino
Indians, were the first group of people living on the island.
The Taino’s lived in small tribes and were the first influence
in Puerto Rican culture. Ultimately it was the Spanish culture
which most greatly influenced the island's history. When
the Spanish forced the Tainos into slavery, virtually the entire
indigenous population was decimated, except for a few Amerindians
who escaped into the remote mountains. Eventually the Indian population
intermarried with the poor Spanish farmers and became known as Jibaros.
Puerto Rico also has a rich African culture dating from the importation
of Africans as slaves by the Spaniards in past centuries. In the
1500’s agriculture was beginning to take a greater role on
the islands economy and African Slaves that came to the island were
also put to work due to cheap labor. The African slaves were used
for mining work. As mining resources became limited, cultivating
sugar cane became the most important economical activity. By now
the Spanish had built a rich empire in the new world. Convoys of
ships loaded with silver, pearls, and all kinds of treasures from
the new world sailed the Caribbean Sea, but were often attacked
by the French, English and Dutch pirates.
Today Puerto Rico is recognized for its beautiful architecture.
Cobble stone streets, interior patios, hanging balconies, plazas,
and chapels that make Puerto Rico one of the most historic cities,
and charming picturesque places to visit. Puerto Rico has a rich
culture with a unique blend of people from the Caribbean and Latino
decent. 85% of the people living on the island are Roman Catholic,
and the other 15% are of protestant and other denominations. While
Puerto Rico is a part of the United States, its culture and social
mores lean toward the Spanish side. Puerto Ricans are American citizens
and became part of the United States in 1898. Due to the islands
mix of people, the blend of cultures plays a significant role in
their music and cooking.
A fusion of European, Afro-Caribbean and Latin American cultures
has produced one of the most mouth watering cuisines throughout
the western hemisphere. Cocina Criolla (Creole cooking) can be traced
back to the Arawaks and Tainos, the original inhabitants of the
island, who thrived on a diet of corn, tropical fruit and seafood.
With the arrival of the Spanish in 1493, other ingredients such
as beef, pork, rice, wheat, and olive oil were incorporated into
the native diet. Rice is used in almost any main dish on Puerto
Rico. Some dishes include chicken, rice and beans, and plantains.
Plantains are a staple part of the Puerto Rican diet, and are prepared
in dozens of ways. Sofritoa, a combination of ingredients used as
a seasoning to give a distinctive characteristic taste to many native
dishes, is used in almost any local Puerto Rican dish.
Puerto Rico is an island that extenuates its beauty and pride beyond
its beautiful beaches and historic locations. It praises its culture
through the foods that people eat, the clothes that they wear, and
the music that they listen too. Puerto Rico is a tropical paradise
that wants to share its Latino heritage with everyone!