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Puerto Rico.

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!

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Puerto Rico Travel Guides
 Frommer's Puerto Rico
 Lonely Planet Puerto Rico
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