Puerto Rico, an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands, is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean Sea. The capital and most populous city is San Juan, the second oldest European-established capital city in the Americas, after Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), founded by Spanish colonists in 1521. Its official languages are Spanish, which is predominant, and English. The island's population is approximately 3.5 million.
When Christopher Columbus arrived in Puerto Rico during his second voyage on November 19, 1493, the island was inhabited by the Taíno. He named the island San Juan Bautista, in honor of the Catholic saint, John the Baptist. Juan Ponce de León founded the first Spanish settlement, Caparra, in 1508, and later served as the first governor of the island. Eventually, traders and other maritime visitors came to refer to the entire island as Puerto Rico, and San Juan became the name of the main trading/shipping port.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the Spanish people began to colonize the island. In 1520, King Charles I of Spain issued a royal decree collectively emancipating the remaining Taíno population. By that time, the Taíno people were few in number. Enslaved Africans had already begun to compensate for the native labor loss. San Juan served as an important port-of-call for ships driven across the Atlantic by its powerful trade winds. West Indies convoys linked Spain to the island, sailing between Cádiz and the Spanish West Indies.
In 1625, the Dutch commander Boudewijn Hendricksz tested the defenses' limits like no one else before. Historians consider this event the worst attack on San Juan. Constructions of defenses for the San Cristóbal Hill were soon ordered so as to prevent the landing of invaders out of reach of the Morro's artillery. Urban planning responded to the needs of keeping the colony in Spanish hands. With the advent of the lively Bourbon Dynasty in Spain in the 1700s, the island began a gradual shift to more imperial attention.
The increasing number of Atlantic wars in which the Caribbean islands played major roles ensured Puerto Rico's growing esteem in Madrid's eyes. In the early 19th century, Puerto Rico spawned an independence movement that, due to harsh persecution by the Spanish authorities, convened in the island of St. Thomas. Slavery was abolished in Puerto Rico in 1873, "with provisions for periods of apprenticeship." In 1898, after the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded Puerto Rico tu U.S., along with the Philippines and Guam.
In 1914, the Puerto Rican House of Delegates voted unanimously in favor of independence from the United States, but this was rejected by the U.S. Congress as "unconstitutional," and in violation of the 1900 Foraker Act. In 1917, the U.S. Congress passed the Jones–Shafroth Act, popularly called the Jones Act, which granted Puerto Ricans U.S. citizenship. Natural disasters and the Great Depression impoverished the island during the first few decades under U.S. rule.
In 1950, Pedro Albizu Campos and other nationalists led a 3-day revolt against the United States in various cities and towns of Puerto Rico. Four plebiscites have been held since the late 20th century to resolve the political status. The most recent, in 2012, showed a majority (54% of the voters) in favor of a change in status, with full statehood the preferred optio. Puerto Rico is poorer than Mississippi (the poorest state of the U.S.) with 41% of its population below the poverty line.
The island is mostly mountainous with large coastal areas in the north and south. Puerto Rico has 17 lakes, all man-made, and more than 50 rivers, most originating in the Cordillera Central. At a global scale, Puerto Rico's dependency on oil for transportation and electricity generation, as well as its dependency on food imports and raw materials, makes Puerto Rico volatile and highly reactive to changes in the world economy and climate.
The origins of the current flag of Puerto Rico, adopted by the commonwealth of Puerto Rico in 1952, can be traced to 1868. It consisted of 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. The use and display of the Puerto Rican flag was outlawed and the only flags permitted to be flown in Puerto Rico were the Spanish flag (1492 to 1898) and the flag of the United States (1898 to 1952).
About the stamps
Two of the stamps are part of the definitives series American Design (2002-2007), about which I wrote here. The other two stamps are part of a series issued to mark the Batman’s 75th anniversary as the protector of Gotham City, about which I wrote here.
Puerto Rico -
Flag of Puerto Rico - Wikipedia
Sent from San Juan (Puerto Rico / United States), on 14.02.2014