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The List: 6 facts about Puerto Rico

A woman waving a Puerto Rican flag
A woman waving a Puerto Rican flag marches in a parade to celebrate the island’s heritage last year.

The Postal Service will dedicate Hearts Blossom, this year’s Love stamp, in Puerto Rico on Thursday, Jan. 10. Here are some facts about the island.

1. Puerto Rico has a rich history. Christopher Columbus claimed the Caribbean island on Spain’s behalf in 1493. At the time, the island was inhabited by Taíno Indians. Spanish explorers originally called the island San Juan Bautista in honor of St. John the Baptist. Puerto Rico (“rich port”) was an important city on the island. Over time, Puerto Rico became the island’s name and the city became known as San Juan.

2. The island’s residents are U.S. citizens. In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed a law that established Puerto Rico as a U.S. territory and granted Puerto Ricans U.S. statutory citizenship. The island became a self-governing commonwealth in 1952.

3. Puerto Rico has close connections to the U.S. mainland. The largest migration of Puerto Ricans to the U.S. mainland occurred in 1953, when more than 69,000 islanders relocated mostly to New York, New Jersey and Florida.

4. Puerto Rico is home to a rainforest. El Yunque National Forest, located in northeastern Puerto Rico, is the only tropical rainforest managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The 28,000-acre, biodiverse ecosystem encompasses 240 species of trees, 23 of which are unique to the rainforest. Tiny frogs called coqui are the island’s “unofficial” national symbol.

5. Several major industries are represented on the island. These include pharmaceuticals, electronics, textiles, petrochemicals, processed foods, clothing, finance and tourism.

6. Puerto Rico has several claims to fame. Famous Puerto Ricans include actors Benicio del Toro and Rita Moreno, baseball great Roberto Clemente and singer Ricky Martin.

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