A Historical and Culturally Diverse Island Like No Other!
Puerto Rico is a culturally and historically rich island. Despite the fact that Puerto Rico is under US territory, it retains its own ancient traditions. Puerto Rican culture is as passionate and vibrant as its people, with a rich history of celebration that makes it one of the compelling sites to visit.
For history and culture seekers, this island offers one of the most rewarding experiences within the U.S. From ancient Taíno roots to Spanish colonial architecture and African ancestry, Puerto Rico is packed with centuries of history only feets away from its blue water and white sand. On the coast, the town of Loíza offers an in-depth look at the island’s significant African legacy.
Once Upon A Time..
The Taínos, a group of indigenous people who lived on the island for hundreds of years before the Spanish arrived, were the island’s earliest inhabitants. They survived by fishing, hunting, and minimal agriculture, organized in small clans and villages governed by caciques (chiefs). Agüeybaná ruled the Taínos and gave the island the name Borikén (Borinquen), which means “Land of the Valiant and Noble Lord.”
The extinction of the Taínos began when Christopher Columbus arrived in 1493. At first, Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista (St. John the Baptist). When the Spaniards discovered the amount of gold found in the rivers, the name was changed to Puerto Rico, which means “rich port.” San Juan was the name given to the capital city when it was founded.
The island developed an even more sophisticated agriculture system under Spanish rule than the Taínos had established. The island’s main exports were sugarcane, coffee, and tobacco. Spain then imported African slaves to Puerto Rico to meet rising demand for products and a shrinking number of local laborers.
Becoming U.S territory
In the late 1800s, Puerto Rico’s desire for independence from the Spanish crown reached a boiling point. While the Spanish army put down the insurrection in San Juan quickly, outbursts and uprisings arose across the island, forcing the Spanish crown to grant the island’s government autonomy. This move allowed trade with other European colonies as well as the United States to flourish.
The autonomous government granted by Spain didn’t last long. Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded to the United States as part of the Treaty of Paris after the Spanish-American War ended in 1898, and Puerto Rico retains its territory status to this day. Today, Puerto Ricans still take pride in keeping many of the island’s original traditions, even after it became a US territory.
Puerto Rican Culture
The most noticeable cultural influence in Puerto Rican is the Spanish culture. The island’s Spanish legacy has left an everlasting impact, and evidence of this cultural exchange can be found everywhere, from Colonial architecture and official language to literature and local culinary specialities.
The majority of Puerto Ricans enjoy large celebrations. In fact, the island has over 500 festivals each year, each of which is a family affair involving many generations of relatives. Most events revolve around music, and Puerto Ricans are passionate about their beliefs and like nothing more than debating politics or sports for hours. Let’s look at some aspects of Puerto Rican culture that may pique your interest.
Festivals & Traditions
Traditions are maintained alive by Puerto Ricans year after year, from Three Kings’ Day celebrations in January to clapping when a plane lands on the island. With limitless festivals, events, and holiday festivities, local culture can be found in every corner of this Caribbean paradise, no matter what time of year it is.
During the holidays, sipping the local coquito is a popular tradition. It resembles eggnog but it is sweeter and contains coconut. If you’re planning to visit the island, make sure to try some! Puerto Ricans are proud of their unique traditions and are passionate about sharing them with visitors around the world.
Puerto Rico Art
The island is rich with art history – museums, galleries, or street murals has set the way for a vibrant, engaging approach to learn about the island’s culture and history. However, the art of Puerto Rico extends well beyond the walls of museums. Hundreds of square feet of murals surround bridges, buildings, and even parking spaces, ensuring that visitors will come across art wherever they walk.
These urban pieces, created by local and international artists, present the story of Puerto Rico from various colorful angles, touching on socio-political and transformative issues. Even though Santurce was the starting point for this movement, large-scale paintings can now be found on every part of the island especially in cities like Ponce and Bayamón.
The Rhythms of Puerto Rico
Puerto Rican culture revolves around music. Music fills the air from the moment you step off the plane. Whether you’re wandering the streets of San Juan, celebrating at a small-town festival, or spending a day at the beach, it’s a staple of Puerto Rican culture and entertainment.
Puerto Rico’s dynamic and vibrant culture can be heard all year through the music that surrounds the island. Whether you’re seeking for exciting salsa or a gentler beat like the trova, Puerto Rico’s tropical essence may definitely be found in its songs, music, and singers.
Puerto Rico is far more than what has been described in this article, and it does not do the island justice. The island has a lot to offer to visitors from all over the world and visiting the island is the only way to properly comprehend Puerto Rican culture. Despite the never-ending series of setbacks, Puerto Rico deserves to be admired and revered for remaining resilient and living life to the fullest.