Brief History of Puerto Rico

May 19, 2003


1493, 19 Nov. - Puerto Rico was discovered by Cristopher Columbus.Columbus found 60,000 Taino Indians, peaceful people living from fishery and agriculture.Originally, the Spanish newcomers named the island San Juan Batista in honor of St. John the Baptist and its capital, Puerto Rico.Later, it was changed to Juan Ponce de Leon.At that time, it was the most important military post in the Caribbean.


1521 - Spain launched an effort to construct the military fortresses El Morro, San Cristobal, and the Geronimo fortresses.Sugar became the most important agricultural product.


1570 - The gold mines were declared depleted.


1600 - Establishment of the townships Arecibo, San Blas de Illescas (later called Coamo, and Ponce.The 18th century brought hurricanes, droughts, plagues and constant threat attacks by the British.


1776 - A census was taken and the population had grown to 70,210.


1809 - Puerto Rico was recognized as an overseas province with rights to send representatives to Spain.


19th Century - Puerto Rico was granted its first constitution allowing it to embark on free commerce with Europe and the United States.Political unrest characterized this era.


1868 - Citizens rose up against Spain.


1898 - Spanish American War.Puerto Rico became a territory of the United States before the governor surrendered.The governor took a last look at the Fortalez and the Grandfather clock, pulled his sword and hit the clock, breaking it -- time ceased.The 20th century brought remarkable progress to the island.


1917 - The US Congress granted Puerto Ricanís US citizenship.


1937 - FDR launched the Puerto Rico reconstruction authority which provided agricultural develpment, public works, and electrification of the island.


1951 - Puerto Rico acquired the right to establish a government with its own constitution.


1952 - Puerto Rico was declared a commonwealth territory by the USA.