The island of Puerto Rico is almost rectangular in shape, and is the smallest and the most eastern island of the Greater Antilles. Its coasts measures approximately 580 km, and if the adjacent islands Vieques and Culebra are included the coast measures approximately 700 km.
The third important physiographic feature is the karst region in the north. This area consists of formations of rugged volcanic rock dissolved by water throughout the geological ages. This limestone region is an extremely attractive zone of extensive mogotes or haystack hills, sinkholes, caves, limestone cliffs, and other karst features.
Another unique environment can be found on Mona Island, 50 miles off the west coast of Puerto Rico. Like the Galapagos Islands, this untouched island has species which are not found elsewhere. Mona is a protected island, under the management of the United States National Park Service and the Puerto Rican Natural Resources Department. Accessible by a sometimes difficult, long boat ride, the island is available for sport diving to those who make special arrangements and are willing to rough it out.
The climate is tropical marine with regular temperature of 80°F (26°C) and Puerto Rico enjoys warm and sunny days most of the year. Lightweight clothing is appropriate year-round.
Peak season for visiting Puerto Rico runs from December to April – dates driven not by weather on the island but by weather on the mainland — specifically the icy grip of winter on the East Coast. You can avoid crowds and get discounts by traveling off-season.
One catch: Some of these deals fall within hurricane season on the island, which officially runs from June 1 through Nov. 30.
Interestingly, Puerto Rico is somewhat a liberal state. Only recently, it became the permanent home of over 100,000 legal residents who immigrated from not only the Dominican Republic, but from other Latin American countries: Cuba, Colombia and Venezuela, as well as from surrounding Caribbean Islands: Haiti, Barbados, and the US Virgin Islands.
Emigration has been a major part of Puerto Rico’s recent history. Starting soon after World War II, poverty, cheap airfare and promotion by the island government caused waves of Puerto Ricans to move to the United States, particularly to New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Florida. Although this trend continued even as Puerto Rico’s economy improved and its birth rate declined.
The official languages are Spanish and English with Spanish being the primary language. English is taught as a second language in public and private schools from elementary levels to high school and at the university level.
The fact that visitors from the United States do not need a passport to enter Puerto Rico attracts a large number of tourists from the mainland United States each year. Other groups of tourists that visit Puerto Rico in large numbers include Mexicans, Dominicans, Venezuelan, Spaniards, French and Asian tourists.
Puerto Rico offers a huge variety of lodgings that will appeal to a multiplicity of personalities and pocketbooks. There are 12,000 hotel rooms available in Puerto Rico (1998), 50 percent are located in the San Juan area. And do not forget that Puerto Rico is a large producer of rum, with many different types ranging from light rums for mixing with soft drinks to dark brandy-type rums. Handmade cigars can still be found in Old San Juan and Puerta de Tierra. A wide variety of imported goods from all over the world are available. Local artisanal include wooden carvings, musical instruments, lace, ceramics, hammocks, masks and basket-work.