The World Factbook (1990)/Puerto Rico

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Puerto Rico (commonwealth associated with the US)

World Factbook (1990) Puerto Rico.jpg

See regional map III


Total area: 9,104 km²; land area: 8,959 km²

Comparative area: slightly less than three times the size of Rhode Island

Land boundaries: none

Coastline: 501 km

Maritime claims:

Contiguous zone: 12 nm
Continental shelf: 200 m
Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: tropical marine, mild, little seasonal temperature variation

Terrain: mostly mountains with coastal plain belt in north; mountains precipitous to sea on west coast

Natural resources: some copper and nickel; potential for onshore and offshore crude oil

Land use: 8% arable land; 9% permanent crops; 51% meadows and pastures; 25% forest and woodland; 7% other

Environment: many small rivers and high central mountains ensure land is well watered; south coast relatively dry; fertile coastal plain belt in north

Note: important location between the Dominican Republic and the Virgin Islands group along the Mona Passage—a key shipping lane to the Panama Canal; San Juan is one of the biggest and best natural harbors in the Caribbean


Population: 3,291,207 (July 1990), growth rate 0.1% (1990)

Birth rate: 19 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 8 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -11 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 17 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 68 years male, 76 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 2.2 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Puerto Rican(s); adjective—Puerto Rican

Ethnic divisions: almost entirely Hispanic

Religion: mostly Christian, 85% Roman Catholic, 15% Protestant denominations and other

Language: Spanish (official); English is widely understood

Literacy: 89%

Labor force: 1,062,000; 23% government, 20% trade, 18% manufacturing, 4% agriculture, 35% other (1988)

Organized labor: 115,000 members in 4 unions; the largest is the General Confederation of Puerto Rican Workers with 35,000 members (1983)


Long-form name: Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

Type: commonwealth associated with the US

Capital: San Juan

Administrative divisions: none (commonwealth associated with the US)

Independence: none (commonwealth associated with the US)

Constitution: ratified 3 March 1952; approved by US Congress 3 July 1952; effective 25 July 1952

National holiday: Constitution Day, 25 July (1952)

Legal system: based on English common law

Executive branch: US president, US vice president, governor

Legislative branch: bicameral Legislative Assembly consists of an upper house or Senate and a lower house or House of Representatives

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Chief of State—President George BUSH (since 20 January 1989); Vice President Dan QUAYLE (since 20 January 1989);

Head of Government—Governor Rafael HERNÁNDEZ Colón (since 2 January 1989)

Political parties and leaders: Popular Democratic Party (PPD), Rafael Hernández Colón; New Progressive Party (PNP), Baltasar Corrado del Rio; Puerto Rican Socialist Party (PSP), Juan Mari Bras and Carlos Gallisa; Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), Rubén Berríos Martínez; Puerto Rican Communist Party (PCP), leader(s) unknown

Suffrage: universal at age 18; indigenous inhabitants are US citizens, but do not vote in US presidential elections

Elections: Governor—last held 8 November 1988 (next to be held November 1992); results—Rafael Hernández Colón (PPD) 48.7%, Baltasar Corrada Del Rio (PNP) 45.8%, Rubén Barríos Martínez (PIP) 5.5%;

Senate—last held 8 November 1988 (next to be held November 1992); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(27 total) PPD 18, PNP 8, PIP 1;

House of Representatives—last held 8 November 1988 (next to be held November 1992); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(53 total) PPD 36, PNP 15, PIP 2

Other political or pressure groups: all have engaged in terrorist activities—Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN), Volunteers of the Puerto Rican Revolution, Boricua Popular Army (also known as the Macheteros), Armed Forces of Popular Resistance

Diplomatic representation: none (commonwealth associated with the US)

Flag: five equal horizontal bands of red (top and bottom) alternating with white; a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side bears a large white five-pointed star in the center; design based on the US flag


Overview: Puerto Rico has one of the most dynamic economies in the Caribbean region. Industry has surpassed agriculture as the primary sector of economic activity and income. Encouraged by duty-free access to the US and by tax incentives, US firms have invested heavily in Puerto Rico since the 1970s. Important new industries include pharmaceuticals, electronics, textiles, petrochemicals, and processed foods. Sugar production has lost out to dairy production and other livestock products as the main source of income in the agricultural sector. Tourism has traditionally been an important source of income for the island.

GNP: $18.4 billion, per capita $5,574; real growth rate 4.9% (FY88)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 33% (December 1987-88)

Unemployment rate: 12.8% (December 1988)

Budget: revenues $4.9 million; expenditures $4.9 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY88)

Exports: $13.2 billion (f.o.b., FY88); commodities—sugar, coffee, petroleum products, chemical, metal products, textiles, electronic equipment; partners—US 87%

Imports: $11.8 billion (c.i.f., FY88); commodities—chemicals, clothing, food, fish products, crude oil; partners—US 60%

External debt: $NA

Industrial production: growth rate 5.8% (FY87)

Electricity: 4,149,000 kW capacity; 14,050 million kWh produced, 4,260 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: tourism, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food processing, petroleum refining

Agriculture: accounts for 4% of labor force; crops—sugarcane, coffee, pineapples, tobacco, bananas; livestock—cattle, chickens; imports a large share of food needs

Aid: none

Currency: US currency is used

Exchange rates: US currency is used

Fiscal year: 1 July-30 June


Railroads: 100 km rural narrow-gauge system for hauling sugarcane; no passenger railroads

Highways: 13,762 km paved

Ports: San Juan, Ponce, Mayaguez, Arecibo

Airports: 33 total; 23 usable; 19 with permanent-surface runways; none with runways over 3,659 m; 3 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 4 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: 2,000,000 radio receivers; 810,000 TV receivers; 769,140 telephones; stations—69 AM, 42 FM, 24 TV (1984)

Defense Forces

Note: defense is the responsibility of the US; paramilitary National Guard; police force of 10,050 men and women (1984)