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spanish version


The History of Puerto Rico

Part I

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Christopher Columbus’s second voyage to the New World in 1493 marks the begining of a documented History of Puerto Rico. Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand financed the trip in hopes for new discoveries and riches. The Conquistadors found an island paradise abundant with fertile soil, fruit trees, and fresh water springs. Columbus named the island San Juan Bautista after St. John the Baptist. The Spanish gradually built relations with the Taino Indians, inhabitants of the island. With their permission Ponce and his men built a settlement on the northeastern part of the island. They constructed a modest fortress, and accommodations for the small settlement of Caparra. The settlers converted many Indians to Christianity, and taught them how to read and write. But, in time the Spaniards began to force the Indians to mine gold for them. Many Indians began to die of diseases and exhaustion.  The Indian resentment toward the settlers spread. A bloody rebellion sparked a battle, the insurrection of 1511. The Spaniards were victorious and consequently, the Indians became subjects of the Crown with the same rights as the Spanish, but with very little guarantees. In time, the two classes began to intermarry, and gradually a new race, the Puerto Rican, emerged. The name Puerto Rican came from Puerto Rico, " the city of the rich port" built in the northeastern part of the island near Caparra. Later, the name Puerto Rico came to refer to the entire island, and San Juan, the name Columbus gave to the island initially, ultimately referred to this rich port. San Juan is now officially the capitol of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico was a great source of wealth for the Spanish Crown, but by early sixteenth century, the the gold deposits were exhausted.

In the middle of the century a coffee industry gradually emerged and Puerto Rican coffee became the best in the world. Unlike Cuba and the Dominican Republic, slavery never became an acceptable practice in the culture or economy of Puerto Rico. As a result the island became a magnet for free Negroes and slaves seeking freedom.

Note: This page is not complete. When it is finished it will contain a chronology of events in the history of Puerto Rico Part II.  Pictures will be included! And coming soon, the history of Puerto Rico, Part III.

Useful Sites:
National Park Service - San Juan National Historic Site - contains history and information about the forts of Puerto Rico.
The Jatibonicu Taino Tribal Nation of Boriken
- contains information about the Taino tribes of the Caribbean.

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Revisado /Revised: January 17, 2017