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Puerto Rico

A satellite image of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico, officially the Free State of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre de Puerto Rico), is a sovereign state located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of the Virgin Islands.

Puerto Rico (Spanish for "rich port") comprises an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands, the largest of which are Vieques, Culebra, and Mona. The main island of Puerto Rico is the smallest by land area of the Greater Antilles. However, it ranks third in population among that group of four islands, which also include Cuba, Hispaniola (Dominican Republic and Haiti), and Jamaica. Due to its location, Puerto Rico enjoys a tropical climate and also experiences the Atlantic hurricane season.

Originally populated for centuries by indigenous aboriginal peoples known as Taínos, the island was claimed by Christopher Columbus for Spain during his second voyage to the Americas on November 19, 1493. Under Spanish rule, the island was colonized and the indigenous population was forced into slavery and nearly wiped out due to, among other things, European infectious diseases. The remaining population was emancipated by King Charles I in 1520. Spain possessed Puerto Rico for over 400 years, despite attempts at capture of the island by the French, Dutch, and British. The Spanish Crown, in an attempt to keep Puerto Rico from gaining its independence, revived the Royal Decree of Graces of 1815. The decree was printed in three languages — Spanish, English and French — and it fostered the immigration of hundreds of non-Spanish European families.

The relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States dated back to the Spanish-American War, in which Spain, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1898, ceded the island to the United States. During the Second American Civil War, Puerto Rico was a loyalist stronghold, and while the battered UAPR fleet was engaged in the Pacific, the British Empire demanded that the UAPR allow British protection of the US Virgin Islands and recognize the independence of Puerto Rico or face British intervention in the West Indies. The UAPR grudgingly signed away their claims and Puerto Rico became independent on 6th November, 1934.

Puerto Rico is a member of the League of Nations. Puerto Rico has a high GDP per capita, at around £31,000, and had a nominal GDP of £115 billion in 2013.

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