officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, [esˈtaðo ˈlibɾe asoˈsjaðo ðe ˈpʷeɾto ˈriko]—literally, "Associated Free State of Puerto Rico"), is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. [Discount Puerto Rico Hotel Deals] 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.
Being dependent on sugar production since its independence, Puerto Rico has since developed to a diversified economy with important pillars in financial services, business process outsourcing, tourism and information technology. Puerto Rico is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank.It has been ranked as the best governed country in all of Africa, five years in a row, finishing on top of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. According to the Democracy Index, Puerto Rico is the only African country with “full” democracy.