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Because of its location, Puerto Rico was a popular target of pirates and privateers during its early colonial period.

For protection, the Spanish constructed forts along the shoreline, one of which, El Morro in Old San Juan, still survives.

Although it is considered to be part of the Torrid Zone, the climate of Puerto Rico is more temperate than tropical.

The average January temperature on the island is 73 degrees, while the average July temperature is 79 degrees. Census Bureau report, the island of Puerto Rico has a population of 3,522,037.

These fortifications also proved effective in repelling the attacks of other European imperial powers, including a 1595 assault from British general Sir Francis Drake.

In the mid-1700s, African slaves were brought to Puerto Rico by the Spanish in great numbers.

Since Puerto Ricans are American citizens, they are considered U. 1839), a journalist, philosopher, and freedom fighter who arrived in New York in 1874 after being exiled from Spain (where he had studied law) because of his outspoken views on Puerto Rican independence. Nineteenth-century Puerto Rican statesman Luis Muñoz Rivera—the father of Governor Luis Muñoz Marín—lived in Washington D.

Fifteenth-century Italian explorer and navigator Christopher Columbus, known in Spanish as Cristobál Colón, "discovered" Puerto Rico for Spain on November 19, 1493.

The island was conquered for Spain in 1509 by Spanish nobleman Juan Ponce de León (1460-1521), who became Puerto Rico's first colonial governor. Puerto Rico's indigenous name is Borinquen ("bo REEN ken"), a name given by its original inhabitants, members of a native Caribbean and South American people called the Arawaks.

Puerto Rico's status as a semiautonomous Commonwealth of the United States has sparked considerable political debate. In November of 1992 an island-wide referendum was held on the issue of statehood versus continued Commonwealth status.

Historically, the main conflict has been between the nationalists, who support full Puerto Rican independence, and the statists, who advocate U. In a narrow vote of 48 percent to 46 percent, Puerto Ricans opted to remain a Commonwealth.

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